Eyes Cried Shut

Houston, we have a sleeping problem.

Starting about two weeks ago, Miss Ella decided she didn't want to nap anymore. Scratch that. She would nap if someone was holding her. The nanosecond you put her down, however, all hell breaks loose. This carries over to bedtime as well. We rock her gently in our arms into relative sleepiness. And then, as the experts tell you, we put her down in her bassinett (yes, she's still in our room) while still awake, and we tiptoe out. And she stays asleep for about 10 minutes. And then she wakes up. And then she screams. And then we wash. Rinse. Repeat. At least three times until she's out for the night.

But more so than the disaster that has become her bedtime situation, her lack of anything resembling a consistent daytime napping schedule Is. Killing. Me. Because she doesn't sleep for anything longer than 10-15 minutes, I don't get a break. And I know this sounds selfish. I mean, she's my job, at least from the moment she wakes up in the morning until she goes to bed. Then, of course, I start the job for which I'm paid. But not having the chance to pay the bills, or water the plants, or get some of my work done while she sleeps is making me miserable. And I feel like a failure of a mother as well. She tries my patience. I'm grumpy. And there has been more than one occasion where Rich has walked through the door at the end of his work day, and I've handed over Isabella to him in tears. I hate the feeling of not being able to solve this problem. I feel like a failure of a mother.

She is frequently overtired because of fighting off sleep. And we've tried everything. I've put her in two sleepers because maybe she's cold. I've heated up her bed before putting her in it because maybe it's too cool for her to sleep in. I've covered her hands when she goes to sleep because she keeps whacking at her face and maybe this is waking her up. When she wakes up 10 minutes into her nap, I enter the room, avoid all eye contact, stick her pacifer in her mouth, and rock the bassinett back and forth out of her sight until she drifts back off. But 10 minutes later, it's the same thing all over again. And by the time an hour is up, she's slept for maybe 20 minutes, and me? Well, I've accomplished none of the myriad tasks I need to do, including reading and commenting on all of your blogs. :(

On Monday, I bought this book, on the recommendation of some random women who saw Rich and I staring bleary-eyed at the collection of Children and Family books in Barnes and Noble, looking for an answer to Ella's sleeping issues. And in it, the author recommends a 7pm bedtime, 7am wake-up time, followed by two hours of "vigorous play," a 9am morning naptime, followed by a 1pm afternoon nap. He advocates daily consistent rituals before sleep, and he also is somewhat of a fan of CIO (crying it out), which I tried for the first time Monday night, and just couldn't let her wail past 45 minutes. And oh by the way, today? The 9am and 1pm afternoon nap advocated in the book? I believe Isabella slept for a total of 20 minutes each time.

So I'm at a loss here. Does anyone out there have any suggestions for getting a baby who doesn't seem to want to sleep, like ever, to develop a consistent sleeping schedule? Please help me!

18 Responses to “Eyes Cried Shut”

  1. # Blogger ugyen

    Hey there...nice blog!!! your blog added to my blog collection
    http://worldblogcollection.blogspot.com/ (check Personal Blog Listing)

  2. # Blogger Caryl

    This situation is exactly why my daughter is an only child!!! Isabella sounds just like Sara. I have no helpful hints since NOTHING worked. We did finally put a radio tuned to the local talk show in the room with Sara and she did sleep longer, maybe 30 minutes total, before waking up. I believe that the voices made Sara think someone was in the room with her. Hang in there, hopefully some trick will work for you. In the mean time, catch cat naps yourself when she does. Sorry I don't have any other words of wisdom. Just remember, you are not alone!  

  3. # Blogger M

    God bless you for writing this post because I have been struggling as well. Madelyn did the whole 10 minute nap thing at about 6 weeks and it lasted for a week before I think she just flat out exhausted herself and started sleeping again.
    My problem is a little different. She won't sleep in her crib. Ok...I shouldn't say WON'T...she will...for about 30 minutes. Then, the pacifier falls out, she wakes up screaming...I wait about 10 minutes before givng in and replacing the pacifier. And we start all over again. She also will start thrashing around like a mad woman-- her hands hitting herself in the head which then wakes her up.
    We tried swaddling....doesn't work. You kmow what works for us? Letting her sleep in the swing. GASP. Now...there are 2 schoools of thought--- do whatever it takes to get some sleep and do not let your child sleep in the swing. My pediatrician goes with the 2nd. Most mothers I have talked to go with the first. And some of the mother's pediatricians also go with the first. So, now if she can't stay asleep for long on her own...in the swing she goes. For us, the swing doesn't even have to be moving...I think it's the position it places her in that makes her feel all cuddled. The bouncer also works for this. I would try one of those two. Surely she will outgrow it, along with Maddy. God, please let it be soon.  

  4. # Blogger M

    oh! and I agree with caryl. this sleep thing is the one thing holding me back from wanting another baby. I just don't know how people do this multiple times!  

  5. # Blogger Amy

    Hi Kristi! I never blog anymore, so first off--congratulations and she is absolutely beautiful. :)

    Second, you are not a failure as a mother. You know that, but I know from experience that it's just good to hear sometimes, lol.

    The reality is that most babies go through this. Sometimes during growth spurts or just simple bouts of insecurity, babies that used to sleep wonderfully will all of a sudden just stop.

    It is super frustrating, I know. Probably the hardest part, for me, when my girls were babies was never having that 10-15 minutes to yourself. (and no, you're not selfish for wanting it)

    Unfortunately, sometimes you have to just wait it out. I didn't work from home full time when I had babies, but I know lots of people who have. All of them had nannies that stayed in the home while they worked. Otherwise, they couldn't get anything done or they had to work at night/on weekends when they had help from a spouse. I don't know if that's an option for you or something you'd consider.

    I'm not such a fan of CIO before 6 months. I believe that if babies need to be held, then they should be held and not forced onto an adult schedule. Every parent is different, though, and that's my personal preference.

    I have 2 things that could possibly work--don't know if you tried them yet. Mia was one of the babies that wanted held constantly. She basically screamed all the time her first 6 months of life. One thing that helped is that I just wore one of those snugli-type baby carriers all the time. And I mean ALL THE TIME, lol. If I took her out of it, she cried, so at least if I had to hold her all the time I still had my hands free. It's no exaggeration when I say I cooked dinner, typed on the computer, potty-trained my two year-old, cleaned the bathrooms, etc. etc. etc. all while wearing that thing. I couldn't get anything done, otherwise.

    It killed my neck and back, and I'm pretty sure the joint pain in my left arm is a direct result, but it saved my sanity!

    The other thing that worked and helped me to get her taking an afternoon nap is the baby swing. I figured out that Mia was fine in the swing as long as she had her pacifier and could see me. I also figured out that although she needed to see me, I couldn't interact with her in anyway or she would force herself to stay awake. So if I put her in the swing in the early afternoon, right after I fed her, she would usually fall asleep while watching me. Bascially, I tricked her. :) I would bring the swing into the kitchen, for example, and do the dishes while she swung and watched me. She was so full that the motion lulled her to sleep before she could fuss for me to pick her up. And since she fell asleep without me holding her, then she wouldn't wake up for 2 or 3 hours. (I left her in the swing and would just keep checking on her.)

    Anyway, I hope this might help and I know you've heard this a million times but it DOES get better!
    Amy (formery of BJF)  

  6. # Blogger Dee Dee

    Nurse her in your bed and let her fall asleep there - I am serious! She is too young to spoil her yet - and she needs help realizing that naps are good for her. Try it please - at naptime and bedtime. It will get you through the next couple of months - and them you can worry about the routine.  

  7. # Blogger Christine

    Ack, no advice, just best wishes. Actually, you know all that extended family? Maybe they would like Ella for an hour or two?  

  8. # Blogger Anne Marie

    I agree with the carrier. It might help you out. We went through this no-sleep stage as well. Try swaddling too if you haven't already. I know that worked at least one night we tried it. LOL Something you just have to push through with. And it seems to come with growth spurts. Is she eating a lot too at the current time?  

  9. # Blogger Ramona

    My friend Salena is going through the same thing with her little guy, and she is exhausted too.
    For Christmas, I bought Liam a
    Sound Therapy radio. One of the sounds simulates a heartbeat that is supposed to lull the babe to sleep. Maybe you could try that?
    Good luck!  

  10. # Blogger Shannon

    Hand her over to Aunt Karrie tomorrow and escape to a hotel for the weekend so you can get some sleep! :)  

  11. # Blogger sunShine

    I have been there with my son and nothing really worked. He slept in the room with us until he was 5 months old and then I moved him to his own room. Have you tried making the room as dark as you can and maybe have a fan or a radio on or some white noise? My son sleeps with a fan and a radio and after 9 1/2 months he finally started sleeping through the night. I hope it does not take Isabella that long. Remember that each baby is different and what works for one may not work for another, so just try some different things until you find what works for her. Good luck, I know how you feel.

    Also her not sleeping is not a reflection on your parenting skills. You are a wonderful mom. She just doesn't want to sleep.  

  12. # Blogger The Princess

    Camille has ALWAYS boycotted sleep. I remember in the beginning how shocked I was when she never slept. I was always told to sleep when the baby slept and how you needed to try to keep them up during the day so they'd sleep at night. Camille, even a few days old, only slept for a 1/2 hour at a time every 2-3 hours. The only way I could get her to sleep longer was by using the swing. Oh gosh I LOVED the swing, it was our life savor. Won't sleep at night? Put her in the swing. Refuses to sleep during the day? Put her in the swing. My biggest regret was going with the folks in the school of thought that the swing was bad. I should have just stuck with it and with my instinct.

    Camille and I have fought sleep up until this very moment. Well, I should say daytime sleep. Through some training, she became a great night time sleeper. Basically I had this rule that past a certain time I would not take her out of her room so all soothing past (at first) 11 pm was in her room. The last feeding was in her room and if she woke up we would rock and refeed in the room only. Slowly that time backed up to as early as now 8 p.m. We started a bedtime routine and she caught on real quick and began anticipating that last feeding. At 12 weeks I cut out the 6 a.m. feeding when I realized she was waking up just to play and not eat. She never really cried it out she just wimpered the first morning for about 10 min and fell back to sleep until 8'ish. The next morning it was 5 min and then she just stopped all together.

    The daytime sleep got better onced she started crawling. But before then, to save my sanity, I would just let her go! She would fall asleep for a nap, I would put her in the crib where she would just sleep for about 20 min but I would keep her in there for an additional 10, then 20 when she got used to it. Now at 12 months she goes down for a quiet time. Sometimes she sleeps, sometimes she doesn't. But she's so used to it that she doesn't cry just plays.

    Gosh, I could write a book....email me if you need more!!  

  13. # Blogger l

    I second Shannon's idea!  

  14. # Blogger sher

    I also vote for Shannon's idea. I've also seen that the swing works great with my friends. Who wouldn't want to sleep in a nice swing? Most of all, don't ever doubt your abilities as a mom!!! Hang in there!!!  

  15. # Blogger smashedpea

    It does get better, remember that!

    Sophie slept throught the night from 6 weeks on - until she turned 4 months old. She'd be awake, and I mean wide awake, every night for the next 4 months for at least an hour, sometimes 3 hours.

    Napping, no thanks. She'd take short little cat naps throughout the day, preferably while I was holding her. Mostly, she'd refuse to sleep anywhere but on me. This lasted until she was about 6 months old, but really, until she was about a year old, she didn't think very highly of naps for the most part.

    I found that nursing her to sleep had the best results and never just put her in her crib. I didn't nurse her during the night 'cause she wasn't awake because of hunger, but otherwise, she'd fall asleep in the car on the way to or from somewhere or on me. My husband was the master of transporting her from me to her bed, though he spend much time rocking her back to sleep when she woke during the process.

    I did the handing-over-the-baby-thing-while-I-was-crying-thing to the husband a bunch of times, too. Some days when she was still very little, like a couple of months old, she'd just not nap. At all. For a few days in a row. I was ready to be committed or give her back - but then it got better or I got more used to it, I'm not sure which. But I sure was grateful I didn't have twins :)

    And the swing, yes try the swing. My little nephew had one and slept and slept and slept in it while his mom got stuff done. Oddly enough, we didn't buy one (looking back, I'm not sure why) - good thing we inherited it for #2, though!

    The carrier never worked for us as she'd just refused to go into it. Cried her little heart out every time I came near her with it. So yeah, every baby is different and you may have to try a few things before you find what works for Isabella.  

  16. # Blogger Jean-Luc Picard

    Sleep has never been a strong point of mine!  

  17. # Blogger angela

    I've been catching up with you and Isabella and I thought I'd just pass on this comment from our Ear, nose, Throat specialist.
    My son was a baby who cried and cried and wouldn't sleep until he was held upright in someone's arms and it turned out that he had a series of ear infections caused by a gastric reflux. She told me that small babies cry because 99% of the time their ears are inflamed.
    One time I took the baby to the family doctor who checked him out, told me I was too soft with the baby and that i should let him cry. when I got home the baby's eardrum had burst! I'm still angry that a baby should endure that pain but I believe red eardrums aren't always easy to see in such small ears.
    If Isabella prefers to be held upright you may want to have her ears checked. The upright thing is because it relieves the pressure.
    Good luck,

  18. # Blogger Damselfly

    Oh yes, what is up with this non-sleeping nonsense? The moment the head touches the mattress, the eyes pop open. My little guy, 3.5 months, hasn't been a good napper either, lately. He was doing so well at night, and now it's back to getting up a couple of times even though the routine hasn't changed. I wonder if he might be teething -- or pre-teething, because a friend's baby got a tooth at this age even though it's early. I certainly sympathize with you!  

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