Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why doesn't she sleep?

Lila is almost 3. In the early days, the fact that she had colic or reflux or was just a baby was a good enough reason for me to get up 2 or 3 times a night and go to her room. After that subsided and she was about a year or so old, she was still using a bottle to fall asleep and she would wake me up 2 or 3 times a night to get me to find her (empty) bottle for her and stick it back in her mouth. At 2 1/2, I decided I didnt want to do it anymore so we concocted an elaborately detailed story about the "ba-ba fairy" who comes to big kids and takes their bottles and gives them to new babies in need. "Ba-ba fairy" would leave some awesome big-kid present when she came.

It worked out perfectly. The same weekend we bought Lila her toddler bed, my mom wanted to keep her overnight so the next morning when she came home we told her all her bottles were gone but we had a surprise in her room for her. She was thrilled with her big-girl bed and her princess sheet and comforter set. The first few nights she cried a little and I attempted to help by lying in (her tiny) bed with her. I told her that since she is a big girl now, when she wakes up at night, she can just get up and come into our room if she needs to.

That was almost 6 months ago. To date, Lila has yet to get out of bed and come to us. In fact, she still wakes up 2 or 3 times most nights and just cries and cries halfway between sleep and awake. She cries "mommmmmmmyyyyyy" and although I try to ignore her (and about once a week this works and she falls back to sleep) I often resort to calling to her. "Lila, come on into bed with us," I say in my groggy 3am voice. But she just cries harder until one of us gets up and goes to her. She doesn't even WANT to sleep in our bed. And she never needs anything. It isnt that she fell out of bed or lost her blanket or even wants her back rubbed. She just needs us to come in. I usually go in, lay on her floor, and tell her to go back to sleep. This is apparently enough for her. And after 15 minutes or so, I get up and go back to bed.

But this has serious side effects on my sanity. It has been almost three years since I have had a good nights sleep. Because even when Lila has a couple of weeks straight of sleeping through the night (it happens randomly and then just stops) I am still awake several times a night just out of habit.

I live on the second floor of a two-family house. Just underneath Lila's room sleeps a 1 year old baby. If she cries, he wakes up and everyone is pissed. Likewise, they dont let their kid cry at night after a few incidents where Lila woke up and I was a total bitch the next morning. Letting her scream for 3 hours isn't really an option.

Anyone have any suggestions?


  1. I can so completely relate! My daughter will be turning 5 in a few weeks, and she has always been a dreadful sleeper. For the first six months of her life, I never got more than four hours of uninterrupted sleep. Finally, when she was 2 or 3 and still sleeping poorly and having two-week periods, every six weeks, where she would start waking up five or six times a night and crying for Mom (not Dad, even though he's a night owl and was already awake - only Mom would do), I asked her doctor why she wasn't sleeping better. Her matter-of-fact answer? "Some kids don't reliably sleep through the night until they're school age." And I thought, WTF??? Nobody tells you that shit when you're pregnant, do they? None of those fucking mommy books tells you that. I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS SHIT! It has gotten better, but I have decided to stop at one. I just never want to be that tired again.

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  3. I would NEVER risk having a second kid. Everyone says "the next one will be the complete opposite" but there is no god damned way I would take that chance. Hell, every day I survive Lila is a miracle.

  4. This calls for some slow changing of what you do in response. Phase it out. Tonight is the last night you will lay on the floor where you usually do - next, a little closer to the door. Next night, a little closer. Keep moving away until you're not laying on the floor, you just come to speak to her from the door. Then from just outside the door. Then further down the hall. Eventually, you just respond from bed. Then you wait a bit longer to respond. Then should come the day when she stops trying.

    Do it gradually enough that she doesn't ping to a specific change.

  5. Ahhh, memories of my own daughter. She just turned six -- and until about six months ago, I hadn't had a full night's sleep in 5-1/2 years. She would regularly wake up in the middle of the night and cry on-and-off for up to two hours while my husband and I took turns going into her room to see what was wrong. We tried everything -- letting her cry, rubbing her back, giving her a snack and some water, letting her into our bed, getting angry and threatening to take something away the next day -- and NOTHING WORKED. In the end, she just simply grew out of it. It may be that Lila will do the same.

    On a more positive note, we (crazily) decided to have a second child even though our first was a holy terror (and my friends seriously thought I would never do it again) -- and he turned out to be the easiest, most wonderful baby ever. So you never know.

  6. As I said above, I would never risk the possibilty of having another...What he the next one didnt sleep for 5 years???? It hurts to think about!

  7. Okay. Some people might consider me mean. When my children were babies, even my current six month old, I'd wake them up to get all of their feedings in the daytime. Obviously, before 3 months, I had to get up with them, but at 3 months, they started sleeping through the night because they associated their bed with sleep. I also didn't make a lot of noise in nighttime feedings or changings. We established a routine early on. Bedtime story, bath, bed. It's changed a bit for the older one because he's excited to tell us about his day, but it works to have a routine. I did have to let them cry for a little bit, when they were younger, and when they were older, I took them back to their beds when they got up. It didn't take long for them to realize that when I said that it was bedtime, it was. At 3, I did explain to them that sleep was important, and that there was nothing to be afraid of. They learned how to soothe themselves and put themselves back to bed. It also helped for them to have something that "smelled" like me. Like one of my shirts on a teddy bear or something. I know, it's weird, but you can't argue with what worked. We didn't use night lights either, so that we could establish when it's nighttime, it's bedtime. When it's daytime, time to get up. Won't work for everyone, but if you haven't tried it might help.


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