Friday, 6 March 2015

Reluctant Bed Sharing

On Christmas Eve, Paloma started waking up every few hours during the night. We joked that she was excited because she knew Santa was coming. Then she woke frequently the next night. And the next night. And a week went by and then a month. She was teething and learning new things and we decided to just wait it out. She had always slept through the night (thanks to my BFF in early parenthood - Le Pause) so surely she would sleep through the night again. Except she didn't. We continued to Le Pause her, but her mild complaints in the middle of the night turned into full on crying instead of tapering off into silence as they always did before. We tried many things to get her back to sleep. When Le Pause didn't work anymore, we tried running into her room and putting a hand on her belly as soon as we heard a peep before she really woke up. That worked for a few nights. In the beginning, she let Andino soothe her, so he took the early night shift and put her back to sleep the first time she woke up so I could have some consecutive hours of sleep. But now she only wants Mom.

Once she stopped letting Andino soothe her back to sleep, I was on 100% night time duty. I was getting up pretty much every 2 hours and stumbling red-eyed into her room. I usually nursed her back to sleep, because that was fastest and easiest way. If I rocked her back to sleep, I had to stand up to do it (she wouldn't fall asleep from rocking in the rocking chair of course) and I was so tired, I didn't want to stand. Plus she's over 20 pounds and when she resists being rocked because she wants to nurse, it's not easy or fun wrangling a crying, heavy baby at 2 in the morning. Plus, I always worried that she may actually be hungry since she often refuses solids, especially when teething. So I'd sit in my rocking chair and nurse her back to sleep while I read your blogs on my phone...but since a lot of my blogging friends are busy Moms now, there aren't as many updates to read as there used to be, so sometimes I played solitaire. She'd fall back asleep in 10-15 minutes, I'd lay her in her crib and go back to my bed. Sometimes I'd put her down too soon and she'd cry 2 minutes after I laid down. Sometimes she'd stay asleep, but then I was wide awake and it would take me a while to drift back to sleep again. I often felt like I'd only been asleep for an hour when she'd wake up again and the whole routine would be repeated. Night. After. Night.

I soon realized that part of the problem was that the bright light from my phone was causing me to fully wake up. I turned down the brightness as low as it would go but that didn't help. I didn't want to use my phone at night anymore, but I also didn't want to sit in the rocking chair in her room for 15 minutes or more staring out into the darkness. So, I started bringing her into my bed. Problem solved right? I could nurse her back to sleep the minute she woke up and keep my eyes closed while doing it. Except (of course) this didn't work either. Paloma loves to play with her Dad. As soon as she sees him come home from work, she kicks her legs and waves her arms in excitement. The same thing was happening all through the night when she'd wake in my bed and see him. She'd get excited and start smacking his face, trying to wake him up so he could play with her. I was not amused. I was still not sleeping.

I didn't know what to do. I was so tired and cranky I started picking fights with Andino every day. I was so tired during playdates in the afternoon I couldn't even keep the conversation going with my friends. I started drinking an extra couple cups of tea during the day, just to make it through. I considered night weaning. I considered sleep training. I researched and researched and researched. Then I went home to visit my family on the east coast for 10 days. I was so excited for a break from the routine and to have help from my parents with Paloma. I imagined being able to take long hot baths while Paloma spent quality time with her grandparents. That didn't happen. She was totally freaked out in my parents house and by the change in her routine, she didn't let me out of her sight at all. Not even to use the bathroom. When I took a shower, she scream-cried the whole time.  This was the first appearance of major separation anxiety. (Side note: 8 months is not the ideal time to travel with baby. The actual travel part was easier than when we flew at 10 weeks and 5 months, but the being away was a lot harder.) She wouldn't nap in the playpen my parents had set up for her, so she slept in my bed. I was always worried she'd fall off the bed, so I sat there while she slept for every nap. She slept beside me all night. Without her Dad there to distract her, she slept. I slept. She still woke up through the night, but only briefly. I caught up on my sleep and felt like myself again.

Then we came home and I don't know if I couldn't get her back in her crib, or if I was so happy with the sleep I was getting while bed sharing that I didn't want to fight to get her to sleep alone anymore. So we continued to bed share. But Andino couldn't join us because then she wouldn't sleep. So he's on the couch. And I hate that, because I really love cuddling with him at night. I never thought I'd be a bed sharing Mama, even for all my hippy parenting ways. I don't know why, but it's just not my cup of tea. But we chose these sleeping arrangements for the time-being because we are all (more or less) sleeping through the night this way. And a well-rested family is a good thing,

It's been a couple weeks of reluctant bed sharing and I'm starting to transition her back to her crib. I make sure that she takes at least 1 nap in her crib every day and I encourage her to sleep there for at least the beginning part of the night so she doesn't lose the ability to sleep there entirely. We've decided to do whatever it takes for another few months until she's talking and/or old enough to understand when we communicate to her why she should sleep in her crib and that we'll be right down the hall etc. That's what my sister-in-law did with my niece and it worked well for her, even though there were tears involved sometimes, at least she knew her daughter understood what was going on. Paloma is so young and going through separation anxiety big time right now, so we don't feel like now is the right time to force her to sleep alone.

One thing that has worked for us to get her sleeping better, which seems really counter-intuitive, but I decided to try it anyway after my Mom suggested it because at this point I'm willing to try anything, is when she wakes up in the middle of the night, I really get up with her. I take her out of her room and let her blow off some steam sitting on the living room with her toys. I don't make it exciting and enthusiastic, I don't turn the lights on. I actually don't even say anything. After 10 minutes or so, I put her to sleep again and she sleeps for a longer stretch than when I put her back to sleep the minute she wakes up. I don't always do this, but whenever I have, it's worked. Who knows why...

I'm hopeful that I will be able to blog more regularly, now that I'm not so sleep deprived. I thought I could make a point to write on Thursdays. I even made up a name for my Thursday posts - I was going to call them Thursday Thoughts. I don't know how well that will go though, seeing as how today is Friday and I'm just now getting this post up. This post turned out to be really long. Sorry about that! Hopefully next time I write I will be more concise. And because you read to the end of this post, I will reward you with  photos of my little sweetie:

Gypsy Baby

Kisses for Lola


  1. I'm glad that you are finally getting some sleep, although having Andino on the couch is definitely not ideal. Hopefully you guys can get Palmona back into her crib and sleeping through the night soon! I look forward to reading more of your posts though. :-)

  2. Wow, although I am sorry you, too, and going through this, I am so glad to read about someone else being in the same situation as we are. Hubby has been sleeping on the couch as well, for the same reasons. Baby boy has been the WORST teether, ever. We are down to the very last molar working its way in. But it is the molar that first showed swollen bruised gums nearly 4 months ago and it just won't break through. I keep saying as soon as he is done teething I will work on it, but for now nursing him is the only thing that helps soothe him fast enough to get him back to sleep fairly quickly. So I feel your pain. And it has got to get better!

  3. First of all - she is so cute. :)

    I totalllllllllly feel you on this post! I was so smug when Molly transitioned seamlessly from the bassinet by my bed to her crib. I thought i was just going to have it easy - nope, not so much! Right around 4 months (of course), she started waking up multiple times per night, and I got so sick of getting up 300 times a night that eventually we just started co-sleeping. Eric is very opposed to it because she keeps him up with tossing/turning/kicking, so we fight about it, but what am I supposed to do? I'm working full time too. It's not fair that he wants me to be sleep deprived just so he can get a better night's rest.

    And we have a queen sized bed, plus one of the dogs sleeps in the bed, so it's CROWDED. This is awful to admit, but I personally love the nights he falls asleep on the couch and it's just me, Molly, and the puppy in bed. Then at least I can stretch out a little and not feel like I'm falling off the edge!

    Sorry, no words of advice, just know that I'm going through the same thing, so I feel your pain. Recently I've been making more of an effort to keep her in her room so I nurse her to sleep in bed then put her back in the crib at least twice out of the four or more times she wakes up. I'm just hoping/praying it's a phase and it won't last much longer!

  4. Look at those chunky legs!! Oh Erin, She's adorable! Imports keep is so difficult for you all these days. I'm glad you guys are figuring it out. Hopefully she'll be back to STTN for you soon!

  5. I hear you on this one! We've been doing a similar thing with Rylee for a long time now, only I'm the one on the couch with her or in our twin bed that we finally have set up! She goes to sleep okay in her crib, but almost every single night she wakes up at some point. It's so much easier for me to just sleep with her than wait for her to go back to sleep! This way, we all get sleep. I really liked hearing you say you'll continue this plan until she can understand why it's important to sleep in her own bed. That's pretty much exactly what I've been thinking, only you put it into words!

  6. Baby sleep is mysterious, I don't care what experts say! I think I was my craziest with sleep deprivation for months, and not to mention hormones from breastfeeding! I think it all works out okay in the end. At the time I felt like a newly reformed alcoholic, who would try anything for just one little drop of sleep!

    As far as the reading on the phone goes you might want to download a blue light filter. Blue light suppresses melatonin production. I'm not sure if it'll help when you're woken up a lot through the night but who knows, it might help.
    PS Super cute baby pics! Yes I read to the end. ;)

  7. Ugh, I am so sorry to hear about all the trouble!! I don't blame you for doing whatever it takes! I hope that she transitions back to the crib well and that Andino gets off the couch!!

  8. when I was born, my mother had a good friend who encouraged co-sleeping as many animals sleep with their young. It seems very instinctive

  9. wow, so much can change in a few months! I'm glad you are getting some sleep again although it has been a battle.

  10. The sleep situation is tricky. Hazy started in our bed and there's no way we'd get any sleep if we tried to get her to sleep in her crib. I try maybe once or twice a week to put her in her crib for a nap and she wakes up completely panicked and hysterical because she's alone. I really have no advice because I think it's just a developmental thing they have to reach on their own and I don't believe in crying it out. I just wish we had a king sized bed!! Paloma is so freakin cute! I squealed when I say you both wearing head wraps! I love it!!!!

  11. I'm so nervous about all of the sleep issues I'm about to have...I just keep wishing I could save up all my sleep now and use it later! I think you just have to do whatever you need to do so that you're a functional human being at some point!

  12. My daughter has only slept through the night once in her life-- on her 1st birthday!!! She slept in a cosleeper until 4-5 months, at which point I tried to transition to her crib in our room. She woke up so often and nursed in the night that we started bed sharing. Eventually I stopped trying to put her in the crib and she's been in our bed for all naps & night time since 7 months or so.
    We use a bed rail on one side and have the crib attached (side-car) to the bed on my side, and we put our boxspring & mattress directly on the floor. I intended for her to sleep in the crib attached to our bed, but she sleeps between us instead! We use a video monitor and I have to watch it closely because she immediately sits up & starts crawling when she wakes up! However... I like sleeping with her. She generally wakes up twice a night and wants to nurse. Usually she goes right back to sleep, though when sick or teething (like now) she'll be up for an hour at a time and it's HARD. She might sleep better without my husband there but we've never tried it.
    Maybe it's because I'm used to it, but I can't imagine putting her to sleep in her own room yet. Almost everyone else I know does it, but I don't even plan to try to move her again until she's ready for a toddler bed (or single bed)-- maybe around 18 months.
    Enough about me... just wanted you to know you're not alone. I love bedsharing and think it's great (for older babies), but only if YOU want to.
    I hope things work out soon-- they go through so many phases. Maybe she'll be ready to transition again soon.

  13. We adopted our daughter at a year and 3 weeks. In the middle of the night she would do what we called her "parent check" and we'd be so sleep deprived we'd just bring her into bed with us. When my husband left us sleeping in the morning he'd put his pillows lengthwise where he was so she didn't roll over.

    I miss having my own bed but I love the sleep. I hope things work so that your sweetie can get back into bed with you.

  14. Curious where you are at now? This is SO similar to our experience. Right around 7-8 months or so, I was up SO much at night that I just felt like crying or screaming at everyone during the day. ALL he wanted at night was to nurse, so that meant ALL he wanted was me. I wanted to die. It was worse than Newborn stage, because everyone expects that, by then, you're sleeping. So, we ended up co-sleeping. We always have (and still do) push for him to start the night in his crib, so we would have some "adult-time" and then he would come in our bed when he woke up. It worked well until little after a year. Then I got sick of night nursing. After night weaning, he started staying in his crib longer and now sometimes stays in his own crib until 5:30 then come sleeps with us for a few more hours. That's pretty good to me!

    Anyhow, keep us posted! Hope you find something that works for you!


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