I started this blog at 3:54 a.m. Dr. Laura says, “I am my kid’s mom.”
I say, “I am my kids’ sleep deprivation experiment.”
As an infant, Josie cried whenever we put her in a reclined position. Even slightly reclined. Think stroller, car seat, swing, or bed. Yes, bed. Infants are to be put into bed on their backs (drastically reduces SIDS). Josie screamed.
The crying really, really bothered Margi. The lack of sleep really really bothered me.
I became a walking zombie. I was going on about 1-3 hours of uninterruped sleep. We tried everything, including “the Ezzo” program (Babywise, which works for many people, I know. Not us.). We even had high-level Ezzo guidance. It didn’t work. She finally said, “I’ve never seen anything like this.” That after multiple hours of “letting her cry herself to sleep.” More like cry herself to “frenzy.”
Despair. We were exhausted. Discouraged. Depressed. And we were always on edge because we weren’t sleeping. Even rides in the car were a nightmare because she screamed the whole time. Nothing could soothe her.
I became her crib: on most nights, I held her on her tummy, on my chest and shoulder, and slept upright in a chair.
We were losing our minds. This went on for about 9 months. I even fell asleep in the middle of a conversation with a friend. Sitting up. Over coffee.
Then a miracle happened.
Yes, a miracle.
An anonymous person–an angel whose name we don’t know to this day–snuck a book into my office mailbox. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Marc Weissbluth. He’s a pediatric sleep disorders pediatrician.
I devoured the book in one afternoon. It contradicted EVERYTHING we were being told by moms and experts.
The next day we implemented it. Not a lot of hope, but worth a try.
Josie slept for 20 hours. On day two, 17 hours. Then she settled in at 16 hours of sleep per day. Better than doubling her sleep habits.
It saved our lives.
Thank you God. Thank you Marc Weissbluth. And thank you anonymous angel. Here’s Marc Weissbluth.
What was the secret you ask? Avoid the “over-tired state.” When babies get over-tired, they release adrenaline, especially colicky babies. This gives them a surge of energy just when they need sleep. Yikes!
So much for the advice: “Keep her up later so she’ll sleep all night.” It only made Josie way worse. Over-over-over-tired.
That’s what we thought, but we tried it.
And choirs of angels sang as Josie slept, and slept, and slept. In the course of that first day, 20 hours altogether. We were saved!
Over time we settled into a routine. We never let Josie stay up for more than two hours straight. Then it was nap time. We put her to sleep (nursed her to sleep) at the first sign of tiredness–rubbing her eyes, yawning, crabbiness.
Our crabby baby became sweet, and began sleeping more and more till she slept through the night.
Last night, as Josie suffered an ear ache, and I gave her some children’s Motrin, I flashed back to those miserable days of sleep-deprivation. That’s what I’m feeling today, but it was nothing like the old days. Thank you God for a good sleeper.
What about J.D.? I’ll put it this way: our kids were born 19 months apart in different states of the Union, and in different hospitals. In each hospital, Margi asked the nurses to keep the respective child for just “a couple of hours” so she could get to sleep.
In each case, the nurses came back about 20 minutes later, with child, and said, “We can’t comfort your baby. He/She needs mommy.”
Both of them. We’re far from perfect parents. But, Lord knows, this was not our fault!