Sleep Deprivation

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.”

cryinginfant.jpgBoth of our wonderful children were colicky babies. Colic is a condition in which kids cry a lot. A whole lot. Almost all the time. For no reason that you can figure out.

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.

cryingbabymom.jpgA non-colicky baby sleeps 14-plus hours a day. Josie slept maybe 6 or 7. That included everything–bedtime plus naps–over 24 hours. The rest of the time she was up, and much of that was crying.

The crying really, really bothered Margi. The lack of sleep really really bothered me.

livingdead.jpgI 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.

healthy-sleeep.jpgAn 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.

cryingbabycartoon.jpg How to avoid the “over-tired state”? Simple. After she gets up in the morning, put her down for her first nap ONE HOUR LATER. Can’t work, right? She’ll never go to sleep, right?

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.hospnursery.jpg

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!


4 thoughts on “Sleep Deprivation

  1. Beautifully recalled. We’ve been blessed by the Ezzo’s books, but even at that #2 is just reaching the 8+ hr mark at 12 weeks — #1 was there at 7 weeks. It’s a good reminder that (A) every baby is different and (B) we don’t know everything about these kids.

    I’m just grateful that God blesses us with their immediate care for a couple decades!

  2. We too have been blessed by the Babywise books. We have 2 kidlets so far, a boy (4) and a girl (20 mo). Both were sleeping through by 8 weeks old and constantly get comments on their pleasant and alert behavior.

    I’m glad you were able to find a solution, however it seems odd that the Ezzo books didn’t work for you being that most the time between feedings is sleep time and not much wake time. Anywho, my husband and I developed a word when our son (at 2 mo old) would get over-tired…we called it ‘over-stimlified’. You could see it in his eyes when he would get too much visual stimulation or would be up longer than usual because of a visitor.

    My mother always tells us that we are such high conformists when I enforce naptimes with little flexibility. But she’s not there to hear the crying when the kids are over-tired…she only comments on how the kids are so pleasant to be around when they stay true to thier schedule.

    Thanks for the great blog!
    **my first comment had the wrong blog link, sorry** the actual is the balance blog

  3. Hi! I just stumbled across your blog. Thanks for your story! I just did a lot of research on Babywise and have been utterly amazed at its lack of medical support. Of course it will work for some, but doesn’t everything? At any rate, we read and followed Weissbluth’s book and what a God-send it was! I’m so happy for you that things turned around. Please feel free to visit a new site that my Christian girlfriends and I started a few months ago — God bless!

  4. Hi, We noticed that you referenced Dr. Marc Weissbluth. We wanted to let you know that we started a blog: . If you and/or the people reading your blog are interested in learning more about Dr. Weissbluth, than you should check us out or link up to us. We will not only be talking about sleep but will be addressing media, temperament, and other issues affecting children.
    -Daniel Weissbluth, MD

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