Sunday, July 1, 2007


My daughter, Jozey, is 13 months old today. For months now, we've been trying to figure out how to get her to sleep through the night. No luck. She wakes at least twice, sometimes even more often, and nursing seems to be the fastest way to get her back to sleep. The challenge is I need sleep, too. So, inevitably, I end up bringing her into our bed, nursing her and falling asleep. That means, if she starts to stir, neither my husband nor I get much rest....and she's the only one who wakes up refreshed.

When Max was about 17 months old, we spent a week or so, teaching him to fall asleep on his own. Until that point, it was a daily ritual to rock him in our arms ( a ritual my husband particularly enjoyed) until he was in a deep sleep. Then we would lay him down, and he would be out for the night. But we were beginning to notice that it would take longer and longer for him to fall asleep. We realized that he was probably forcing himself to stay awake because of our company, (and because we were rocking him in the living room, with the television on...yes, we were that naive). So, while my husband was away on business travel, I instituted a sleep schedule for Max. I would put him down for his naps, after a ritual of one book and slow rocking. I would leave the room and he would cry...and cry...and cry. I forced myself to let him cry for up to one hour, then I would rush in and get him up. And, we'd try again for the next scheduled nap. After a week or so, the duration of crying decreased and by the time my husband returned from his business trip, Max was able to soothe himself to sleep. As a result, at the age of 3.5, he's a pretty consistent sleeper and is able to fall asleep on his own about 90 percent of the time.

Now, my daughter is another story. One would think that, since she's the 'typical one', we'd have no problem allowing her to cry it out and get her on a better schedule. But, here's the glitch. She's never really had a schedule. From her early weeks of life, her schedule has revolved around her brother's schedule. She would come along to every appointment imaginable. And, if she fell asleep in the car, well, that would be her nap. Once we got to an appointment, she was sure to wake up. Here we are, at 13 months of age, and she still takes her morning naps in the car, after we drop Max off at preschool. She naps anywhere from an hour to hour and half, then we run errands. I try to get her to take another nap in the afternoon, at the same time Max does, but that's always touch and go. And bedtime is a very long, extended affair.

So, knowing this history, does it make sense to let her cry it out? Isn't it to her benefit to learn how to soothe herself to sleep? What is it that's preventing me from using the same method I used on her older brother? Is it my need to comfort her because I realize that during the day, she gets shortchanged for my attention? At 3.5, Max still needs a great deal of help with dressing, eating and toileting -- stuff that a typical 3.5 year old would be doing on his own by now. And, whenever he shows an interest in standing or walking, I make it a point not only to encourage him, but to be right there supporting him, literally. So, honestly, Jozey gets somewhat neglected. And, she makes it known that she doesn't like it! Recently, she has started to race after me if I leave her to help Max with something, and grab on to some part of my body. I suppose she's trying to tell me that she needs attention, too.

So, late at night, when I am finally able to give her some undivided attention in the form of nursing her back to sleep, I can't help myself. And, I wonder, how much of this is for her, and how much is for me????


June Cleaver said...

I just found your blog tonight and read "Differences". Im the mom to 28 week preemie twins (not 27 months old) and we are going through the same battle at bedtime. Because of their severe reflux as babies, we got into the havbit of holding them after their bottle, at night, until they went to sleep. I know myself and I know there's no way I could let them "cry it out". So, here's what we've been doing.

We started by taking them up to their room, saying goodnight, giving them their bottle and laying them down. Hubby and I stayed in the room with them and laid on the floor. The first night it took 3 hours for them to go to sleep. It's taken 2 months but we're at the point now where we alternate nights and one of us takes them to bed while the other gets a "night off". They are usually asleep in under 30 minutes.

We also had TERRIBLE trouble with them waking up at night. Little Miss Thing would wake sometimes every hour and woulnd't go back to sleep unless I held her. Once I got her over it Little Man started the same tricks but Hubby got him into the habit of coming to bed with us.

Putting them to bed in their cribs and letting them fall asleep has almost eliminated our half awake trips across the hall to get the kids back to sleep. It went from 5 or more times a night to maybe once a week now.

I do think you make a good point, though, about Jozey maybe needing more Mom time. I know there's never enough hours in the day but maybe you and your husband could do something like alternate days with each child, giving them an hour, or even 30 minutes, of your undivided attention. For example, one day your husband can spend some time just with Max while you're with Jozey. Then, the next day, switch who is with which child. May not be feasible, since I don't know your whole living situation, but might be worth a try if you can do it.

June Cleaver said...

" Im the mom to 28 week preemie twins (not 27 months old) and we are going through the same battle at bedtime. "

Great first impression LOL. Should have said "now 27 months old".

Special Survivors said...

Dear June,

Thank you for your suggestions. Jozey is starting to sleep better at night, thankfully. I think she was having a rough time because she was on the verge of another developmental milestone (she recently started walking!). Since she started taking a few tentative steps, she's been sleeping much better at night.

I've also been trying to give her more attention during the day, holding her more, giving her more physical contact, so that she isn't craving it as much in the middle of the night.

I hope your twins are doing well. Take good care,

Anonymous said...

I am a Korean-American mother, living in Los Angeles, of a 16 month old girl, Sophia. I have been reading through all of your entries and I have found myself luaghing, smiling and's been an emotional night for me because I can totally relate to you and what you and your children have been going through. I don't have any other children but my husband and I do plan to soon. Ou daughter has been receiving services (PT, OT, IS, ST, and FT). It has been a tough year trying to schedule each day and get all of the naps/feedings in so we can get to all of our appointments on time. It's been tough but I cannot imagine it any other way...both literally and figuratively...she brings me so much joy and she always makes me laugh...but on the other hand I really don't know what it would be like to have a "normal" life...I can't imagine not having a different specialist to meet with every other week and 10 different therapy sessions during the week.

I could go and on and I'm so sorry for rambling...I just realized that the purpose of my post was to reply to your posting about the sleep issues. I got so carried away, this is the first time I've really spoken about what it has been like this past year and I guess I just rambled.

So, my daughter Sophia had sleeping issues and didn't sleep through the night until 1 month ago. We tried letting her cry it out and it really didn't help...I gave up and I would end up trying to rock her back to sleep...sometimes taking up to 2-3 hours. My husband found a program called the Sleepeasy solution ( I honestly did not think that it would work but after 4 days our daughter slept for 11 hours. She had usually only slept for 4-5 hours at a time. She learned to soothe herself back to sleep and it puts you as parents a little bit more at ease knowing that you are right there with them. Hopefully you'll be able to get more rest so that you have the needed energy for the new day! Good luck!

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