Thursday, March 04, 2010

Nerves of steel, heart of stone

The cutie and I are locked in a battle of wills over his naps. He refuses--I mean refuses--to nap longer than 40 minutes. Seriously, I can practically set my clock by him: did he go down at 1:48? He will be up at 2:28. He may be a minute early, but he is rarely a minute late.

I want him to nap longer, not just for my own sanity, but because he needs it. Babies need a lot of sleep in order to learn. Not to mention in order to not be cranky.

He is now five months old; supposedly at four months, babies start figuring out that if they cry, you'll pick them up. Before then, they supposedly do not cry unless there is actually something wrong. How researchers know this, I don't know. But he is certainly crying more determinedly than he used to, and I have noticed that going in briefly to comfort him and then leaving actually now seems to make him cry harder.

So, my effort to make him sleep more and longer, yet not spoil him, calls for nerves of steel and a heart of stone, because that baby will cry for an hour before falling asleep for 40 minutes. This is not a ratio that makes for a happy mommy. Then, after he wakes up, I'll tell him he needs to sleep another 40 minutes at least (his naps should be 1.5 - 2 hours, according to sleep research--and I believe it, because when he gets up after 40 minutes, he's fussy and tired again within an hour), and he will cry for another 30, 40, 50 minutes before I either give up (at this point a solid two+ hours of listening to him cry or waiting for him to wake up and cry, and my nerves are shot) or he finally falls asleep. If he does fall asleep, he'll then sleep for a good hour or more. It's getting past that first 40-minute wake-up that's the trick.

He's still sleeping reasonably well at night, though he's started taking longer to fall asleep after midnight feedings (sometimes he'll lie awake and talk for an hour after feeding, and you can imagine at 2:00 in the morning this does not make me happy. Especially if my sweetie is snoring blissfully beside me), and he's also started trying to wake up for the day at 5:00 am. I feel like pretty much every waking minute of my day is spent trying to get him to sleep a little bit more, and being alternately angry, despairing, frustrated, worried, frantic and just plain exhausted.

I think I'm going to get an ulcer.

On the bright side, I've started reading Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions. What a great book. She expresses so many of the feelings I've had, good and bad, since my cutie was born. Hopefully hers grew up OK, but I don't think I'll research it, just in case.


Squirrelette said...

Oh my. A war of attrition indeed.

It sounds like your description should be more completely entitled "your _strong-willed_ cutie".


Nancy said...

You poor woman! I remember trying to get my second baby to sleep --it seemed like I rocked her endlessly, since I was a total wimp with nerves of rubber and a heart of mush. (In my defense, I was also trying to make sure her crying didn't wake up her brother, so I didn't have _two_ cranky children the next day.)

Pacifiers helped, but when she spit them out in her sleep, I'd have to go find the darn things, so it wasn't a perfect solution. (Sorry if you're in the anti-binky camp. :-)

Eventually, I stopped trying to get her to sleep in the crib, and would let her sleep in the car seat, stroller, or the playroom floor if that's where she happened to pass out. I guess this is pretty common with second (or third, or fourth) children.

My husband and I also made a deal that if, after feeding, burping and changing, I still couldn't induce sleep, I could wake him up to take the baby. I rarely took advantage of this deal, since he was driving on freeways, where sleep deprivation is an active hazard, but knowing that I could helped me feel a _little_ less resentment.

One mantra that helped me is "This too shall pass, nothing is forever" since babies change their habits every month or two. Hang in there!