The Nightmare of Christmas Past: My Daughter and Her Sleep Issues

BlogHer Original Post

I wanted to write about sleep issues for The Crib Sheet, because sleeping, or my daughter's lack of sleeping, has been the bane of my parenting experience. I'm a big sleeper, myself, and so sleep deprivation is my Achille's heel.

One of the things I love about blogging is that it creates a snapshot in time that can be referenced at a later date, after memory has softened the experience to a 1980s-senior-photo haze. Therefore, I broke into the Surrender, Dorothy vault to bring you this view into December 22, 2005, when my sleep nightmares were peaking and my daughter was around 18 months old. I write this after sleeping 7 hours straight after one wake-up. It hasn't completely gone away, but it's definitely eased off. So, there's that.

(insert flashback montage)

Apparently, it wasn't the nightlight. After one successful night with her new nightlight, moon-like and glowing like a Lunesta butterfly, the little angel has woken up two nights in a row, earlier than ever before. Whereas before it was like 4 a.m., now it's 2, with a whole night stretched in front of me like so many lost hours.

I've been keeping a sleep log for her (although it doubles as one for me, since I certainly am not sleeping when she is not sleeping). At present count, she has slept through the night 15 out of the last 41 days, a 37% success rate. In that time, we have once again tried:

  • Ferber - by the book. We tried this for two weeks. No response. Cried every night she was actually up for at least 45 minutes to two hours. Inexplicably slept some nights.
  • Back rubbing. Inexplicably slept some nights.
  • Sitting in her room, Supernanny style, closer and closer to the door. Same thing - awake for 45 minutes to two hours. Unfortunately, this was really painful because we had to be sitting up and watching to see if she fell asleep. Inexplicably slept some nights.
  • Sleeping on the floor of her room - this is what we're on now. My neck feels like the days of crashing on a friend's futon after a late night at the bar. These days, though, I'm not even getting drunk or anything. Inexplicably slept some nights.

Usually, by around five, we give into the cries for "MIL! MIL!" and take her downstairs to the sofa. She falls asleep immediately and sleeps like a rock. A sweating, red-headed, 29-pounds-on-my-sternum rock.

And it's getting a little crowded on the couch.

The couch is green. It's eight years old. Despite three professional cleanings, it smells of baby vomit, cat and sweat when you are face down in its green-ness. It has a board under the cushions to prevent sagging. This board is ineffective. Yet, the couch. It seems to us the last bastion we are trying to protect is OUR BED. Is this worthwhile? Am I really doing anything different by using the couch instead of our bed?

I like to think so. But really, I don't know. I've now read eight different books on sleep, from Ferber to Sears to myriad other unknowns. There is one that I liked. It had a pull-out mantra for tired parents that contained sayings like "You are not a bad parent" and "You are not causing this night-waking." My best friend S. is not sure why I even feel guilty or would not pick her up at night, although to be fair, S. is childless and probably does not fully understand the continuity of the problem, the hours spent staring at the glowy-green Lunesta nightlight and wondering if I will ever touch the butterfly again.

Damn that butterfly. I want to eat it for dinner.



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