Getting your Child to Sleep – You are NOT alone

OMG – I LOVE this story!

I am – almost – at the point I could sit outside the door, and not quite at the having to wait through the ‘sounding out’ phase (although we read FIVE books, one of them a chapter book chapter each night now).

I have, however, been through the wishing to just die, please let this child go to sleep episode over and over an over again since 2007. But there is light at the end of the tunnel – I am now sitting beside the bed, with my i-phone (in the dark), reminding her to calm down and go to sleep until she finally passes out.  Funny how that ‘forever’ can be as little as 15 and as much as 45 minutes long…

Also funny how this story does not make me depressed (there is way more yet to come), but rather relieved that others have this problem too.


No Rest for the Weary

DaddyN sent this article to me today:

Increased Risk of Death in Men With Insomnia and a Short Sleep Duration

Now this is important to us/him as he has always had insomnia problems and lately they have been so bad he’s had a sleep study done, and is on assistive medication, etc. The gist of this article is:

Compared to men without insomnia who slept for six hours or more, men with chronic insomnia who slept for less than six hours were four times more likely to die during the 14-year follow-up period.

*I*, however, noted the following statement in paragraph 2:

No significant mortality risk was found in women with insomnia and a short sleep duration of less than six hours.*

Why of COURSE NOT.  GUYS whose sleep is regularly interrupted and who can’t get back to sleep get the EASY out – they get the ULTIMATE REST BREAK.  While those of use who care for infants and children – who seem to be hardwired to wake up at every peep…do WE get a lucky break like that?! Nooooooo…

Sorry if I seem bitter….WST *IS* so getting better at sleep. I may get 2, 3, or even 4 uninterrupted nights of sleep per week now-a-days. But I admit to being pretty tired of being tired…

*At the end of the article they note that they followed up on women for 10.4 years on average as compared to 14 years for men, and that actually may have affected the results…

Cure for Insomnia

So, I’ve generally not had trouble getting to sleep in my life, but when I do, I have stuff I think about that helps me relax and go to sleep. [OK the 3 months after WCB was born don’t count – hormones were involved.]

When I was a kid, I used to think about each of the bedrooms in the house, and if I was sleeping in that bed, where would the door be? and what would be on the left? and what would be behind me? etc.  If I ran out of bedrooms in our house, I’d do my grandmother’s house, where at Thanksgiving we’d sleep folks in almost every room… I don’t think I ever stayed awake for all of her house. Something about the methodical-ness and the complexity of the thoughts seems to help me drift off.

When I was a teenager I used to think about…well, that was the hormonal period.  ‘Nuf said.

As an adult, one of my most common was “When I have a child, I will…” and the senarios I’d dream up would help me drop off.  Funny – this one doesn’t work any more.  It leads to fret and worry – NOT conducive to sleep. At least the hormonal anxiety is finally gone. Ick – I don’t like being ruled by my chemicals.

Recently I realized I have a new method for falling asleep.  I write blog posts in my head.  And fall asleep usually around the 2nd or third composition.  Somehow “writing” in my head about all the things that have happened to me and WCB (et al) relaxes me and sends me off (methodical and complex again!).  Funny how a lot of these late night posts never seem to make it to the blog…of course the 20 lb, zillion-mile-an-hour-whirlwind in the house might have something to do with sucking up all my time. 😉

Blogging as a cure for insomnia…I’m sure it has been done before.

The speed of change

MAN – what they don’t tell you is how just when you think you’ve got it, it is time to do the next step/thing.  As a matter of fact, the FACT that your child has gotten comfortable with something is the *sign* that you need to move on to something new.  Sigh.

So -WCB is finally sleeping “through the night” in her own crib*. Um, well, for the following definitions of “through the night” and “in her crib”:

  • WCB has learned to go to sleep in 5-15 mins after lights out, and can be transferred from mom’s arms to crib in about 45mins (although it is often an hour to 1.5 hrs later as I fall asleep at about the same time that WCB does and then OLM has to be wakened by Daddy-N to put WCB to bed).  
  • WCB sleeps completely through the night 1-2 times per week, has only one wake up 3-4 times per week and has multiple wakings per night only 1-2 times per week.  
  • Upon night waking, she can return to sleep in her crib with between 2-10 mins of pats and/or “hold my hand” 4 times out of 5, and needs to sleep a chunk of the night with an adult only maybe 1-2 times a week. 
  •  MOM spends 65-70% of her sleep time IN HER OWN BED, in chunks of 4-6 hours at a time – whoop!
  • Daddy-N has successfully taken several “Friday nights” with WCB to give mom a break (usually to pack, do bills, or be sick). And WCB is OK with this.

SO – can we celebrate? Noooooo – now we have to teach her to fall asleep in her own bed.  And to go through her bedtime routine/go to sleep with a Daddy (with no mommy at all). That’s September’s project.  And part of me asks – why?  What we have is working SO WELL!  And the answer is – because we are GOOD parents. We want her to develop independence, adaptability, and good sleep habits.  If we were bad parents, we’d only do what was convenient for US – not what was best for WCB (or at least a compromise between the two that allows us to stay sane).

Similarly, WCB has pretty much gotten used to stage 2 foods served to her 3 times a day.  She can eat easily dissolved crackers/cookies by herself.  She drinks ALL her formula bottles without much trauma (I wish I could tell the lady that was me back in Month #2 that this would EVER happen).  So now we have to give her chunkier foods and teach her to use a sippy cup [both of which changes she is resisting, of course].   She likes her food and formula tepid to warm – cold food is not food.  So we have to get her used to cold foods. She can’t move on to the Toddler room in daycare at age 1 unless she can feed herself fairly independently.  That’s about a month away – so MORE stuff to do in September….Sigh.

She’s walking like a trooper and investigating EVERYTHING – so now we have to get her used to shoes. And limits, and gates, and child-proofing of drawers and cupboards.  She can climb out of the big bathtub (smart girl!) so now we have to teach her the word NO!  Sigh.

Being a parent is hard.  And mean.  Being a toddler is hard. And stressful.  And there are no vacations. Change is constant, and FAST.

Good thing we love each other  🙂  Cuteness RULES!

*part of the yet-to-be-written “SLEEP SAGA.”  I’ll get there, I’ll get there – just let me get this room clean, and change this diaper, and pay this bill, and…

Heart-wrenching Guest Post

[Today we have a guest post from Uncle L on a topic about which he feels strongly.  I find this piece wonderfully written and am pleased to share it, especially if it saves even one life. ]

No more dead babies.

I have had the most hideous experience of my life, albeit second hand.

My wife is an emergency room nurse in a research/teaching hospital that has the only Level I Trauma Center within 150 miles. 

In case you’re not interested in reading the whole Wikipedia link, the staff at a Level I Trauma Center can make your steak dinner go “moo” again unless you ordered it well done.  It’s a point of pride that if you’re alive when you come in their door, odds are good you’re going to be alive when you go out of it.  They’re really, really good at what they do, and they have enormous resources to call upon.  They’ve got the machine that goes “ping.”  They’ve got the machine that goes “puh-whump.”  (Actually, they’ve got about eight of those.) They’ve got machines that go buzz, fwee, and even “wham.”  (That one sucks.)  And medicine.  Good Lord! They’ve got chemicals that can make you throw stuff up, or keep it down.  They can make you poop on demand or not poop for a week.  There’s stuff that can make a charging rhino take a nap right now or keep him awake until he gets bored.

What they cannot do, is raise the dead.

Not too terribly long ago, my wife and I went to a medieval re-enactment as part-time parents to a beautiful, charming four month old baby girl.  WCB was utterly delightful.  She laughed, she played, and she drooled on everything.  She charmed everybody she met and is clearly going to be a gorgeous genius when she grows up.  The good news is that WCB is still brilliant, gorgeous, delightful, and drooling on everything.  The bad news follows.

After ten days of bonding with healthy, active, brilliant, beautiful WCB, my wife went home to her job in the Emergency Department of a Level I Trauma Center.  I stayed at the re-enactment.  About thirty hours later, I checked my messages and discovered that my cell phone had gone berserk.  A half-dozen messages from the wife asking if WCB was ok.  I’d also had three missed voice calls.  Before I could check messages, the phone rang again.  It was the wife, and she was almost hysterical.  (Emergency Nurses are never hysterical.  This was bad.)

“Tell me the baby’s ok.”

“All right.  The baby’s ok.  She’s outside, with her mother, currently covering a blanket with drool.  What’s wrong?”

“We had a baby die today.”

It had been a normal shift with all of its normal crises.  College students with alcohol poisoning, chainsaws operated without adequate training or safety equipment, and, of course, jet-ski’s operated without helmets leading to unnecessary brain damage due to collision.  Then they got word that the ambulance crew was bringing in a four year old boy who was unresponsive and cyanotic.  The well-oiled machine sprang into action, and my wife’s team drew the patient.

When the doors from the ambulance bay flew open, it was clear that something was wrong.  The EMT’s looked grim.  And the bundle on the gurney was too small.  Somebody had made an error in translating the data somewhere. This child was not four years old, he was four months old.  Later checking of the records would reveal that he was exactly one day older than WCB.  He was beautiful, well-formed, and came from a loving family.  He’d clearly been well-nourished, well taken care of, and was developing normally.

But his mother had been breast-feeding for four months.  And the father was trying to give her a break. He had taken the infant for the afternoon and, in lying down for a nap, rolled over onto the baby in his sleep, and suffocated him.

The team did everything.  There was no thought of sparing expense or saving resources.  They poked, they prodded.  They medicated, they “pu-whumped” and they “pinged.”  Many of them are parents, and this is the ultimate nightmare.  It’s beyond imagining.

But he was just gone.  He’d been wrapped in a blanket, so he was still warm.  But he was gone.  And there was no bringing him back.

The Chief Resident had the hard job.  He had to go out into the family waiting area and tell the loving father that he had killed his child.  There was no way around it.  He couldn’t make the cause of death anything other than an accidental smothering.

My wife volunteered for the second hardest job.  She gave him his last bath.  She took all of the needles that had come too late out.  She washed off the adhesives that had failed to hold him to life, and dressed him back in his little onesie.  Then she wrapped him up.

Did you know that they don’t make body bags for infants?  Infants have to be cared for in the old way. With a winding sheet.  Some folks call them a shroud.   Her collegues were going to tie up the little bundle to keep the winding sheet from coming off, and the stress made her a little sharp with them.  “He’s a child, not a delivery package.”  She tucked the winding sheet in, and picked him in her own two hands.  No gurney.  No utility tray.  Her hands.  She tucked the paperwork in her pocked and walked him downstairs herself.

He was still warm.  She carried him on her shoulder, like his parents had that morning, and patted his little back down the elevator and all the way down that long, dimly lit corridor.   It’s very quiet down there.  No one goes there unless they work there, or have specific business there.  She stroked his head through the winding sheet and told him that everything was going to be ok.  She got the paperwork to the morgue technician, and gently placed him on the stainless steel drawer where last of the heat from his body would eventually bleed out.

I think that’s the only time my wife has ever lied to a child.  Because it’s not going to be okay.  Nothing is going to ever be ok again.  Somewhere there is a mother who is going to have to forgive her husband for killing her child if she is to keep her family together.  There is a father who will forever live with the fact that, accident or not, he made the choices that killed his child.  The doctor who was unable to report anything other than the truth: in an accidental smothering, a loving parent killed his baby boy.  The rest of the trauma team, who are not accustomed to losing the important fights, will live forever with their failure. 

That sounds harsh, doesn’t it?  I don’t think they failed, but they do.  Emergency Medical personnel are kind of funny.  They look like they are made of tungsten carbide, or spring steel.  When you go there, they are brisk and efficient.  They smile at you as they work.  They bring devices, supplies, and equipment and attach them to you with great confidence.  They tell you they’ve seen worse, and they probably have.  All of that is for the purpose of convincing you that they can fix anything.  Because if you believe you are going to be ok, you are far more likely to have a positive outcome than if you  think you aren’t going to make it.  Underneath that, they’re running.  They’re angry or scared, depending on the circumstances.  They may all be adrenaline addicts, but they could fill that with bungee-jumping or motocross racing if they wanted to. They chose this line of work because they want to help people.  And they have ended up where their day job is nothing less than hand-to-hand combat with the Angel of Death himself.  And they don’t like to lose.

And then there’s me, who has to hold a sad and angry lady in the night.  Please do not make my wife carry any more very, very small bundles down that long, dim hallway. 

Don’t co-sleep.

[Note #1: Just since March 2008, Auntie’s ER has had *another* accidental smothering by a loving, co-sleeping father. Another team drew that child – so she didn’t have to carry that one. But their opinions on co-sleeping with infants in the same bed as adults are cemented. ]

[Note #2:  At 9 months, WCB still often co-sleeps with her mom in the “little bed” for part of the night , and I am very clear on all the arguments/reasons for and against this practice. We are working VERY hard to cease doing so, in part because of Auntie and Uncle L’s experiences.  WCB has never co-slept in the big bed with either dad, however. And I think we’ve been very lucky.]