Saturday, January 15, 2011

Losing Sleep

I've said here many times before that child rearing is all about phases. Kids go in and out of phases all the time...and just when you've settled in comfortably or are at the end of your rope, things are bound to change. This is especially true when it comes to sleep. Jacob was fine for months after he started sleeping through the night, and then suddenly he was a mess. Whether it was teething, growth spurts, illnesses, or hitting milestones, I still have no idea. But from everything I hear, everyone seems to have the same trouble with their babies. We've definitely had our ups and downs since then. We'll have periods of rough sleep, periods of good sleep, and back and forth for weeks at a time. And just when we're totally exhausted, he'll start sleeping well again. But up until lately, Jacob had been sleeping rather well and we got spoiled. Of course, in the meantime we were pushing our own boundaries--staying up later than we should, keeping busy during the holidays--and probably not taking great advantage of the good sleep we could be getting. Lately we've both been tired...and then this week hit.

Jacob has been having some sleeping issues. Bedtime has been a challenge. Sometimes he goes to bed fine, but stays awake for a while...sometimes perfectly happy, sometimes screaming intermittently for water or one of us. Other nights he puts up a fight from the moment I close the door. He'll pull out every excuse in the book--water, a missing animal, wanting one of us, being scared of shadows, scared that the Burger King is coming to get him (yep, no idea), you name it. Eventually he falls asleep, but the other night I had to literally rock him to sleep after an hour of misery. Thursday night I got desperate and pulled out something special to help him relax. I had gotten a little desk light that looks like the alien from Toy Story for free from codes in cereal boxes. I kept it put away for a useful moment, and I decided that Jacob might benefit from the extra light and maybe an extra "protector" with three eyes. He liked it, and sure enough, he went right to sleep.

If the problems stopped at bedtime, that would be one thing. But no, the middle of the night has been even worse. He's waking up at all hours, sometimes multiple times a night or for hour-plus spans. This has been happening almost every night and it's been very hard on all of us. I'm exhausted, Craig's exhausted (hence part of his issues on Thursday that I mentioned in Friday's post), and even Jacob hasn't been himself. Hard to say if it's the sleep, but aside from some congestion, he seems to be recovered from last weekend's virus. Normally he wakes up and is either ready to hang out and play, or is absolutely miserable and apparently scared of something. Neither is an enjoyable scenario at 1am or 4am. Unlike in the previous months, it hasn't been an easy prospect to get him back to sleep. A back rub and some shushing isn't cutting it. Sometimes he wants to come to our bed, and sometimes he's completely incoherent. He won't tell us what's bothering him, whether he's in pain or is scared. And without that knowledge, how can we help him? I'll be the first to admit that I don't have patience for that in the middle of the night. It bothers me when he won't go back to bed, and it's a tough balance to attend to his needs and make him feel safe, while also not coddling him to the point that he can't self-soothe. We worked so hard to get to that point, and now all seems lost. We're both tired and are disagreeing in the middle of the night about how to handle things. Thursday night when he woke up before 1am, crying uncontrolably, I went in and checked on him, but when he started crying a few minutes after I left, I really wanted to let him cry it out. But eventually Craig went in, and eventually he quieted down. But did that set us up for another bad night? Such a tough call. Last night ended up being fine, with a full sleep-through...except this time Craig was up in the middle of the night with a nasty headache. We can't win!

And like I said, I think it's impacting Jacob as well. He was cranky on Thursday night, had a bit of a mischevious streak on Friday then fell asleep in a shopping cart around 8:30, and has been generally out of sorts. More than anything, he's been scared. His fears have carried over into daytime as well. He wants to be carried at random times, like walking across our front porch or before stepping up on a curb. He won't go into certain rooms. I just read one of those "Your Toddler This Week" emails lately that talks about new fears rising up right about now, so I guess it shouldn't be a surprise. I just wish I knew what was causing those fears to crop up. Is he having bad dreams? Did he see something on TV that bothered him? Is there a book or a lesson at daycare that put something into his head? One book in one of his favorite series is "Llama Llama Red Pajama", which talks about a little llama who's scared after his mama llama puts him to bed. The moral of the story is that he's safe even when his mama isn't right there, but I'm wondering if his brain isn't quite getting there. Right now I'm stumped, though. Whether it's at night or in the day, it drives me nuts when he won't tell us what's bothering him. He'll just whine incoherently, which grates on my nerves to no end.

Like everything else, I'm hoping this is just a phase and will be over quickly. We all need better sleep. Soon.

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