Sleep like a baby anyone? No, Thank You!
Have you ever had a kid whose sleep is so broken and unpredictable that you start to wonder if something is wrong with your child? Then, you start to question your own sanity because, how could you think something is wrong with your child after being told by the pediatrician that everything is normal? Oh, because not every kid is the same, never mind every child you have will have the same or close enough sleep pattern. Oh! and you know that saying that goes “sleep like a baby”? Excuse me? so you did not sleep through the night? I am sorry you had insomnia for two hours! OmG! did you wake up every two to three hours? Yeah, sleep like a baby… such a myth, so overrated!
It is 3 or 4 am. I am there laying on my bed in an almost dark room while hearing Noemi “talk” or “whine.” I still wonder, “could something be wrong with her?” My mind runs down a checklist of possible reasons she could be awake. Hungry? No. Cold? No. Hot? No. Dirty diaper? No. Nothing is wrong. Apparently… I then start to count how many hours she napped, because, if she did not sleep enough, she is overly tired. And if she slept enough, then, what is going on? Maybe she is teething, but I do not know for sure because she does not let me see her, and I do not see other teething signs. After that, I wonder if maybe something is wrong with her brain; therefore, I start to feel guilty for thinking like that after the pediatrician said everything was normal. It could be my lack of sleep thinking.
Sleep, to me, has always been important, especially in kids because it is important for their development. I did quite a lot of research 15 years ago when my first daughter was a baby because she had a hard time napping and going to sleep for the night. I think I was kind of obsessed over her getting a good night’s sleep. She would only nap for 30 minutes and was constantly fussy because of that. At night, it was horrible because she would cry for a long time before falling asleep. I learned that when babies are overly tired, they have a hard time falling asleep at night. I knew that was what was happening with her, but nobody believed me. It is hard when you live with other family members and they start to give their opinions or try to help by trying to put the baby to sleep themselves. I was young and inexperienced back then, so I did not stand my ground. However, thankfully to my obsession with her sleep, I caught her mild sleep apnea before it could develop into full-on sleep apnea.
With my second daughter, I felt I was kind of starting all over again. After 11 years of not having another baby, I forgot some things about sleep and breastfeeding, but I got right on track pretty quickly. All I can say is that her sleep pattern was not too bad for me to obsess over. The only problem I had was that she got used to the bottle and wanted one next to her at night all the time! If she woke up in the middle of the night, sometimes I would not notice because she would just grab the bottle and go back to sleep. By the way, the bottle only had water.
My third daughter is nothing like the other two. I would say she is so unpredictable it drives me crazy! She barely started to sleep 5 or 6 hours straight without waking up, when she turned 13 months. It was as if something just clicked in her. All those 13 months, I would breastfeed her at night and then I would put her down on her crib to sleep. She would go to sleep right away sometimes or take a few minutes. However, I swear that she would have an alarm inside of her and wake up as soon as I would go to bed. I tried everything I could to teach her to sleep through the night. I tried different bedtimes, monitored the amount of time she was awake in between naps, and had her being more active when she was awake. I also tried the cry-out method for a day but it did not work because I found out she can cry for a long time non-stop and not get tired. In fact, she would get really pissed off and get even more wound up. Then, I found some moms who said that “sleep through the night” does not mean that babies would sleep for 11 or 12 hours straight. Oh my God! so was it all a myth? Maybe. All it means is that if they wake up in the middle of the night, they just go back to sleep on their own right away. Well, that did not happen to me.
Early on, I established a sleep routine because, well, babies and toddlers thrive in that. However, sometimes I feel like she thinks “oh! Let me shake things up” and even with a nighttime routine, she decides to wake up for two hours between 2-3:30 am. Even if she napped well during the day, and with a nice bath, and with a full belly, it just happens! It is so frustrating. You would think that because she was awake for 2 hours, she would wake up 2 hours past her usual wake up time right? Nope, she wakes up at her usual time, 7 am, sometimes earlier! The days she does not wake up for two hours in the middle of the night, the most she sleeps is 10 hours, never 11, nor did she ever sleep 12. She naps for almost 3 hours total, so I guess she gets her total sleep of 13 hours in 24 hours. Nobody on the internet has an answer as to why some babies wake up in the middle of the night for two hours. It is all speculation. When I first searched for an answer, I could barely find moms who were going through the same thing. I had to remember that the pediatrician said it was normal, some babies do that. But why? To me, that behavior had to stem from something. Therefore, my stupid thought that something was going on with her brain.
I am just glad that she is not doing that every night. It was really affecting me during the day because with the lack of sleep, I felt super tired, grouchy, and moody. I had to apologize to my husband many times for snapping at him or being rude, but he understood. On my defense, he would make comments like this one, “maybe the baby is not tired or wasn’t active enough during the day.” I wanted to slap him because it seemed that he did not pay attention to me when I told him what I had researched about sleep and being overly tired. I had the option of getting out of the room to sleep with one of my other daughters, but I could not do it all the time. The few times I did it, I could not fall back asleep easily and then I would not know when she would finally go back to sleep. This meant that I had no idea exactly how many hours she slept, although it would not be hard to find out because she would be fussy all-day-long and nap horribly. She just did it the day before yesterday and today she woke up around 5:15 am and did not go back to sleep. At 7 am I got her out of her crib and took a nap at 9:30 am, an hour earlier than her usual nap time but slept for 2 hours and 15 minutes instead of an hour and a half. What helps me ease my mind is that her developmental milestones are up to date. And all I can say is that I am so thankful I am able to stay at home because I do not know how moms who have to work away from home do it. I give those moms props! At this point, I just wrote this so that other moms out there that are going through the same thing know that they are not alone. I see you moms! I feel what you are going through and just know that this too shall pass!