February 22, 2015

FIAO 7.2: Adventures in Sleep With Twins - The Month of No Sleep

I am hating my life right now.

No, my life isn't that bad. I don't hate all of my life. I hate my life during the hours of 8pm to 8am right now.

Whether it's a cognitive leap, teething, a growth spurt or what-ever-in-the-hell-ever my kids do not sleep. Correction: they do not sleep for longer than 45 minutes without me helping them back to sleep with the boob. Tonight we reviewed our BabyConnect app history and for the first time I realized that after six straight weeks of solid 7-8 hours (at least) a night they stopped sleeping through the night one week after I started exclusively nursing (vs. pumping and sometimes supplementing).

Coincidence? I am seriously wondering.

I don't need them to sleep through the night. I don't care that they're not. Really. I'm fine with getting six hours myself. But I do need them to pick one. They're either going to go to bed and sleep for a few hours straight before needing to feed a few times or they can stay up later and sleep after cluster feeding all evening. I can't have it both ways anymore.

We are discussing giving them a bottle (of pumped milk and formula) for their "last" feed (although that has NO meaning in our house right now as it is pretty much an all you can eat buffet from about 7pm on or death by screaming). I know when they're actually hungry so I'm worried that they're just using me to suck. They are waking up after 1 hour totally hungry despite nursing every time just before laying down. I don't mind it during the day, but if it keeps going at night, when they alternate and I cannot coordinate tandem feeds while getting any sleep myself (thanks tiny boobs), I feel like it's going to kill me. And they don't shift well either. Literally. If you lay one back down, the other stirs. In our bed, when we have to move one to be near me the other one will wake up.

They are also starting to wake each other with their cries. A month ago this was marathon feeding all night was easier as they always slept through all of this commotion. Now, after doing bedtime twice every night and not getting them down until 10 or 11 around 1 am A cries, feed A, sleep for 5 minutes, B cries, feed B, sleep for 2 minutes, A cries and so on and so forth from about until we get up at 8 or 9.

Mom confession I never thought I'd write - somedays, I lay in bed until 11 tandem feeding and playing with them while they drift back and forth into sleep. I'm sure that's helping, right? Seriously though, those are the only days and of us get any decent sleep despite all my efforts otherwise.

We follow their lead but we guide them in the right direction. That's our mantra. They have always gone "to bed" after a bedtime routine and nursing around 7/8 depending on naps and lately are almost always up within an hour. For the last few weeks up until a few days ago we would let them get up if they were not settled within 20 minutes because this was our cook/clean time and we just figured eff it they're up anyways. Not anymore. We are getting to be so over having babies up until 11:00 with us, even if they give us three or four hours after then. We just have no more us time and it's starting to wear on us.

So for three days now I have stuck to a strict sleep-eat-play schedule. They have taken semi-decent naps, gone down a little more easily and were going for longer stretches at night (3-4 hours instead of 1-2). We also instilled a new rule: no leaving the bedroom once they go down. It's been going well and then tonight Viv threw an epic shit-show an hour after bedtime instead of just nursing and going back to sleep like she had been. For two hours we alternated sitting in there holding her, patting her, nursing her, etc. I nursed her probably six times and we bounced, rubbed, shushed, burped, rocked, everything we could think of - we just didn't let her leave her room. Jules was up and down during this time too so we tandem fed in a folding chair in the dark in their room, a few times too- major super mom points there. If they weren't acting hungry I would just pat them and shush them but tonight they seemed ravenous. They finally fell asleep around midnight. I went to bed and, because why not, Jules was up at 2, Viv at 4 and the cycle of all night nursing began again.

I know they're growing. I know it's not their fault. I know I know I know. But it doesn't make it any easier. I'm feeling my first inklings of sleep deprivation and it's taking a toll on my mood, our house and our relationship. I always said I would never "sleep train" in the classical sense because I could never deny my child simply because it was inconvenient for me but as they get older it seems to be less about them having actual needs and more about just not wanting to sleep alone or, worse, needing me to put them to sleep. I get it, I do, but at the same time one of my biggest fears has always been that they will develop negative sleep associations and an inability to soothe themselves if I don't ever give them the chance. I know there's plenty of time for it, but what if it starts early? What if we miss our window and they end up like their mother and we are doing this forever?!

I have spent my entire life trying to learn how to fall and stay asleep and to no avail. I still struggle nightly with multiple wake-ups myself and god forbid CJ ever leave for a night I don't know what I'll do. My mother, with the best of intentions I'm sure, was my crutch for much of my life when it came to sleep, singing or talking to me, rubbing my arm or even just sitting with me until I fell asleep. She says she let me cry and I just never stopped so it was easier for them to just help me fall asleep. When I left home I had roommates or boyfriends to do it in her place. The few nights I have spent truly alone there was rarely any sleep to speak of unless I was drunk. I spent three years as a Nanny staying overnight a few nights a week and didn't sleep majority of them. I cannot stand the idea that actually being responsive to their needs could one day contribute to the same for them but I am really starting to wonder if that's what happened with me.

In a way, I feel like continuing the way we are going is going to do more harm than good, if only from my own personal experience. We were responsive 100% of the time through 7 months, literally never letting them cry unless we had to (I was in the bathroom or the other one needed us). I think we've established trust enough that they won't give up on me if I let them try to learn to fall asleep on their own around 8 months old. Right? Damn mommy guilt, I don't think it will ever go away.

So, we're going to try messing with their schedules some more and extending wake times. We will keep paying attention to their cues and hopefully establish some semblance of understanding that the night time is for rest. Like I said, I don't mind the middle of the night wake-ups to feed, it's a special time that I cherish with them, but if we could just limit it to one or two and maybe try giving mom and dad a few hours in the evening to themselves I would be over the moon!

Was your baby a tough sleeper or an easy one? What did you find worked for you?


No comments :