Thursday, May 26, 2011

Falling asleep

Micah has a really hard time falling asleep.
He has a really strong neck and pulls his head away from your body and will hold it up indefinitely.
I know all the books about sleep training babies says to lie your baby down sleepy but awake, so that they learn that they can fall asleep while they aren't being held.
But that is easier said than done - especially with twins.

Grey will lie down and awake, and put himself to sleep. No prob.
Micah gets laid down, and even if his eyes are drooping and rolling and he was calm and exhausted, he starts screaming the second his head hits the mattress. Sometimes earlier, if he notices we're lying him down.
Sleep training books say "All is well, just pick that baby up. Calm them down and try again."
But it really upsets Grey.
So now the baby that was asleep is awake and crying and the baby that was awake and  crying is having conniptions.
The few nights when we've tried, nonetheless, to lie him down awake -maybe by putting Grey to sleep in our bed and then moving him after Micah is asleep - it took two hours of lying him down and picking him up.
Then, lo, it was time to feed him again.
And then we tried for maybe another 45 minutes, and then we gave up and let him fall asleep in our arms (still took another half hour at least) and then laid him in his bed. He slept for.... another hour maybe and then they woke up to eat.
And all that nonsense began again.
Except we give up and we let Micah do whatever he wants. What he wants is for us to hold him all night long.

It doesn't totally make sense, but the nights that the boys sleep for long stretches of time are the nights following days when they sleep all day.
When they wake up to eat, and play for maybe ten minutes at the most and then go to sleep.

Otherwise they act happy and awake until suddenly they snap.
They're overtired. They're exhausted.
Then they're also up all night crying.

I feel bad for my family because they want to hold and play with the babies and they can't because I've become a tyrant.
They wake up. They eat. They sleep. They don't get to play for more than a few minutes. If my family wants to hold the boys they have to sit around while I nurse and then take turns burping them.
My dad, especially, is the absolute worst at this. He loves to say "But they're not tired, his eyes are wide open. He wants to play with me."
"Put this baby to sleep," I say. Handing him an awake but tired, tightly swaddled baby and then retreating into a dark room to put his brother down.
Inevitably when I return, my baby is unswaddled ("look, he got out of his blanket!") and ever so awake.
There is giggling. Singing. My dad is telling stories.
"Stop playing with him," I say. "He is exhausted and he needs to sleep!"
"I'm not playing with him," he says. "I'm trying to put him to sleep, but he's not tired." He sticks his tongue out at my baby. He does it again.
"That is playing," says my mom.
"I'm just copying what he's doing," says my dad.

Then the baby snaps. And I have to spend an hour soothing him. And then I have to feed him, so I have to wake up his brother and feed them both. And then, because the baby in question has now been awake for perhaps three hours in a row, I now have a hysterical boy who will not sleep.
And this cycle continues all night.

I know that's what happens. I know that they only way to stop the cycle of crying and awake babies is to somehow get the boys to sleep for a few hours in a row.
I know that it's wrong to chloroform your own children.

And yet... I just can't seem to break the circle of wakefulness.
And they were doing so well! Two nights this week I slept for four hours. IN A ROW.
It was life changing.

But last night I slept for two hours in a row.
And Micah was sleeping on my chest for... all of that time.
And he's sleeping on my chest now.  I'd like to lay him down, but then he'll wake up instead of resting.
But if I let him sleep on my chest he will not learn to sleep and thereby avoid rest.

Give this sleep-deprived Mama your votes, if you would.
And any advice you may have, would be highly appreciated.

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Margaret said...

I had a baby at the end of March and we're going through a similar dilemma (except with only one baby). He's sleeping in my arms as I type and I'm afraid to put him down b/c he'll wake up if I do and then the rest of the day is shot! Everyone says it gets easier... Anyway, love your blog!

JBC said...

It's okay. It's only temporary. Try not to worry too much that you're ruining them or they'll develop bad sleep habits. They'll get there... Micah too. You're doing really great!

Molly B said...

Yep, sucks huh? Seriously Becky it does get better you are just in the "bad" least your boys are gaining weight fast enough- once they hit the 13 to 14 pound mark they will sleep through the night...I would suggest if you can seperate them, I took seperated my boys at 3 months- we luckly had the space and had seperate rooms for the boys and it worked out so well...I also would suggest the self soothing, that sucks too as they will cry but it will only be that way for a couple of nights, it does get better. Will now sleeps the entire night from 8 to 7 and Luke does pretty well from 8 to 2- then feds and then wakes again at 7...promise it will get better!

Brittany said...

Oh my goodness. I'm sure you've read all my sleep posts and how I had an impossible time getting them to sleep. I'm still slightly convinced that it's impossible to sleep train twins. For us, someone always fights it, someone's always teething, someone's always over stimulated, etc. It's nearly impossible. We're not to the point where the girls pull themselves to standing position in their cribs and can't figure out how to get down. I go in, lay them back down and 3 seconds later they're standing. Cribs should come with seat belts. That book I'm borrowing from you has been pretty helpful though! I just think that with twins, you've got double the chance for a rebellious, teething, sick, grumpy baby and that throws everything off.

And don't worry, I've turned into the tyrant too. I decided that I don't really care what anyone else thinks because with Josh working in the middle of the night, I'm the one who will have to get up with them. Not our family, not our friends or random people that want to give us advice, but me.

And sometimes it sucks.

Hopefully they start having solid chunks of sleep more regularly. You're almost to the 3 month mark which for us, became a little easier. That's when they started sleeping 5 hours at a time. Gooood luck!

Lauren said...

My parents were the same way when Violet was younger. They didn't believe that she was tired until she freaked and couldn't be consoled. Not all babies peacefully drift off to sleep when they get tired - mine is a fighter to the last second that she closes her eyes. They eventually figured it out but it took them a while. Why don't people believe the mama? Don't they know that we know best? ;) Hang in there!

Jen said...

All the newborn/parenting books I've been reading say not to try to sleep train your baby. They say to just respond to the newborn's cry and comfort them because then the newborn learns that he can trust you to provide for his needs.

Of course I'm sure it's a lot more complicated when you have twins that are waking each other up, etc.

Good job for being assertive about your boys' needs and making sure they get their rest. I think you could replace "tyrant" with "good mom." :)

Shawntae @ alittlekingandi said...

I would say not to sleep train them yet. They are still soo little and it sounds like you are doing an amazing job! Cuddle them lots it wont cause any bad habits this young because they are still soo little. Savor all these moments because they really do grow so fast and just like everyone said you're in a "hard stage" as soon as they gain a bit more weight they will be sleeping more. :)

able mabel said...

(I know I'll catch flack for this...)

Try sleeping Micah on his belly. I've done it with all my babies when they have refused to sleep on their backs. (make sure the sheet is snug against the mattress and the blanket is around his shoulders and is tucked under the mattress.) I've also had babies that spit up a lot and have been told that they have a greater chance of choking on their spit up while on their back than they do have dying of SIDS while on their bellies.

I've had the discussion with multiple baby docs and most have admitted that when a baby refuses to sleep, it's more important for both mom and baby to have sleep rather than stress about the small SIDS risk of belly sleeping babies.

It's hard to do at first but especially if Micah can lift his head, he is considered "safe" by some experts for switching to his belly.

Anna said...

oh, i really feel with you. it can be hard! the best advice i got when my daughter was a baby was, to put her own every two hours during the day. and it worked. just like you described it. sleep makes sleep. we did it just the other way around then mamamandolin: every way to get her to sleep was okay during the day, and at nighttime we tried to be consequent and put her to sleep in her crib (or between us in the big bed :-))i wish you long and restful nights!

The Jacksons said...

I agree with mama mandolin too. Granted, I only have one baby but she refused to be put down and I was constantly rocking her to sleep and holding her. Then at 5 months she decided she hated to be rocked and wanted to put herself to sleep! I feel your pain. Maybe you'll have the same luck! Wishing you some restful nights ahead and sooon!

Aimee said...

I've never had a baby, so you don't have to take my advice. But when I would babysit my niece I would hold her until she fell asleep, and then I was able to slowly move her and put her into her crib. (I babysat her for a month straight, about 4 mornings a week) and this worked well almost every time. Good luck.

-Tess- said...

you should try to give baby a gentle massage/rub on their head or forehead. this always put my nephew to sleep.
sometimes I also scratch his back, or give him a back and neck massage, and he will fall asleep.

Hope it helps

mylittlehome6 said...

Emery is like that as well. Yesterday for example he'd barely nap. He'd snooze for 10 minutes and wake up pissed off. He was sooo overly tired it was horrible to get him to sleep at bed time. Then today that's all he has done is sleep.

Thankfully he sleeps 6-9 hours a night so I'm able to handle him when he has those super awake days.

The trick I've found is self soothing. As long as he is changed, fed and warm I'll let him fuss. It's hard to listen to but within 10 minutes he is OUT. Also if that doesn't work I put him in the swing and then he sleeps great and then I transfer to his crib.

Sarah said...

People will tell you all kinds of advice... good and bad. With my experience with our twins... trust your instincts. You are their MAMA! Do whatever works! Our girls spent many nights sleeping on chests.

sienna said...

sounds like you are doing great! bo is a total sleep fighter and i hate it, but i've said many a prayer to get me through a sleepless night. it helps! bo still fights sleep at every turn, so let me know if you figure anything out. i'd love to try it.