Night Terrors (*updated)

I take a lot of photos of Luci and Nicholas while they're sleeping during the day. After a bit of self-analysis, I've realized I do this as a way to remember that when they're asleep, they are really, really cute. Adorable, even. They're warm and squishy and peaceful and best of all, they're not making any noise.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I like my children best this way.

While they generally sleep well during the day, my two precious bundles of joy transform into rabid hellcats come 7pm. From 7pm to 11 or 12, they are screaming. They are fed and full and should presumably be snoozing away in a breastmilk coma, but instead they are awake and fussy and miserable. A call to my pediatrician's office last week netted me the obvious: A lot newborns are fussy in the evenings. Really? No shit. However, the nurse I spoke with did make a good suggestion. She mentioned that my milk supply is at its lowest point of the day in the early evening. After feeding them, I should immediately give each one an ounce of pumped breastmilk in a bottle to "top them off" to see if this helps. I tried it, and it worked to a degree. Instead of five hours of screaming, they cried for four.

Last night we tried a homegrown solution. We stuck Isabella's old sound machine (she's since been upgraded to a fancy new model with a digital clock display) under their pack-n-play in the living room in the hopes that the white noise would recreate womb sounds and lull them into a deep sleep so we could watch Survivor without the tv's closed captioning feature turned on. It worked for a little while, and we actually enjoyed over an hour of peace and quiet, although watching tv at the volume we needed to in order to hear it over the white noise was annoying. We'll probably try this again tonight.

Night screaming is hugely annoying and makes me want to flee to Mexico with only the clothes on my back, but it's nothing compared to their middle-of-the-night antics. I generally feed them for the last time each night between 10 and 11pm. Most of the time, they're asleep and settled into their bassinets by midnight. They'll wake up again to eat by 2am, and then again every 2.5 hours (lasting 3 hours is a rarity). My largest chunk of sleep is between the last feeding of the day and the first awakening-about 3 hours on a good night. After which point, by the time I feed, burp, change, and rock two babies back to sleep in the middle of the night, 1.5 hours have passed. For example, last night they went to sleep around 11:30pm. They were up again at 2am. I fed them, and got back to sleep by 3:30am. They were up again at 5am, and after feeding them, I was up for the day.

Why is it that they can last 3.5 and sometimes 4 hours in between feedings during the day, but at night, they're up every 2.5? I was so tired this morning that while paying bills, I sealed three envelopes without including the checks inside.

Please, little darlings, mama needs her sleep.

* Thanks for all the great suggestions and support. I tried keeping them to a strict three-hour schedule as some of you suggested. I also tried feeding them as much as possible in the early evening hours, including multiple nursing sessions and bottles of pumped breastmilk. Neither seems to enjoy the swing very much, and I have a low-frills sling that seems to swallow them up when I put them in it. I'm going to post about slings soon, but if you have a suggestions for a good one, please let me know! Unfortunately, no matter what tactic we tried during the day, they were still up all night long.

Please send Red Bull. Am dying a slow sleep-deprived death.

18 Responses to “Night Terrors (*updated)”

  1. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Try schedule feeding them during the day instead of letting them sleep the 4 hours. Wake them up during the day to feed after 3 hours and maybe they will flip-flop their day and night schedules. Get as much food into them during the day as possible so they aren't looking for it in the middle of the night. It worked for me!  

  2. # Blogger Mom24

    Awww, but they're so cute! Of course, that's me getting the silent pictures!

    Hang in there. I think anonymous has a good idea, you might want to try that for a week or 10 days and see if you see any improvement. Not easy, that's for sure.

    I'm having my own parenting nightmares with my much, much older child. Not sure if I can blog it or not, but right now it sure feels like it never really gets easier. We'll both just keep hanging on. What choice do we have, really?  

  3. # Blogger Simply-Mel

    I would go with Anon. I did that with my middle one. Worked a charm but took about 3 days to transition.

    The fact that you wrote such a coherent post is testimony to your steel girl.

    Hugs to you!  

  4. # Blogger Simply-Mel

    Oh - and that photo? Utterly utterly delightful. Thank God we have cameras and can capture such beauty to remind us....ya the dark dark times....just how precious they are.  

  5. # Anonymous Lis Garrett

    Even after a good night's sleep, I'm apt to sealing an envelope without the check inside, so I think you're doing a really good job!

    By the time all your kids sleep through the night, they'll be at the same stage as my kids: never-ending bickering, physical fighting, tattling and squealing. All.Day.Long. Fun!  

  6. # Blogger In transit

    That is just the sweetest pic!
    I guess I'm looking forward to finding out how to solve such hic-cups myself!.... still waiting!  

  7. # Blogger Marie

    We had a rough time in the evenings with K too. Of course that was only one child. Chris would put him in the Bjorn carrier and walk up and down the street. Can't exactly do that in December though! Are they any different if you wear them in a sling or something? I salute your dedication to BFing both of them all the time.  

  8. # Anonymous Ness

    If you're taking photos while they're sleeping, then....WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING AWAKE??? Oh wait, I forgot you have *another* child as well!

    Okay missy listen up the next time those twins sleep simultaneously, I want Izzy in front of the telly with some mind numbing movie on, and if you won't bring your self to leave her alone then sleep on the couch next to her. :)

    *Yeah* if only it were that easy right. Buwahahahahah.  

  9. # Anonymous Kris

    OMG that is the cutest picture ever... I want my own twins just so that I can have a picture like that.

    OK, maybe not... I have enough trouble sleeping with one baby and one toddler. I am so sorry. I wish I had words of advice, but I got nuttin. Just know that I am in awe of you surviving this long and still being coherent enough to write cohesive thoughts.  

  10. # Blogger M

    Oh dear God, I feel your pain. Night time was the worst for Madelyn and many nights I would feed her while bawling because I was just so damn tired.
    Any chance they are a little gassy and Mylicon might work?  

  11. # Blogger kenju

    I feel it too, but I have no advice. It has been 37 years since I had an infant, and I don't remember having to deal with that.  

  12. # Blogger Sugar and Ice

    I wish I had some advice. I am willing to go to lengths you may not be comfortable with to get my kids to sleep longer. I usually get a good five straight hours per night these days, then one or two here and there after that.  

  13. # Blogger Tracey

    Holy Moly, I forgot what I was going to say to console you once I saw that picture... I literally gasped and got teary... Even after your exhaustion complaints, and remembering it with ONE baby, I am a wee bit jealous... :)  

  14. # Blogger Shannon

    do you have a swing? I know that when Lore would get like this... we would feed her and then toss her into the swing... and she would sleep for 6 hours... I know you might need to get 2 swings... but it is an idea... Lore slept that way from 1m old to about 6m... good luck dear...  

  15. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    That's a great picture! I can't imagine how hard it must be to nurse and soothe two babies at the same time! I hope they get on a good night schedule for you soon!  

  16. # Blogger Hopeful Mother

    Yep, it sounds like they have their days and nights totally switched around. The others' advice is good... I hope something works for you soon.

    I wish I had advice for you - but I think I have blocked out the first few months of twin mommyhood from my brain - surely an effect of sleep deprivation. :-)

    Hang in there...  

  17. # Blogger My Wombinations

    I have just discovered the beauty of swaddling. Last night we got a six hour stretch out of our night terror when I swaddled him tighter than seemed necessary and he just did a 2-hour nap using the same technique. Swaddling. Who knew?  

  18. # Blogger Damselfly

    Oy. The sleep deprivation. People like to joke about it, but there's really nothing funny about what it does to a mama's mind.

    I don't know if this will help, but I remember feeding Fly every two hours in the evening starting around dinner. That might not be possible with twins? And eventually, like My Wombinations, we discovered swaddling at night. We swaddled Fly at night in some form until just recently because he had gotten so used to having a blanket around him. (It became very loosely wrapped around him after a year or so, and not including his arms.)  

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