Unspoken

I had a much different post planned. I was going to post pictures of our awesome sNOw hunt on New Years Day. I was going to write the post after Spencer went to bed. And here it is 10:30 at night and I just got him to fall asleep. It took 2 hours. Probably 5 nights of 7, it takes this long to put him to bed. We have a routine, bath, jammies, most nights a book, bottle, nurse, bed. It doesn’t work.

There are plenty of contributing factors: my milk supply is getting worse, he is only nursing 2-3 times a day; he misses his dad so much during the day that he gets really worked up when he is home and is normally not calmed down by bedtime; we aren’t super consistent with our routine. All of these things put together make a routine that rarely works and a very unhappy Amy.

I am seriously considering a combination of sleep training and weaning. I realize I am opening myself up to criticism by even posting this and I don’t really care. Here is why:

  • Spencer is a toddler. I am not sleep training a teeny tiny baby. He is almost a year and a half old.
  • People say “if you sleep train him, he will cry and that is cruel.” He cries now. For hours, while I nurse him, when I lay him down sleeping, before his bottle, after his bottle, he kicks, he screams, he bites. Sometimes for hours. I fail to see how 5 minutes of crying is worse.
  • While I am upstairs, holding Spencer, being bitten, kicked in the face and listening to screaming. My husband is downstairs not experiencing these things. This makes me resent my husband. Why is my husband not putting to Spencer to bed? We have a division of labor and bedtime falls on my side. Also? I have the boobs. I’m not sure how a mother who resents the father is a good parent to any child.
  • At night, when I sit in the dark, holding my toddler who refuses to sleep, I am starting to get flashes of resentment, of rage, of desperation and hate. Directed at my darling toddler. How is that good parenting?

If it sounds like I am trying to justify something, that I have doubts, well, that’s because it is true. But, I can’t take it anymore. I start dreading bed time at 6 pm. It lasts until 10-11pm. Almost every night. Say 5 nights a week for 4.5 hours. That is over 24 hours a week. A full day every week that I am stressed to the point of near-vomiting. That I don’t always love my child to the fullest. And if that situation is fixable, it would be stupid not to try. Judge me, hate me, unfollow me. I don’t care. I’ve been bitten, scratched, screamed at, kicked through a year of horrible bed times. The solution starts now.

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37 Responses to “Unspoken”

  1. Cole says:

    No judgment here; at 16 months, I still don’t reliably sleep through the night. While I usually go to bed all right, Mimmy does not seem to be a fan of the 4AM wake ups. Right now, if I start crying before, say, 6, she waits about 5 minutes to see if I’ll go back to sleep before coming in. I’m not a huge fan of this new system, but I AM getting more sleep…

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    It’s funny. I don’t mind the wake ups nearly as much as the epic battle for going to sleep. Because in addition to all this, he doesn’t sleep through the night either. Cole, you’ll be fine with the new system. Good Luck!

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  2. Jody says:

    Let ’em judge you. Only you know what is best for you and your family. Clearly, what is going on now isn’t working. The only thing that makes sense is to try something else. Best of luck to you, I hope it starts getting better soon.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    The problem with the judgment is that I kind of agree. I do think that most sleep training is wrong. I am just desperate enough to ignore my own beliefs. You know better than anyone just how long this has been. It is time.

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  3. Kate says:

    At 16 months Spencer has clearly figured out how to get your attention, whether it be negative or positive. He also exhibits all the effects of a sleep deprived over tired child. Wht he needs now more than anything is sleep. Sleep training is not a bad thing, but necessary. Good luck

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Yes, he is an attention seeking missile.

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  4. Best of luck. That is really rough. I know they have a Happiest Baby on the Block book for Toddlers. Maybe that might help in addition to what you’re doing?

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    That book comes so highly recommended. I’ve been meaning to get it for a while. I just never knew the terrible twos came quite so early.

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  5. Natalie says:

    We slept trained our daughters. I Read Dr. Ferber’s book and it isn’t cruel, it isn’t mean and it isn’t “letting them cry for hours”. It is letting them figure out how to to get themselves to sleep. It was hard, but definitely necessary for us. It doesn’t work for everyone or every child. You have to find what will work for you.

    Don’t let anyone tell you how to properly parent your child. Maybe some see it as cruel, but mine did the same thing Spencer does and it does start to take a toll on you.

    We have a routine now, and yes, some nights the girls don’t fall sleep until 10, but they are in their own beds at 8–not crying and just trying to get themselves to a place where they want to fall asleep. Some nights (like last) were worse than others, but overall I have my nights back, which is amazing.

    You deserve that. My daughters do not have any lasting feelings of resentment, they feel just as safe and loved as they did when I cried MYSELF to sleep.

    Good luck, I’m here for you if you need a soundboard. *hugs*

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thank you. My childless self fell firmly in the anti-camp. I was one of THOSE people. This is hard for me. I first started talking about it around his first birthday, but things improved. Now, not so much. I just can’t imagine how the current state is the best things for him.

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    Natalie Reply:

    Oh I was adamantly against it when I had them, and I tried EVERYTHING and EVERY OTHER METHOD and nothing worked for us. It took awhile, but the Ferber method just happened to be what was best for us.

    You may find it isn’t going to work for you, but I am adamantly opposed to judging anyone’s methods (provided they aren’t ACTUAL abuse) because until you walk in their shoes, you don’t know.

    Believe me, I cursed Bill up and down when he suggested it. Read the book and was like “oh, okay, that doesn’t sound so bad” and tried and FAILED the first time. Realized they needed to be sleeping through the night first, and tried again with success.

    [Reply]

  6. Amy says:

    I am a huge supporter of breast feeding and sleep training.
    I didn’t sleep train my oldest until he was around 20 months. It was HELL!! I can totally relate to what you are going through with the biting, kicking etc. He is 11 now and I still have a hard time getting him to go to bed. My 2nd son we started a little earlier around 15 months and it was hard but worth it and I continued BF him until around 21 months. My 3rd child I started sleep training at 4 weeks, it was so much easier! She was my best eater my best sleeper and at the age of 4 still the easiest to get to bed.
    Don’t feel guilty. I firmly believe that babies/toddlers need that time to rest and learn to sleep on their own, they will be happier babies for it.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thanks so much for coming by and your comment. It means so much to hear that other people have the same struggles. Sitting in the dark at night, desperately hoping for sleep, I feel so alone.

    [Reply]

  7. Mindy says:

    I am not sure I can give any great advice here, but I can provide some support. I think it is okay to let go of those notions we have that there is just one “good” way to parent. I have two children and their personalities have definitely caused my husband and I to adjust according to their needs. I think you have good instincts and a great sense about your own child. Here is my two cents:
    1. Maybe it’s time to change up your division of labor, especially if your son really wants more daddy time.
    2. My kiddos stopped nursing to sleep long before they stopped nursing. We also cut out morning nursing last and night time nursing second to last. Could you nurse maybe 30 mins before bedtime and then have dad put him to sleep?
    3. I personally don’t think that letting an older baby cry a bit is damaging. There are lots of theories about going in and soothing without picking up. I’m sure you could find one that is comfortable for you, easing you out of such a prolonged routine. It’s difficult, but bedtime should not be agony.
    4. The fact that you’re worried and frustrated just shows what a loving, caring mom you are!

    Hang in there! These feelings are normal and felt by many of us. I know we only “know” each other the tiniest bit through twitter, but feel free to email me any time if you just need to vent or talk.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thanks so much for your comment. I agree that this is a familyproblem and my husband and I need to evaluate our roles. Normally, he does the bath and I do the bottle/nursing. We’ll figure something out. I’ve been working on soothing without nursing during night wake-ups and that has greatly improved the sleeping through the night situation, we’ve gone from 3-4 wake ups per night to 1 or 2. I’ve been able to put him to sleep some nights with back rubs in his cribs.

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  8. Well, I think you are doing the total right thing by trusting YOUR instinct about what’s right for YOUR family. Not worrying what some people on the interwebz might think. I’m sorry I can’t offer great advice. ivy has always been a pretty good sleeper

    ::::ducks while you throw things at me:::::

    though I can say that over the past few months when she wakes up in the night and cries, I just let her cry until she either finds the bink herself (please don’t let me get started on the damn binkie) or gets tired and falls asleep. This has led to me putting her in her crib for bedtime fully awake and her putting herself to sleep.

    Also, does your husband give him a bath? Maybe this would be a good way to squeeze more Daddy time in, while letting Spencer know that this is the wind down routine and it’s time to get ready for bed? Also, we love the California Baby ‘calming’ bubble bath. Lavender makes Ivy very mellow and sleeeeeeepy. And should you need to sound off about any of this, feel free to email/chat/tweet me. Good luck mama!

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thanks so much for your comment. My husband does do the bath, but while the baths are fun, I am not sure how calming they are, even with lavender soap. He has been getting better about putting himself back to sleep at night, so I keep thinking that maybe it will lead to going to bed better, but it hasn’t so far. Putting Spencer in bed awake and then having him drifting off to sleep is my dream.

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  9. TMae says:

    Oh, I’m RIGHT THERE WITH YOU. I’ve had this conversation with myself since O was 8 months old, which was about the apex of insanity for me. I don’t know if he actually started sleeping better after that, or if I just made my peace with it. Either way, he got so much better around a year; I was able to nurse him until he got drowsy, and then put him in his crib awake, and leave the room. He might fuss for a minute or so, but nothing longer than 2 minutes (I know, I have a stopwatch). Getting him there SUCKED. It took me about 2 solid weeks of standing with him while he screamed.

    Anyway, all that’s been blown to shit since Thanksgiving. He’s getting harder and harder to put to bed, and he’s been waking up just about every 2 hours. And THE ONLY WAY to get him back to sleep is to nurse him. Which I know perpetuates the problem, but we’ve tried letting his Dad take him, and the dude will SCREAM and throw himself out of Dad’s arms, and slam his head around the crib for THREE HOURS. After 3 hours, I can’t take it, and I cave. I know I’ve created this monster.

    I’ve read every.single.sleep book. Hoping that one would have some piece of magic in it that would make this process less of a suckfest. Unfortunately all they served to do was make me more inept and overwhelmed.

    I think I’ve decided to pick a night – this week, next week…I don’t know yet, and make a change. I don’t know what that change will look like. But I do know that something HAS to change…

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    We will do this together. Sleep-hell twinsies.

    [Reply]

  10. Suzanne says:

    I’ve got no helpful sleep advice but I wanted to tell you that those feelings? Where you end up so so deeply angry at your husband, at your toddler and at EVERYTHING? Yeah, I had those in spades. For me it was after I was pregnant with C and Little Evan still wasn’t sleeping through the night at 14 months. I almost couldn’t believe how much I resented my own kid just for breastfeeding, the kid I was madly in love with during the day and loving rocked to sleep at nap time and then considered selling on Craigslist at 2 am (I’m making it sound funny but it was…not funny). And it was bad for my relationships with both boys – E and Little E, because after a while I couldn’t shake that resentment come morning.

    In the end, weaning is what stopped the sleeping problems. Well, weaning & turning bedtime over to my husband who is not afraid to let a toddler fuss/cry for a few minutes before considering going in to fix it. Now they get daddy-son time in the evenings while I get to calm down and not hate anybody.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    It is so true. I love him SO MUCH during the day. He is funny and we cuddle and he makes me laugh and naps like a champ. In the evenings, I find him less cute, less charming and kind of annoying because he will.not.sleep. And then I start beating myself about about not being a good mother.

    [Reply]

  11. Hugs!!! Hang in there. Whatever you decide to try WILL work and I’m confident it will be the option that’s best for you & your child.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thanks for the hugs and for stopping by.

    [Reply]

  12. amylee says:

    well if letting your kid cry a bit makes you a bad parent, then I guess I’m guilty. we let parker cry for 5, then 10 minute increments. we usually don’t have to go beyond 10-15 minutes total ever. and MOST nights there’s no crying at all. letting parker figure out how to put himself to sleep has been the best decision for my sanity ever. And? He’s the happiest most loving baby during the day, ever. Good luck!

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thanks for your comment. I think I follow too many people on twitter who tweet things about CIO being child abuse and it really got under my skin. Plus I was one of “those people,” who before I had kids had plenty of thoughts on how they should be raised. Now I am a confused parent and my views have changed for sure.

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  13. mrschadden says:

    when we found out we were having muffin the first thing i did was worry about what kind of sleeper she would be. i asked for advice from everyone i knew…bought books, read them, put some back, etc. my brother and SIL have 4 kids (2 boys, 2 girls) and those kids were always champion sleepers… so, naturally, i asked her for her books and advice (babywise). in the first few days home, we realized that book wasn’t going to cut it for us… she nursed, i gave that up after 6 weeks…our pediatrician recommended The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg (hubs was stoked as the author is british and uses a lot of terms he is familiar with!). this worked for us…E.A.S.Y. is her routine: Eat, Awake, Sleep, Your time. She has a book for toddlers, too…our 29 month old likes to hang out in her crib and chat, sing, play sometimes, but she doesn’t, USUALLY, scream or fight to go to sleep. i know everyone is different, but if you are looking for as many options as possible, don’t pass this/these book/s up! i swear by them!

    good luck with this…you are not alone! :o)

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thanks for coming by and your comment. I am headed to the bookstore tomorrow to check out the recommendations I have gotten, both here, in emails and on twitter. I will certainly look in to your suggestions. Thanks again!

    [Reply]

  14. Kim says:

    You are certainly not alone. JD was an AWFUL sleeper, and after I found out we were pregnant with baby O, I had a complete emotional breakdown at the pediatricians office when the nurse asked a routine question about JD’s schedule. (There is probably a big C for Crazy on my kid’s file.) They had the doctor on call that night call me and walk me through CIO. She was great, and i just had to get over the guilt. After 2 days it was a remarkably better situation, he’s happier, my relationship with my husband was better, and I don’t regret at all. One thing the dr. said that has really stuck with me is that a happy mom is a much better mom.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I think that is the point I am at. I am certainly an unhappy mom when it comes to bedtime. And that is no good for any of us. Thanks for stopping by and commenting and letting me share in your story.

    [Reply]

  15. Dan says:

    Do you know what, I’ve been following u for a while on twitter, Spencer is a couple of weeks older than Oliver and it’s nice to hear what you’re up to with him but I never realised that u had such sleep issues with him.

    I get that you are against sleep training but surely anything (within reason!) is worth a try and will hopefully in the end make u both happier. As new mums there is so much pressure from others to do the right thing. When I first had Oliver I was determined to breastfeed as I thought it was the right thing to do….. I had a really bad time with it, it really wasn’t for me yet I just couldn’t admit defeat, I felt like such a failure and was crying constantly (I’m not really a crier) and was almost to the point of not being able to look after him. I was getting so much pressure piled on from friends who had no issues with it and from healthworkers. In the end, I admitted defeat and
    from that day I was a totally different person, back to my old self and from then on I couldn’t care less what people thought of me not breastfeeding.

    I think you need to do what is right for you and what in the end will make you all happier, forget about people saying leaving kids to cry is wrong, how is it wrong to teach your little man how to get more sleep, he must be getting so overtired everynight which will be making it worse. I know if i get Oli to bed any later than 730 then I’m in trouble, the more tired he is, the harder he is to settle. You’ll probably only be leaving him for a few minutes, as u said, how’s that any worse than the hours of crying he’s doing now.

    We did sleep training really early on with Oli and although I found it really hard to let him cry at the time, he’s been settling himself to sleep everynight with no tears since he was about 6 months old.

    Good luck with it all, I really hope u find a solution to this x

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thank you so much for coming by commenting. The sleep issues have faded in and out. The last few weeks have been like this for sure. October was better. I need to take control of the situation. I appreciate your input and support.

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  16. I just read your blog post and wanted to share my story with you regarding the dreaded bedtime routine that used to happen at out home EVERY NIGHT. This all happened until M was 14 months old (currently 18 months). I would bath, read, cuddle, and bottle feed (lost my milk supply when she was 2-4ish months), rock, hum, sing softly, etc, etc, etc until she fell asleep and then PRAYED that I could move her once she was asleep without waking her. If I did wake her, I would feel like a failure that, once again, it was soon going to e midnight before my daughter was sleeping. After feeling the resentment towards my hubby, much like you mentioned, I took a deep breath and began letting her cry it out. The first week was HELL! She would never cry longer than 20 minutes, but those 20 minutes were horrible. I felt like even more of a failure than I did when I couldn’t get her to sleep at a normal time. I would sit in the hallway and cry for hours, even after she had fallen to sleep. But, then things started to get easier and easier and easier. My relationship with my husband is the best it’s been in a while because we BOTH do the whole bedtime routine AND have time together in the evening. Also, I am happier in general because M is sleeping, I’m sleeping and we are all well rested. Yes, we have our nights here and there, but all in all, I am SO glad that I took control and did it.
    Good luck. Quite honestly, it’s not going to be easy, but it WILL get better!

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thank you so much! I have appreciated everyone’s support and stories on this post more than words could express.

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  17. F&ck the people that may judge you for whatver you choose. SLeep training has my vote. Cry it out has my vote. It worked in my household at 3 1/2 months. It was never cruel in my eyes. I never let it get to a level of cruelness.

    Kids cry. A lot. Toddler? They cry and whine even more!!!!!!

    20 minutes, safe in his crib where he can’t hurt himself is better in my eyes than an hour long tantrum all over the house. The crying in his crib is productive to me. He’s learning to soothe himself, he’s learning what makes him comfortable and eventually that crying will get less and less. I just think consistency plays a HUGE part in it all.

    Good luck to you guys.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I was kind of surprised that I didn’t get a single negative comment. It must mean no one that crunchy reads my blog. I guess I should write more about magic sleep causing placenta bracelets.

    [Reply]

  18. […] updates on this topic.Powered by WP Greet Box WordPress PluginLast night (Sunday) was not so good. After my sleep post last from early January, we were actually getting on pretty well with a 9sih bedtime and two wakes during the night which, […]

  19. […] title of this post matches my twitter profile bio. I put it there after I wrote this post and my dear friend Eileen of Bringing Up Bronwyn suggested that I try and make 2011 full of the […]

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