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September 21, 2006


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I remember that - I lived it back in 2000. One night, after sitting for about 30minutes, I whispered that I had to go wash the dishes but I'd be back in a little bit. When her music tape clicked off, I walked back in and half-whispered, "Should I turn the tape over?" she mumbled, "Huh?" and went back to sleep.

I felt so freaking rich!

We quickly switched to a cd player (no loud CLICK when it stops like the tape player) and made Mozart for Mothers To Be the soundtrack of bedtime. Pavlovian, man.

"I'll be back to check on you in a little bit..."

I just wrote a post similar to this. I have had sleepless children (except when cuddled next to me or my husband) for almost 6 years. But the co-sleeping has allowed me to keep my sanity...and a few extra hours of sleep each night.

This was an excellent post. I so love it when moms write about their struggles in an honest way. It is so helpful to other moms and for women in general, to be transparent about our difficulties.

(I was where you are about 2 years ago...I am filled with empathy for you.)

Well...you didn't ask for my advice, but...then again, maybe you did, it being posted for all to see - which leads to my second question - do your ILs not have Internet access? You are one brave gal. Anyway, I had a somewhat similar issue with an almost 3-year-old when baby #2 came along. Getting up to feed baby #2 AND rub #1's back 5 times a night just got to be too much. I never slept. As painful as it was, I (with hubby's full support & comfort, which was helpful) let him scream for one night (actually from about 3 a.m. to 5 a.m., but who's counting?) Baby #1 doesn't remember a thing and we finally got some sleep. You have to do what works for you and what gets you the most sleep, but be open to change your strategies when #2 comes along...it may get you some much-needed sleep & save your sanity.

I have some light sleepers too. Everyone has a white noise machine, or fan, running in their room every night all night long.

It will pass. Old rituals and routines get replaced with new ones.

Oh, and my 3.5 yr old daughter sits on the couch with me every night after all her siblings have gone to bed and drinks a bottle and watches tv. Almost every night she comes into our bed at some point during the night.

But you know what? My almost 12 yr old doesn't do ANY of those things ;-)

If my kids wake up in the middle of the night, they come into the big bed with us. Kid can go back to sleep, I can go back to sleep, problem solved.

YOU have to get sleep too!

If they would only sleep, parenting would be a lovely breeze.

I sit here exhausted in tears after reading all these comments. I'm there with a 9 month old who hasn't slept well for 4 months. She naps well, goes down without a fuss but wakes every hour or two during the night and needs a lot of resettling. I'm scared it's never going to end.
A sleep specialist is coming next week but I'm not confident I can impliment the strategies they suggest. Recently we've brought her into bed with us when she first wakes up rather than being up and down all night long to persevere with the crying and settling techniques. I've always been so anti-co-sleeping so I feel like a hypocrite. This is Karma for bragging about my newborn who slept through the night in her own bed from 5wks!

Yes, meet her in the middle. That is the best you can do.

My older son needed one of us in the room with him to fall asleep until he turned four. We took turns and read a book with a flashlight. When he was four we limited the time to ten minutes and left the door open. Our place was tiny and he could actually see us sitting on the couch from his bed.

My second son? Couldn't care less if anybody is there or not. In fact if you stay with him he goes into clown mode and puts on a show for you!

So you do what you have to do and it will all turn out allright in the end.

Remember, nobody knows your child as well as you do!

You do what you need to do, what she needs you to do. When WonderBaby wakes up in the night, the only thing that works is bringing her into bed. So we do it, we do it. It's hard. But there will be harder things, and then, too, the only thing to do will be to do whatever works.

Lila's so much the same way, and she's 3. I've tried transitioning her to her own bed so many times, and it's just not working. I finally realized this last time I went away with just the kids that I don't mind sleeping with her at all. It's my husband who makes it impossible to sleep! So he sleeps in her bed and my girl and I have the big King.

THe man rubs his feet together all night long. Such bed shaking without any nookie, just isn't right.

My son is almost 5 and we still cosleep probably 50-75% of the time. Spoiled? -- I don't know. It works for us, it works for him. I'm a big "pick your battles" kind of person, and sleep is the one thing that I need and he needs and this way works for all of us. *shrug* So people can think what they will. This works FOR US. As another reply said, a good portion of the world has a family bed until the child(ren) decide they want to sleep separately from the parents. Who's to say that their way is wrong? I tend to think that children feel safe and secure with some degree of cosleeping.

Do what you need to for YOUR family, your sanity, to get SOME SLEEP, darnit!!

Awww, that is sad and kinda funny all at the same time. I am sure that many parents go through this and you are deffinately not the only one out there.. You are a great momma, she just needs you now. I am glad that you finally came to the conclusion that, this is what she needs.. GOOD JOB MOMMA!

I've got 3 kids. My "baby" who's 7, still sleeps with my husband and me. We've created a monster!!!!

I've got 3 kids. My "baby" who's 7, still sleeps with my husband and me. We've created a monster!!!!

I've got 3 kids. My "baby" who's 7, still sleeps with my husband and me. We've created a monster!!!!

So totally understand. I do things my own wrong way with my kids. I've broken all the "rules" about sleeping. My son is 2 and still naps 98 % of the time in my lap. My daughter was the same way until her little brother's arrival put a stop to that. Then she just pretty much gave up naps.

Sometimes I think I have better things to do, or could be doing.

Mostly I think how lucky I am to be able to cuddle him (and previously, her) when he's still little. It's over all too soon.

I hear this. It usually takes about an hour to get my 16mo to sleep and as I lay there I think about all the precious me time, slipping away from me as I remain still. It's so hard to balance what we want and what our children need. But they are little for such a short amount of time, I tend to lean towards their needs, letting my wants wait.

Am I bitter sometimes? YUP. But hey, that's what blogs are for.

Thank you for sharing this.

I have nothing profound or helpful to offer. It's hard, this doing what they need thing. So hard, yet somewhere we keep finding the strength to do it. Stay strong -- I have to believe that "this too will pass!"

Hang in there. I survived this with all 3 sons. It is very exhausting and frustrating. Often afternoon naps would destroy the whole day. But, now, looking back, those times together trying to get them to sleep are among my favorite memories. Just snuggle and enjoy it, don't fight it.

Sometimes I lay down by my kids as they're falling asleep just for the fun of it. They open up and talk, and snuggle. They won't do that forever.

I totally went through this with my daughter and thought it would never end.

But it did - on her time. Be patient. It'll happen.

I think I was pregnant with my second when I started doing this with my first. Finally something that worked! My daughter was a light sleeper, incredibly difficult to get to sleep, my husband was working long hours, and I was exhausted. Now my girls are 3 and 5. They share a room, and I usually lay with my 3 year old while they both fall asleep. After stories are read and the lights are out, we usually talk for a few minutes. On nights when it seems to be taking awhile, I remind myself they won't be small forever and read a book with a small flashlight.

Mine was the same way. It was lucky I was a stay at home Mom because I had to hold her for every nap. Thankfully we bottle fed so my husband could do the night shift, mainly for one reason, he could go back to sleep easily, I can't. If I got and did the 30 minutes or whatever to feed or get her back to sleep I'd be awake for the rest of the night, he would just be asleep in seconds so that worked for us. She is almost 2 and a half and moving her to a toddler bed actually changed her sleeping habits for the better. She sleeps good and long now. She wasn't for a few weeks so the husband employed the CD player and we've been having peaceful sleeping every since.

Trout slept through the night from day one until we moved her to the crib, at 16 months, at which time she would scream until she puked. We got her there by sleeping on the floor and holding her hand through the bars of the crib. Then two months later, we needed to move her to the toddler bed because her brother was coming and we needed the crib (no, we didn't plan that very well). At that point I had to sit next to the toddler bed every night for at least an hour while she rubbed my hair on her cheek (my hair was her comfort object). Finally I got her a doll with long hair (which at the time was rather hard to find), but I still had to sit there for a while. Eventually, she did go to sleep okay, but then would get up and come to our room several times a night. I was desperate. Finally, she told us she wanted to sleep in the big bed (the twin bed) in her room, not the little one, so we moved her to that. Then I had to lay down with her. It drove me crazy, especially since Little Man liked the crib and went to sleep on his own really well, so it was a lingering problem of being frustrated with Trout. But you know what? She eventually did it on her own, when she was ready. She sleeps great now. It helped a lot when school started (preschool, I mean), and that tired her out more.

You just do what you gotta do - whatever works for you and Q. But know that you aren't alone, no matter what you do - other moms have felt that frustration, too.

Yeah, well, sleep is highly over-rated... or at least that is what I have told myself for 5 freaking years!

I can't tell you how many nights I just gave up and let her walk around stumbling until she finally just collapsed. It can be pretty entertaining.

Seriously, its better now. She starts out on a the floor near our bed and only wakes up once or twice now... usually between 2-4 am she crawls into bed with us.

She is 6 today...

Last time I mentioned sleeping in her room in her bed by herself, "Oh! I don't think I will be doing that until I am grown up." I so hope that she was joking.

You have my deepest sympathy.

My daughter is almost a year. I rock her to sleep with a bottle every night in her glider. While I'm there I think to myself how everyone says that she should sleep on her own, how I shouldn't rock her, and how she shouldn't have a bottle to fall asleep.

I've tried the CIO, the sitting on the floor next to the crib....but rocking her works easier and with no screaming.

Ya know what. Soon enough she wont want me to rock her anymore....and I'll probably still want to. So I enjoy it while it lasts.

Oh yeah, we have sleep issues in our house as well. After he was about a week old, the baby REFUSED to sleep in his crib, so into the bed he came. And I wasn't planning on doing that just because I'm a hippie-I really wanted him in his own bed! But, like you said, you just do what you have to do. And I HAD to sleep, so...he's still in our bed(at almost 8 mos). It kind of freaks me out to think that when he's like 8 he could still be there...no...must not think like that!

So what you are saying is that nanny Jo-Jo lies?

I hate to be "that mom" but posts like this make the all the more grateful that my daughter slept through the night from day 3. I can only pray that the one I'm carrying now will be as sound a sleeper! Good luck, and I wish I had some advice to pass on!

Oh and on sleeping with or without you... Ya gotta do what you gotta do. :-)

Man am I with YOU! I read the other day how much we moms just really need some validation and to know we are not alone in our experience. your plight sounds very close to mine and I sympathize with your just laying with her now to get your much needed rest. I do the same trying so hard to get her to sleep in that crib all night long and I try and try but when I've had enough I just lay down with her. Sounds like your are a very sensitive and loving mom but I do hope for you and for myself that lovely sleep returns to your nights very soon.

Thanks so much for the post as it was so comforting to read this morning as I am almost in tears from the exhaustion sitting here at my desk.

These mommy blogs help me soooo much...so thanks

My son didn't sleep through the night on a regular basis until he was 2 years and 3 months. (And by regular basis, I mean 2 nights in a row.)

This may sound really crazy but when I push him in a swing for awhile, he sleeps better at night. Its some sort of sensory thing. He's a light sleeper too. But the movement helps calm a child's system. (An Oc therapist told me this awhile back.) She told me its even more important in times of transition, like a move, start of school, end of school, etc.) But even 20 minutes on a swing a few hours before bed does wonders... Try it for a few days maybe? (I can tell when Seth doesn't get any of his "swing time" in -- he wakes up throughout the night even now at the age of 4 years. And even now if he hasn't been on a swing in a few days, we'll swing 30-40 minutes, like his system needs to catch up.)

If you decide to try it, I hope it works for you. I understand how precious sleep is!

I just want you to know I can completely appreciate your situation. I wrote a very similar post not long ago, thinking we would make some progress soon and we are still in the same place. He's just not ready. It is so important to recognize that instead of giving in to what it seems our society feels is "normal" sleep (crying it out).

And yes, I know that grab.

Tough deal with your toddler. I don't envy your situation.

With your next one maybe you should start him(?), from day 1, sleeping in his own bed.

Good luck!

what a gorgeously honest post. one of the things i love most about us women is that we continue to SHOW UP. no matter how hard, what toll, or what suffering it may cause, we show up and do what needs to be done for our children.

i feel you, sister. this too shall pass. i've had some awfully long nights myself in the past two years...and i feel you.

I feel your pain and have made similar decions. I've spent many a night lying there waiting and waiting and waiting for my son or daughter to fall asleep.

My son is now 3. We all coslept until his sister arrived when he was a little over 2. Everyone kept telling me I needed to get him out of the bed before she arrived, but I just couldn't do it. I didn't want to, he wanted to be with us, and I just thought we'd let the chips fall where they would (and part of me gets a little defiant/rebellious when someone tells me I "have to" do something - I'll do it when I'm good & ready!). Surprisingly, after she was born he wanted to sleep in his big boy bed - only, he wanted someone in it with him! It's only been recently that he will occasionally sleep all by himself, I really think he'd do it if we pushed, but we often relent if he requests someone's presence.

If it helps any at all, I think as the child gets older and you get frustrated sitting there waiting, it gets easier to just leave. My 3 yr old no longer does the frantic crying that he would have done when he was younger. He might whine, he might call out for us, but usually he'll just fall asleep.

I'm totally in support of doing what works for YOU!!!

people wonder how I read so many books. This would be how. For naps and bedtime, I read X number of books (usually 3 picture plus 1 chapter), then I read my book and everyone falls asleep. Dunno if it would work for you, but I go mad just laying there doing nothing, so I *need* the book.

This too shall pass. And then you'll miss the snuggling. :( My 8yo is now an amazing sleeper, but she didn't sleep through the night until she was well past 3.

For a LONG time mIra was unable to sleep unless Enya, Mazzy Star, Portishead or something of the like was playing. Her sister HATES music. Since they are sharing a room we got a small room hepa filter form Home Depot for $40. It makes white noise and cleans teh air. they BOTH sleep better. Mira is excite dto get her own room b/c it means she can have her Hepa Filter AND music. Until we figured out her need for these things nighttime was a hellish cycle of rocking and me passing out in the back breaking recliner. Basically she was terrified of feeling alone. Maybe give em a try?

My daughter had sleep issues too. We did the co-sleeping thing as well. When I am lying in her bed waiting for her to go to sleep, I write an imaginary letter to her college roommate. It will start out congratulatory and then get into the specifics of how the arrangement works. I am sure the roommate will appreciate the information if she ever wants to get some sleep.

In a few more months, you won't always be able to do this. She will adjust then. And let's hope the new baby is a deep, deep sleeper :o)

Oh, heavens. Your daughter sounds exactly like my son until just a few months ago. It used to be that ANYTHING would wake him up, and then he would cry until someone came to soothe him back to sleep. And crying it out didn't work with him either, because just like Q, he would just get more and more agitated the longer we let him cry, until we would go in to find him standing up in bed, his clothes soaked in tears, red-faced and screaming so loudly we thought the neighbors might call the cops. And if we ever let it get to that point, it would take hours to get him back to sleep, if he went back to sleep at all.

And I know it's genetic, because at my baby shower, when I was seven or eight months pregnant with Isaac, my husband's grandmother asked me, in a sort of worried whisper, "So . . . is John still such a, um, light sleeper as he was when he was a little boy?" And when I said, "Why do you ask?" my mother-in-law blanched white as a ghost, loudly shushed her mother, and immediately changed the subject.

I can't offer advice, only sympathy, and perhaps a bit of hope-- my son now sleeps at least 7-8 hours straight at least 85% of the time, and about half the time we can leave him alone in his room while he's still awake and he goes to sleep on his own.

(He still insists that I hold him on my lap while he falls asleep for his afternoon nap, though *sigh* And I do it like a sucker, too, because otherwise he won't take a nap at all, and I'm damn sure not ready to give the nap up yet!)

Oh man, it was hard enough for us dealing with this for one year, but two - I feel you. I'm with Karen. I'm a firm believer in the "do what you gotta do" school of parenting.

Oh man, I'm so sorry. I can't imagine being sleep deprived for two whole years. Have you tried giving her Ambien? Just crush 'em up and put it in her milk. Works wonders with our kid. JUST KIDDING! We would never use Ambien on our child. Of course, Benadryl is a different story.

I have found that the best way to get my boys to sleep is to just give in and sleep with them. Getting the 5 year old to sleep is easy. He just lays down and goes to sleep. The 2 year like yours is not so easy. It seems like he is in a stage where sleep is not necessary. A few weeks ago he stayed up until 3am.
We are slowly phasing out co-sleeping and they have actually slept in their own beds a few times in the past 2 weeks so I know they can do it. Its me that has the problem.

You should definitely be napping anyway! It is a struggle. I gave up with my last, because she gave up her naps at two years. She would fight so hard, I just said "fine, I can't do this anymore."

Hmmm, that is exactly what I do with George, meet him where he is- and yes, it is painful.

I slept on the couch with him last night all night. Not comfortable at all.

It seemed the only way he'd sleep.

I feel like a parenting sucker sometimes too, but mostly I know that I just have to do what I have to do, and it isn't the alternative, of letting him scream and scream and scream.

We had the same issues with our older daughter. She refused to sleep. Until she was 18 months old, we woke up every two hours because she'd cry (a lot). Until her baby sister arrived, we were still going to her room to calm her down at least twice. My blood would boil at night because I would be lying next to her for 2 hours. We slowly "weened" her off because the baby was arriving and we knew the newborn would need much more of our attention at night. She turned three last week and can't believe she is finally sleeping trhough the night. She will fall asleep on her own too.

The doctor told me one time that the light sleepers are the smart ones. Q will be a genius!

I remember for a period of two months, when my daughter was one, she was such a light sleeper we would have to put her down, and then duck (seeing our head disappear would set her off) and crawl on our hands and knees out of the room. WTF??!!

Hang in there Kristen - I'm sure you've heard this a million times, but it does get easier.

I guess we sometimes forget how it was to be a child. They're not trying not to sleep to spite you, or because they know there's a good film on, and - what the hey, let's stop mummy from watching it... They probably just want somebody to be near (like Jenny said in her post), after a long, tiring day of discovery and play. And it's such a big, often scary world to them. And the night? That can be even scarier. So do what works best for you, but as you say-keeping in mind this is just a little human being who just doesn't understand everything yet. Good luck to you both!

Oh, the hoops we used to jump through to get P to sleep... He's pretty easy now but I remember it all vividly. *yawwwwwn*

Ah yes I know the grab of which you speak....it all rings a bell. Poor first kids....Mine is a daughter too. It doesn't matter how long it took, it just matters that you get it, Kristen. Look at the responses you are getting....it is so fucking hard sometimes to sit there, and just BE. I am so unbelievably thrilled to read all these responses of Mama's like you choosing to honor and listen to their children, not some book or their own mothers or mothers in law who tell them they need to "learn" to sleep....
Brilliant and beautiful post, thank you so much.
Holy Crap, Woman, you can write...

You are having a boy.
Children in almost the whole of eastern hemisphere of the earth sleep in their parents bed. They are actually moved out when they demand a bed / room of their own. So relax... half the planet cant be nuts - or maybe it is :D - who cares as long as you have a peacefully sleeping well rested family.
My 3 yo not only sleeps in our bed, he even uses my arm as a pillow. When hubby & I need some ahem.. privacy, we just go into another room.

Boy do I remember this struggle all too vividly.

The screaming, the crying, the head-banging(mine-not theirs.) I didn't know what to do to get them to sleep, so I did what you did. I met them in the middle. And it worked. And eventually, they didn't need mommy beside them anymore.

And now, I miss that. How the time flies so quickly.

Just not when you are in the middle of it.

We used to walk Adam to sleep when he was wee..for what felt like hours. Then we lay down with him and saw our 'own' time tick away. Then we read bedtime stories and cajoled him into staying in his own bed. We still do this and he still crawls into our bed in the night.

He is four.

Caity goes to bed alright...with nothing but a night night and a bottle...but then she wakes every two hours and wants MORE bottles....she is 2 also.

My theory has always been do what works....for me and my kids.

I will have plenty of 'me' time down the road.

But I used to hate missing out on time with friends when they were over visiting and I had to go lay down with Adam.

It didnt' last forever....

nothing does.

Thanks for this. I often feel like no one understands why I refuse to let my son "cry it out." Look--I know him better than anyone else. Isn't that enough?

Cross my heart --- my daughter did not sleep through the night until she was 5. She too, could not cry it out, for many reasons which were all valid in our family. She would go to bed ok, she is even a lights out shut the door kind of kid --- but then she'd be up and I'd be sleeping with her, on and off. And eventually? It stopped. I don't remember if it was bribery or reason or a growth spurt (for one or both of us). It ends...and you'll grab onto your full nights of sleep with both arms around your pillow and you won't want to let go. And then, just a little bit, you'll miss it! I promise she won't leave for college wishing you were going along!!! (And now we're at the point where we can have "sleepovers" in my bigger bed on occasion and it does not disrupt the normal sleep pattern. Hooray! Ok, well, she IS 11, but slept with me fulltime from age 7-10...for many reasons.)

You are doing it all just right.

Good for you, Kristen. A bit before my son turned one, I had a friend telling me adamantly that I needed to "help him learn to self-soothe." I don't know how she wanted me to do that, or why she thought that seeing how he slept and how I dealt with his occasional non-sleeping while we were sharing a hotel room with a strange adult and two strange little girls was a good measure of how either of us normally acted.

So I shrugged, and went on with my normal routine of holding him and rocking him as long as he needed me to. And then he had his birthday, and suddenly he went to one nap a day, and shortly thereafter started wanting me to put him down awake. Which he does to this day (he's two now). I'm well aware that I'm very lucky... but I also think there's a lot to be said for waiting until your child is developmentally ready for whatever transition you're thinking of making.

Oh my, do I ever know where you're coming from here.

Kristen - my oldest is five and the younger is two and a half. I have slept through the night fewer than ten times since the day I first gave birth. In five years. Swear.

It gets harder before it gets easier, but it is getting easier.

The eldest has some... shall we say, issues. Crying it out was not an option for him or for me. But he turned 3 or 4 and poof - he sleeps like a rock. Getting him to be STILL AND QUIET long enough to fall asleep is the problem.

The other one will be pacified into sleep but if you daydream about thinking about starting a rumor about someone on another continent rumpling some tissue paper, he will wake the hell up again.

I. So. Hear you.

Don't beat yourself up. Do what you have to do to get through it. They insist we will miss this some day.

We'll see. We'll see.

And it's all you can do. It's the missing instruction in all those parenting tomes: sometimes there isn't anything left to do but to resign yourself to doing what works best.

My daughter had no sleep issues, until she was 2.5 and my father died. I think that she didn't understand what it meant to die or where grandpa went, but there was traveling and strange beds and all the grown-ups were crying. So to get her to sleep while staying at my mom's during the funeral, we stayed in her room until she fell asleep.

Two years later, my husband is currently lying on the floor next to her bed, waiting for her to fall asleep. Is it ideal? Hell no. Is it developmentally appropriate? Probably not.

Do I care anymore? No. You do what you have to.

There are some days that I love sleeping with my 2-year-old, and others where I have this same seemingly endless battle. Lately I've taken to knitting while I wait for her to fall asleep, and miraculously, she's okay with it. For now. We'll see how long that lasts...

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