Sleep is for the Weak

At the time, I didn't think it possible that nights with the twins could get any worse than they were in the first few weeks after bringing them home. Then, one or the other (usually Nicholas) would awaken every 2.5 to 3 hours. I was tandem nursing then, so I'd wake up Luci at that point, nurse them both, and then we'd try to get them back to sleep. They've never gone back to sleep easily, so this process would sometimes take an hour or more, and then of course, they were hungry again 1.5 hours later.

Things improved slightly once they hit about 3 months old. We were able to get them down in the evenings in the pack-n-play in our living room from about 8pm to 11pm. At that point, I'd quit tandem nursing, so I would feed whichever one woke up first, then the hubs would take the fed twin upstairs to a bassinet in our bedroom. I would feed the other one, and then do the same. It was still hard to get them to go back to sleep, but we managed. At that point we were both getting about 5 hours of broken sleep each night.

Looking back, those early days now seem like paradise. We transitioned them to their cribs and began a new bedtime routine about a month ago, and since that point, all hell has broken loose. Here's a snapshot of what life is like in my house at bedtime now:

Around 6:30, we get the twins ready for bed. I start to feed whichever one is screaming the loudest at that point, while the hubs deals with the other one, who is also usually fussy at this time. Isabella is usually watching Martha Speaks. Once I've finished feeding Luci or Nicholas, the hubs takes him/her upstairs and attempts to rock that one to sleep while I start feeding the other twin. This often takes the hubs 20 minutes or longer. Then, depending on the evening, either I'll give Isabella her bath while the hubs tries to get the other twin to sleep, or he'll put Isabella to bed while I try to get Luci or Nicholas down.

Isabella is usually in bed for the night between 7:30 and 8pm. The twins will generally stay asleep for no longer than 45 minutes to an hour before one or both of them is up and fussing. The hubs or I will race up the stairs to try and grab the crying twin and run with him/her out of the twins' bedroom before the other one is awakened. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn't. Then, the marathon cycle of rocking, feeding, burping, comforting, Why Can't It Be Spring Already So We Can Throw Them In Their Infant Seats And Drive Them Around The Block Until They're Asleep? begins. It doesn't end until about dawn. We are getting no downtime, no time to ourselves to collapse on the couch without a baby in one or both of our arms at all.

When we finally do make it upstairs and attempt to sleep, it's often for mere minutes before one or both is up again. I cannot remember the last time I slept in a horizontal position for more than one hour. I'm averaging about 3 hours of broken sleep per night, most of it had while sitting up and nursing Luci or Nicholas. He/she will fall asleep in my arms, and I'll wake up only when the baby monitor screams with the piercing cries of whichever twin I'm not currently holding. At that point I offload the baby in my arms to the hubs, and start feeding the other one. All.Night.Long. Nicholas is up for the day at 5am. Luci, thankfully, will generally sleep pretty reliably from about 4am to about 7 or 8am.

We have tried every combination of swaddling, no swaddling, sleepsacks, gripe water, gas drops, bottles of pumped breastmilk in addition to nursing, music, sound machine, no sound machine, earlier bedtime, later bedtime, tranquilizer darts and Ambien that you can imagine. Nothing is working.

I am very tempted to go against my pediatrician's recommendation and try feeding them rice cereal once they hit 5 months next week. She's advised against starting solids before the 6th month because of the increased risk of developing food allergies, and so I didn't start Isabella on cereal until that point. But, I'm getting to the point of desperation with these two. I have a feeling their fussiness and refusal to sleep at night has more to do with their colic than it has with hunger, and their pediatrician agrees, but I'm willing to give it a try. The hubs has been begging me to give them formula at night. I'm not ready to take that step just yet.

Their pediatrician says most colic goes away by the 6th month. April can't arrive quick enough for me.

I like to maximize my waking hours. Sleep is for wussies!

16 Responses to “Sleep is for the Weak”

  1. # Anonymous Ness @ Drovers Run

    Hey, pediatricians are great, but mine said its fine to begin rice cereal as early as 4 months provided the baby is strong enough to hold it's head up etc. etc. Both my kids started solids THE DAY they turned 4 months. You may well find that they're not sleeping solidly because they're not getting enough food. No offence meant to your boobs, milk production etc. I don't know much about breast feeding, but I do know if you're tired you don't produce as much/nutritious milk.

    It just often happens that way. I know you've made your decision against formula for various reasons, and of course that's totally your choice.

    Here is really expensive too, but I just said NO BOOBS. COUGH UP THE FORMULA MONEY HONEY!!

    My husband didn't really have a say.

    Anyway, it was really tough too in the beginning, although I'm guessing only half as tough as it is for you with two - or maybe a quarter as tough, because I could offload the baby to hubby to feed once in awhile. In fact that MAY have been the number one reason for me having chosen formula in the first place....  

  2. # Blogger Mom24

    My oldest started rice cereal at 4 months, he did fine. Rebekah actually had to have it in her bottles starting at 3 weeks to help her keep food down--went against everything I believed in, but it worked.

    Jason swears Lily's sleeping 100 times better since they started giving her formula right before bed then once in the middle of the night.

    There's a school of thought that believes the increase in food allergies is a direct result of delaying foods.

    The point of all these things? Don't worry so much about the pediatrician. Do whatever your gut says, whatever works for you. Those babies will be fine. :-) You need to survive this too.  

  3. # Blogger Simply-Mel

    Aw Kirsty, this is just awful.

    I have my 5c for what its worth...

    Paeds are great but go with your gut in this instance.

    I would hold off on the rice cereal as your twins were preemies so their 4 months really is a lot younger than my kids at 4 my really cramp their tummies.

    I DEFINITELY would start with formula at night. YOu need to sleep. YOu need to enjoy your babies.

    I breastfed all my kids for a looooong time but when nights were rough (growth spurts, illness etc) I let hubby help (or my nanny stayed the night) and used formula. It did not interfere with my breastmilk at all because it was only in times of crisis.

    I know us Moms want to DO RIGHT by our kids, and breast is best but you also have to keep a balanced view --- in your circumstances you really need to keep strong, healthy, sane, patient and on top of things. YOu cannot do this on no sleep.

    That all being said. Know that I am thinking lots of you - only you can make the decisions and we all know how capable you are.

    Good luck my friend!  

  4. # Blogger My Wombinations

    ok, so I was scared to say it, but since everyone else is, I am going to say it:

    You need to try formula at night.

    This is just not worth it for you. ANY breastmilk, even once a day, has its benefits. You need to sleep. Your sanity, happiness and sleep is more important than their getting only breastmilk. I say that as a mother, a friend and a breastfeeding believer. I know it is hard to fight the guilt, but five months is a long time. You have done so much for them already and formula is not so bad that it is worth putting yourself through this. Unload some of the responsibility. Please.

    I say all this with love. We are also struggling with night sleep, but not nearly this bad. I am thinking of you and sending good sleep thoughts your way.  

  5. # Anonymous Lis Garrett

    Kristi ~

    Have you given any thought to co-sleeping with the twins? Maybe Rich can sleep somewhere else for a few nights (couch? spare bed? floor?) just to try it out. I don't think I know your views about co-sleeping but, for me personally, it was the ONLY way I got any sleep during the first three years of Bridget's life.

    I started each of my kids on cereal at 4 months with no adverse reactions. But like someone mentioned, you need to take in account the fact that they were early. And while feeding them formula (or not) is strictly your choice, I might be tempted to try it. You need sleep, friend. Plain and simple. A few ounces of formula in the evening will not hurt them one bit and might give them the extra fat they need to feel full for longer than an hour or two at a time.  

  6. # Blogger shokufeh

    Wow. Good thing they're so cute ;) I feel so bad for you. But so happy that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It's hard to believe they're already (almost) 5 months. I say go for the food, if they're interested in it. Especially if it buys everyone a little more sleep.  

  7. # Blogger Veronica

    Hugs. That's all I can offer you right now.  

  8. # Blogger M

    Not sure if you tried this or not, but Madelyn slept in her swing beside our bed for a good 6-8 weeks. What we originally did was completely NUTS, and I'll tell you about it in an email if you want to know, because I'm embarrassed to even say ( it involves us sleeping on the freezing cold floor in the middle of winter). Anyways, We could get a few straight hours of sleep if she slept in her swing or bouncer seat. The pedi warned us against this because of her getting a flat spot on her head which never happened. And I feared she'd be 2 years old and still wanting to sleep in her swing, which also didn't happen.
    The rocking motion would put her to sleep for a few hours so mama could get some rest too.
    Kudos to you for sounding sane. I was hell on wheels those first few months because I was so sleep deprived. I can't imagine.  

  9. # Blogger Jesser

    I am going to bookmark this and read this when I'm fed up and sick with sleep deprivation when the new baby comes. I feel awful for you and I hope it gets better SOON, whatever you decide to try. Hang in there.  

  10. # Blogger kenju

    My first born had colic for 9 months and I was desperate for sleep the whole time. I started giving him rice cereal when he was 12 weeks old, I think. He was fine.  

  11. # Blogger Tracey

    You have to do what you feel is right. But everyone here has a point in that every pediatrician has their own OPINIONS. And really, that's all they are. They aren't right or wrong, but just interesting guesses as to what causes food allergies, etc.

    Whatever you choose to try, I hope it works. Have you thought about separating the twins' beds? Putting one in your room or something so that they won't wake each other?  

  12. # Blogger In transit

    Oh Kristi. And I just posted on Evelynne sleeping through! I feel bad.
    I'll let it slip here that GASP! she has been getting a little bit of rice cereal for the last week.... (when I say little bit - that is quite literally about a teaspoon after the evening feed) It's against everything I've read/heard about, but Evelynne was just HUNGRY. My Mother suggested I try it with her, as she did with me and all my siblings. From all observations, she is thriving and is so much happier with a full belly. I was really against giving it to her in the beginning, until she tried it. I now carry the guilt of her being hungry for so long! It's silly, but no-one IRL, with the exception of my parents know that we giving her rice cereal, because I'm afraid of the criticism. damned if you do, damned if you don't, I guess. I do know I have a much happier baby, and this Mum and Dad are getting more sleep!
    Wishing you some ZZZZZZ's. Hope you get some soon.  

  13. # Blogger Shannon

    have you tried to pump recently? I'm just wondering how much milk you are making... maybe you aren't making as much as you were and they are just hungry... it happens...

    Lore at 4m was on rice ceral and started on sweet potatoes... but then again she had horrible acid relux... and she screamed a lot like the twins are doing... maybe they have a touch of acid relux... another idea...

    But, you need to sleep... the hubs need to sleep... do what you think is best... but if you go with formula... you could see if the peds office has some samples of formula... to test out on the kiddos to see if it helps... and then most formula companies help out with samples etc if you have twins... because I know money is tight...

    But hang in there sweeties!  

  14. # Blogger Sugar and Ice

    Since the two of us are in virtually the same position, I always feel good offering up my own experience. I don't want to down anyone else's suggestion, but I do understand why you have yet to start using formula to get them to sleep more. It has been suggested to me, and I feel like kicking people in the face every time it's mentioned. I've worked this long without it...I'm not going to start now. That's just the way I feel personally. Not that I have anything against formula or formula feeders, but I didn't give it to LG, and I'm not using it with the twins. do we get these kids to sleep? Well, I've told you that the only way I've really been able to make it work has been to co-sleep. I keep a pack n play next to my bed. Someone is usually in it, but by morning, they're usually both with me. I understand completely if that's not something you're comfortable with, but it's been a lifesaver (sleepsaver??) for us.

    As far as your pediatrician...they all seem to have different theories on this solid food thing. Some say 4 months...some 5...some 6. Some say 4-6. Some say earlier than 4 causes allergies, some say if you start later than 6 it causes allergies. If you'd gone to the pediatrician next door, he or she may have told you something completely different. I personally didn't really listen to my pediatrician (she said it was fine to introduce something at 4 months). All three of mine were 5 months old when I introduced cereal. We've been doing one small meal a day in the evenings for about two weeks. They're not really all that into it...and it hasn't helped a darn bit for getting them to sleep more at there goes that theory.

    Good luck with everything! If you ever want to rant, please email me. Odds are, I've either gone through it or am still going through it now.  

  15. # Blogger Damselfly

    Oh, that sounds terrible! And you're just getting over being sick on top of all that. I cannot imagine.

    Almost all the other commenters have weighed in with ideas, so I thought I'd share mine....

    My pediatrician wanted Fly to start cereal at four months. I tried it for about three weeks, and because he had great spitup issues, I decided to wait until 6 months. It was much better then.

    The spitup caused me so much worry, and it was an issue until almost 18 months. Neither our pediatrician nor a specialist could really give me any advice or medication for it other than to wait it out.

    But it's interesting to me that some people now seem to think colic is the same thing as acid reflux/heartburn. I wasn't convinced at the time that Fly had colic, but he was a terrible sleeper. We elevated the head of his bed, and I later learned to watch what I ate because I was nursing him. (My pediatrician indicated it didn't matter to me what I ate. Ha! Then I cut out dairy and citrus, and voila -- no more spitup.) And then, we started giving Fly a quarter teaspoon of regular ol' Mylanta at night before bed. That seemed to help. We still give him Mylanta at night (a larger dose now) if he wakes up a lot, which he does sometimes, and because he doesn't verbalize everything, we assume it's his stomach unless we can tell he's sniffly or something else is making him wake up.

    I know you've tried everything (tranquilizer darts!), and if giving a small dose of adult OTC stomach medicine doesn't freak you out, maybe that might help. I sure hope something will. Even if it's just a developmental phase that's waking them up, you and your hubs definitely need more sleep than what you're getting, poor things!  

  16. # Anonymous Laura McIntyre

    I just want to offer my hugs and hopes things get better.
    Honestly my Ru is a terrible sleeper, good nights are nights when he only wakes 4/5 times and he is known for staying awake for hours during the night (12.30 - 4.30 last night) . I know how tired and drained i feel so can not imagine how it would be with two. I hope they start to sleep soon..

    FWIW Ru is 6 months today and we started solids last weekend , and so far no change with sleeping. Only one night has he really taken anything and he took a decent amount of it and that night was just as bad as the rest. Not sure solids would be a great answer.  

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