We had a hard time for the first 6 weeks getting Zoe on a good sleep schedule. But once we got it, the next 2-3 months were great. But, really, ever since month 3 or so, sleep has not gone well. People say, "Oh it's just a phase," but it's been going bad longer than it's been going well, with only select days that are an improvement, so I think we just have a poor sleeper (and apparently poor parent helpers).
Going down for bed at night is just about the only thing we do well. We have a nice routine starting at 6:30 that takes us to her bedtime at 7:30 that works great: eat and nurse, go on a walk or take a bath, read a story and then go to bed. We used to have SOBBING at night after we put her down and more often than not we would repeatedly need to go to her to calm her down until she finally went to sleep. Now she goes down calmly, we can hear her play for a little bit, and then she's usually actually asleep by about 7:45 or so. Once a week she has trouble and takes some tending to, but generally speaking, she's great going to bed at night.
That's where the sleep greatness ends
Everything else is pretty much a mess. And things we've tried so far haven't worked.
There are two big problems: she wakes up ALL THE TIME at night and she only sleeps for 30 minutes during the day. There are select times she sleeps for longer, but seriously, 90% of her naps are for 25-35 minutes. And usually just about the second the clock hits 30 minutes - she bounces up. Sometimes she still seems tired and cranky and I try to let her cry it out or figure it out on her own in hopes that she'll fall back asleep, but that has never worked. Sometimes I'll go in and try to coach her back to sleep, but that works MAYBE once a week. As a result she takes 3 naps a day. Usually by this time most babies are on two naps a day, but both of those naps are supposed tp last 1-2hrs and there has pretty much NEVER been a day that that has happened for Zoe. Despite our trying.
Chris and I have started to be more strict about nap time: one at 10 and one at 3. Our hope is that we can help her figure out how to condense them and that maybe she will sleep for longer each time. She usually has a catnap somewhere around 12, but we're trying to really stick to that.
Then there's the disaster of actually GETTING her to sleep for her nap because she fucking hates them. She is great at falling asleep while holding her, while in her carrier or in the car - but I will not be held a slave to her and only let her sleep those 3 ways. She needs to learn how to sleep on her own. But she hates the crib. Oy vey. THE SECOND we would hold her over it to set her down she would start wailing. A friend of mine's son hated his crib too, so she took it apart, put a mattress on the floor and he loved it. He would crawl around and play and then crawl up on his bed when he got tired. When he woke up, he'd crawl off and play again. (This was also suggested to me by a childhood friend). So far we've had the mattress on the floor for a couple of days and it hasn't worked great :( She'll crawl around and play on her own for about 5 minutes, and then she figures out that she's on her own and she just starts bawling and literally sits right in front of the door waiting for someone to get her while she sobs
Then there's the question: do you let them cry it out?
Well, we're 8 months into her life and I feel like at this point she knows we love her and that we're here for her, so maybe we should let her cry it out. We've tried that for several weeks and that does NOTHING. A couple times she's fallen asleep after 10 minutes, but usually it's more like 30 and sometimes even an hour. Yes, an hour of crying after 2 weeks. It's miserable. And I just feel awful.
The only way she falls asleep during the day is if we're laying right next to her letting her hold our hands. So I thought getting a lovey might work. We bought one that had a bajillion awesome reviews on Amazon. I held it between us while we nursed for 2 weeks. She loves to hold my hand while I nurse her, so I would put it over my hand so that she could hold it and my hand at the same time to get used to it. Well, the little stinker hunted around till she could feel my hand without the lovey, and then hold my bare hand. She has no interest one bit in the lovey. Or anything soft and fluffy. Any stuffed animal like item that people have gotten her she could care less about.
Or the smell of lavender. As that was another suggestion
So everyday I end up going in there and coaching her to sleep. She's so fucking exhausted from sobbing by the time that I get in there that she falls asleep in about 1 minute with some hand holding (literally holding my hand), but it's hard that she can't get herself to sleep on her own better and that she hates it so much (yet she's fine with it at night). What's harder is that she just wakes up so soon afterwards when she still seems tired and can NEVER go back to sleep.
It's just so confusing to me that she doesn't seem to have the problem at night, but during the day she just absolutely does not seem to want to sleep on her own at all. If I'm out running errands with her she'll fall right asleep in the car (she takes longer in the carrier because she likes to look at everything), but again, there's no way I'm doing that for every nap, every day
Then there's the night time sleeping adventures of waking up all the time and still nursing twice a night. Sigh.
I was trying to wean her from night feeding about 2 weeks ago by dropping one minute from each nighttime feeding every couple of days. But that went out the window when I was falling asleep while feeding her at night because I was fucking exhausted.
But she wakes up alllll the time. We used to track it in a spreadsheet we made (to see if the amount of time we were holding her, how much activity she had in a day or how much she ate made a difference in her sleep pattern - it didn't), but sometimes she would wake up 6-9 times a night. No exaggeration. Now she's down to about 3-4 on average, but it's still miserable. Especially when she wakes up and won't go back to bed for 60-90 minutes which is guaranteed to happen at least once a week. Those nights are awful. And we've had 2 in a row - Wednesday she was up for 85 minutes around the 2 o'clock hour and last night she was up literally every 20-40 minutes from 11:30-3 (we were in bed by 10:30), then she sobbed or wanted to play from 3-4 even after I fed her to go to sleep. Chris literally had to hold her down because she was sobbing and flailing around so much. I hate feeding her to get her to go back to sleep because I know at this age she doesn't need to eat every 3 hours at night like she wants to and I don't want to set up an awful habit of her needing to nurse to go back to bed. But eventually when Chris and I have been up for 75 minutes with her at 2 in the morning, that's usually what happens
If it wasn't for my mom who is babysitting her a lot this month and the babysitter we have who comes on Wednesdays (who we LOVE), I seriously don't know what I would do with myself because my exhaustion level is reaching manic proportions. (And napping during the day has always been really hard for me - it takes me a while to fall asleep and I'm sure by the time I actually fell asleep, Zoe would just be waking up, resulting in an even crankier mama).
There is good news though: Zoe is a VERY happy baby
Really, besides the awful sleep I have no complaints. Sure, she is very active and wants to go out and about all the time and has more energy than I do - but that's actually pretty fun. If I was getting more sleep I could keep up with her better. She loves to hang around me and Chris and play, play, play. I love her more than anything and she just brightens my day every single day. But I would also be lying if sometimes she didn't get on my last nerve with the difficulty she has going to sleep, and the apparent difficulty I have helping her do so.
Here's her rough schedule: she wakes up usually between 7-7:30. She gets naturally tired around 9:30-10:30 (we're trying the strict nap at 10). Then she usually wants a catnap around 12:30. Her next natural tired point is 3-4 (we're trying the strict nap at 3). And then it's starting her nighttime routine at 6:30 and bedtime at 7:30.
These are all the things we've tried for nap time:
- Letting her sleep when she's tired - which she seems to do anyways, but this was a lose idea of her nap schedule to see if it would help if we just let her sleep whenever.
- Carrying her to get to bed, then transferring - never works. The SECOND she can feel that you're not holding her, she wakes up and goes back to sleep
- 2-3-4 napping schedule - this wouldn't work for her because she naps for so little it would literally put her bedtime at 5:30, and there's no way she'll sleep for the night then
- A lovey - not interested at all when it smells like momma (first try) or lavender (second try)
- Nap time in the crib - OMG hated the crib
- Nap time with the mattress on the ground - still working on that one, but not looking good
- Nap time on our bed where she sleeps at night - this one might give her a longer nap every once in a while, but not anything near consistently, and I want her to be able to move to her own room eventually, so I don't want to do that all the time
- White noise - we do this for her at night, and I know it helps getting her to sleep because she can't hear us, but I honestly think it makes no difference after, and certainly makes no difference at nap time
- Dark room - shades up, shades down - no difference
- Crying it out - disaster
- Nursing to sleep - it gets her to sleep most times, but has no influence on how long she sleeps, and it's a habit I really don't want to start
- Strict nap schedule - we're on this now, but it doesn't seem to work
- Tiring her out with playing - letting her crawl all around all day long and explore certainly makes her tired, but it doesn't have an influence on how well she sleeps consistently
- Tiring her out going out and about - we thought all the stimulus might help to tire her out, nope. Nada
- Wearing her a lot - this seemed to help when she was very little, but it doesn't work anymore
- Taking it easy - not doing much during the seems to work in the opposite direction and she has a cabin fever freak out anywhere from 3pm on
- Making sure she's got a full belly before - we do this with sleeping at night too, but it doesn't work. Letting her graze for 2 hours before, nursing her before, giving her a full meal before - nothing has an influence
- Us nap with her - that will get her to sleep longer, but a lot of times I just can't do it because I can't nap well during the day (rest assured today I'll be doing it though because I'm a fucking walking zombie)
- Tylenol or Orajel when she's teething (also used at night) - that seems to help sometimes, but I also can't tell if she's just sobbing because she doesn't want to nap, or she's actually in teething pain