Monday, September 15, 2014

My Babies Don't Sleep

6 1/2 month old Brielle is really not sleeping well. She's crawling, pulling herself up to standing while holding on to something, saying "dadadadada", but not sleeping. I don't know what my problem is, but my babies just never sleep well. Elianna was a horrible sleeper until she was probably 2 1/2 or 3 years old. Nathanael was a horrible sleeper until he turned a year old (when I quit nursing, he went from being up 3 or 4 times a night to sleeping 12 hours straight almost immediately). Brielle is least 5 times a night (as in 5 times within 8 hours). I put her to bed (or Craig puts her to bed) around 8 pm. She will sleep for approximately one hour and then at 9 pm, the crying fits start. I mean, she cries pretty much non-stop for 5 hours unless she's being snuggled or nursed if it's been awhile, although that doesn't even always help. My gut tells me that nursing-to-sleep/co-sleep thing that we were doing for awhile is a major part of the problem. My gut also tells me that she is having stomach-aches (as she can be very gassy), though I have not found the cause of that. Now, though, we try very hard to not do the nurse-to-sleep thing, but the sleep problem has not ended. She will sleep for 20 minutes up to an hour sporatically within those 5 hours. But from 9 pm until 2 or 3 a.m., it's pretty much impossible for me to sleep as it takes me at least 20 minutes to get to sleep and by that time her next crying fit has started. And no, I don't race in at the first cry, either. I have read every book out there to do with sleeping issues. I've tried cry-it-out, I've tried EASY, I've tried babywise, baby whisperer, pat and shush, gas drops, gripe water, giving a bottle. You name it...I've TRIED IT ALL!  Finally, at 2 or 3 am., she settles down a little bit and might sleep for 2-3 hours in a row if I'm very lucky. This stretch often happens with her sleeping not-so-soundly with me on the couch. This is the only way I've been able to get any sleep whatsoever.This happens Every.single.night. Her best night was probably when she was about 3 weeks old and slept for 4 hours in a row once or twice  No, I'm not exaggerating. Yes, I'm barely surviving. I have a 2 year old and almost-5 year old to chase around all-day. Honestly, the last 6 months have been pretty brutal, and I am tired...bone-tired. My house is an absolute disaster.  I would do just about anything for 3 hours of uninterrupted night-time sleep. Just.about.anything. Don't even talk to me about something crazy like 5, 6, or 7 hours in a row...

Our extended family has been a real blessing to us and has taken the older two kids for a few days here and there.They have baby-sat for me when I have had several appointments lately (I've had to go to the dentist 4 times, chiropractor 2 times, doctor once, and massage therapist once in the last month for myself along with dentist for my kids, immunizations, and doctor appointments for my kids).  My sister is amazing and comes and washes my dishes for me and helps me put the kids to bed. I can't imagine how I'd be coping without them! This, along with a pretty hefty dose of "life" stress that has been hounding us down lately, is the reason why this blog is on the back-burner. Very recently, I was flat out in bed for almost a week with an incredibly sore back. Driving down the road to go to the doctor had me pulled over with tears streaming down my face. The pain was similar to labour-pain. That's the only way I can describe it. I am SO thankful that I went to the chiropractor, who told me it was actually my pelvis that was out of place and he fixed my problem! I was a bit of a skeptic that the chiropractor does much good (don't hate me for that!), but now I'm on-board as he gave me almost immediate relief! I was shocked at the difference. It lasted 4 days and then went out again, but I went back and have been good now for another few days. Yes, I still have the "normal" back aches/muscle aches, but the excrutiating, debilitating pain that I was experiencing (I couldn't even sit at church) is gone. Praise the Lord! That was a big answer to prayer.

Any "spare" minute I have is used to either eat (which, like yesterday, meant scarfing down a few cheesies and an apple at 8 pm (I forgot to eat my own supper as I was feeding Brielle), shower (which doesn't happen as often as it probably should), or sleeping/veging-out. There is no time (and if there is ever "time", there is rarely the energy) for cleaning, exercise, hobbies, or the like. Play-dates, mom's groups, this point, I don't even have the energy for that. This is survival-mode at its finest (or worst). If you want to still be my friend after seeing me in this mess I'm in, physically and mentally, well, you are just too sweet. I know this post sounds far too whiny and complaining-like. I truly hesistated to even write it as I'd much prefer to write something edifying and encouraging. I really, really, really would like to say that thing are going "really well." But, truthfully, they aren't. I am not ungrateful for the many blessings I have and have found that focusing on those things helps keep my heart in the right place. Spiritually, I am doing "ok". God has seemed distant lately, but I know better than to depend on my feelings because by faith and through His Word I know He is near, cares for me, and loves me even though I don't always "feel" it. However, I feel like it's important for me to write this just so people can maybe understand why I have had to say "no" to so many things lately. All this stress and exhaustion is why we went to our parents' church in town yesterday instead of to our dear home-church (which is a drive out of town). It is not going to be this way forever. This is only a season. I am not depressed, though. I can find joy and laugh and smile during moments. I am just incredibly, insanely stressed-out and exhausted mentally and physically. I couldn't even remember my phone number when the chiropractor's clinic asked me.

On the homeschool front, we continue to focus on phonics and reading. My husband and I are discussing the possibility of not yet ordering our planned curriculum for this year and, instead, focusing on character training and reading/phonics. I found this Character First program here, which has enough free material to cover many character issues. We have plenty of kindergarten "workbooks" and a fantastic libary to supplement that. I have talked to lots of Christian homeschool veterans.You know what nearly all of them advise? Don't worry so much about the "curriculum" when they are so young and pushing curriculum. Focus on character, work ethic, Bible memorization, and read, read, read. I know our daughter picks up a lot from simply reading to her. We are pondering how to approach this all and figure out what works for us and where the Lord is leading. Both of us feel strongly the Lord pressing on our heart to invest more in building strong relationships with our kids and in biblical parenting/character training. Our most important task is to point our children to the cross and pray for their salvation, which does not come from homeschooling, following the right "curriculum" or even "character training" (though character is important) or Bible memorization but from the work of the Holy Spirit. 

Please don't get me wrong...we are not neglecting our children's education. We educate throughout the day in day-to-day life, are following a phonics program, and are just trying to figure out which way to go this year and what to "focus" on as she only just turned 5! She is young! Most kindergarten kids are going to school to learn the to follow the rules, respect authority, relate to others, communicate well, tie their shoes, act in an orderly fashion, follow routines, learn to share and play nicely, respect others, conflict resolution, how to cut, glue, colour nicely, create, draw, print, and basic phonics and math. We will cover all these and more...We are simply thinking of taking a less-traditional "curriculum" approach this year (or at least for the first half of the year) and focus more on character training and biblical principles.

There are plenty of professing Christians who know their Bible and know "good character traits" but are not truly saved. However, our job as Christian parents is to train up our children in the way they should go and teach them about the Lord and share and live out the gospel daily. Biblical principles and encouraging godly behaviour is important and plays a role in pointing our children to Jesus, but it will not save them! We cannot save our children...only the Lord can. (and because we will fail at godly character and producing the fruit of the Spirit without the Lord's help...this points us to the cross and shows that we are in utter dependence on Him as there is not one of us who is "good". It shows how desperately short we fall and how our only hope is that we can be forgiven our sins only through faith in Jesus and by His grace.)

Those are my scattered thoughts for today. Welcome to my sleep-deprived brain, which never seems to turn off...

 Coffee time...


Kristy said...

I know you have heard and tried everything but I have a few suggestions. I have 8 kids and most of them have slept fairly well. My last one is 4 months old and has been a challenge for me. She started only being happy when I was holding her. She would cry and cry and never give up but we have finally taught her to fall asleep without me. Most of my other kids would eventually give in and stop crying and fall asleep. The big difference with my last one is that she is sleeping in my room. None of my other kids slept in our room with us, once we moved her into her own room she slept better. I also like to do cluster feeding in the evening or I do it all day, I would feed her every two hours when I am awake, just to get enough feeds in.
Just a few ideas from my own experience. Don't worry about formal schooling with you daughter, it is amazing what they are learning just by being with you. It is amazing how they can catch up as they get older, when reading and writing is easier.
I hope things will get easier for, these are difficult times but they go so fast.

Jenna said...

Thanks for your suggestions! Despite my feeling like I've tried it all, I welcome and am more than grateful for any tips experienced mamas may have! Thanks :-)

Anonymous said...

I have the worst sleeper ever. Until 10 months he was up 15-20 times/night. He never slept more than 30 minutes. And he was formula fed.

Have you tried probiotics? This could help with any gut issues. Lavender oil on her feet before bed. Is it possible she is refluxing so laying down at night is making it worse? You could always try a couple tablespoons of thick cereal before bed to see if it help keeps the milk down and her more comfortable.
Also a white noise? Fan, or sound machine? This helps my boys so much. They're light sleepers and helps them stay asleep much better.
Good luck, just remember, this too shall pass!

Kara Braun said...

Oh Jenna, I will be praying for you. I think it's great that you write with such open honesty. It's so refreshing. We have to be real.
I cannot imagine how you are doing as well as you are. My blessing with Berkley is that she usually sleeps at least one long stretch at night - her bad nights are no where near like your nights. I struggle when I don't get enough sleep, so your ability to say that you are still smiling and laughing is good to hear. I lose my joy if I'm not careful.
I can kind of relate to "trying it all." We've used ovol drops, gripe water, tilting her mattress, a mamaroo, going for stroller walks/naps, read babywise, and read sleep sense. I've tried nursing her to sleep when she wakes up in the middle of the night, we've cuddled her to sleep, I've nursed her in bed to get her to fall asleep better again after... we're working on our newest attempt for healthy sleep habits right now; we'll see how it goes. We're going to try to be really consistent for a few weeks and see how it goes. I hear consistency is key? :p
But yes, all that is to say, I can relate in some ways and would love to pray for you. And be there for you if there's ever anything I can do. There is zero judgment coming from over here. The only reason my house isn't a complete disaster is because when I'm exhausted, stressed, and can't sleep, I stress binge-clean.
And as for your homeschooling plan, I think that sounds really good! Reading is the number 1 thing in my opinion - that's what opens the doors to all other learning. The kids who read are always the top of the class. They pick up so much!
Again - please, if there's anything I can ever do, don't hesitate to ask!
Lots of prayers,

Victoria, Oregon said...

I can relate. My girls are 5 and 6 1/2 now, and I get to sleep. But for a long time I felt bone tired and desperate for sleep. I probably was even depressed, too be honest. It can be very isolating. I'm glad your family is around to help out. The one piece of advice that "worked" (eventually) was to remember that it won't always be like this. Everything is just for a season. Even though I don't know you personally, I will pray for you. You are not a failure, or a bad friend, our any of the things I told myself I was. Again, thank you for your honesty. People need real, not fake. :-)

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