Monday, January 12, 2009

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Someone I "met" online a few months ago (and still plan to meet in person, once we can get our schedules aligned) just blogged about the sleep problems she's suddenly having with her son now that he's around three months old, and how frustrating it is for her.

My heart just goes out to her.

Sleep depravity with a newborn or any baby / child who isn't sleeping for long stretches at night is so difficult to endure. Sleep depravity messes with your head and makes you a mean/snappy person to those you love most. In my case? My husband and my toddler. I was not a very loving or patient wife/mother for a few months there when Jacob was around 3-6 months. I was so angry with myself for having such a short fuse, but at the same time, I couldn't do anything about it and that made me MORE grumpy. I even wondered if maybe I had PPD, but then I would always remind myself, "No, you just have NO SLEEP!"

Here's an edited version of the response I left on her blog. I wanted to post it here because this is a very important/personal issue to me that I didn't cover well enough while it was happening, because honestly I'm not too good at talking about not being good enough. Hopefully, someone else can be encouraged from my experience.

Here goes:

"Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry. Having just recently come out of my sleep-deprived haze with Jacob, I can certainly sympathize with you. Jacob pulled that, "I suddenly no longer know how to sleep!" nonsense with me from about 4 through 6 months (not that he was any good at sleeping through the night before that, but at least he could fall asleep on his own or nap for longer than like 20 minutes at a stretch - which he still doesn't really do). Having come out the other side - finally! - a month or so ago, around month 7, I want to encourage you that it will get better...even if in your grogginess you feel like that will never happen.

You'll be there soon. He'll learn how to cry himself to sleep after just a few minutes, and not an hour or two (oh the heartbreak...). He'll learn how to sleep through the night after just a few nights of you "forgetting" to turn on the monitor before bed (because there's no way you can HEAR you baby cry in the night and not go to him, especially when you're so tired and you know that getting up to nurse him will take much less time than staying awake listening to him crying for an hour or more).

Just last night, as Ryan and I played a game of Boggle before bed (yes, we are crazy like that), I said, "Aren't you so happy to have the real Leah back? Not the mean, grouchy, constantly tired / unable to handle things Leah that blamed you for EVERYthing and never slept for more than like 3 hours at a time for a few months?"

He just nodded and smiled. It's good to be back.


Brent and Abigail said...

we still have an almost 3 year old who still doesn't like to sleep through the night. he does well for a while then reverts back to waking up in the middle of the night. my brother was the same way and eventually grew out of it. we've tried everything to get him to sleep. but it does affect your whole day/mood. at least right now we're preparing for having another infant :) and i'm already praying the baby loves to sleep since our little boy doesnt.

Anonymous said...

Oh my - I am just now getting a chance to comment on this! I am the desperate mom who is having sleep issues with my second baby. Leah, I appreciate so much your kind comment on my blog. It is always so helpful to know when another mom has gone through a similar situation.I know things will get better someday, but boy is it hard to deal with right now. *sigh*

To the other commenter (Abigail?), I sincerely hope that your new little one is a naturally good sleeper. I think part of the reason I'm having such a tough time with my baby boy's lack of sleep is because my 2.5 year old daughter was also not a good sleeper. Kind of like you described, she does great for a while, then reverts. I was so sure that my little boy would be an easy baby. I was totally not expecting the current issues we're having.

PS - Leah, I'm looking forward to getting together someday :) Hopefully soon when the weather warms up and my little guy gets his issues sorted out.