Thursday, 18 February 2016

Rough patch

I know I'm overdue for a post.  I keep thinking about it, telling myself I'm going to write something, but the honest truth is, I didn't think anyone would really appreciate reading what I have to say.  Because I'm not in a very good place lately.

I knew that getting a baby to sleep (and getting some sleep yourself) was one of the biggest challenges for new parents.  Hell, sometimes it felt like that's all anyone ever said to me when I was pregnant.  "Sleep now, because you won't anymore when the baby comes!  Har har har!!"  So when Q was born and slept so well right off the bat that we needed to use an alarm to wake him for feedings,   I counted myself lucky and was very hesitant to even mention it to other new moms for fear of seeming smug.  I knew it wasn't anything I'd done or hadn't done.  It was just how he was.

Fast forward ten months, we've now been pummelled with various sleep regressions, teething, illnesses, developmental milestones, and travel.  You'd think I'd have baby sleep somewhat figured out by now.  And yet, you couldn't be more fucking wrong.

Things haven't been good on the sleep front since December.  I mean, Q's never been a very good napper, but at least nighttimes were going OK.  Until they weren't.  It started with very early wakeups (as early as 4 or 4:30am) and a complete refusal to go back to sleep.  Then naps started to spiral out of control, with Q fighting them tooth and nail and sometimes only going down for as little as 30 minutes twice a day.  Naps finally started to lengthen again due to some concerted nap training effort on my part...and then nights fell apart.  He would wake at random intervals in the middle of the night and require an hour or two of rocking and singing to go back to sleep.  Some nighttime sleep training seems to have fixed that (for now)...but we're right back to early waking and nap hell.  As soon as I work on fixing one thing, something else goes sideways.  I feel like one of those cartoons where the character is in a boat or a submarine and it springs a leak, so he puts his hand over it.  Then another leak springs up, then another, so he uses his other hand, then a foot, then another foot and before you know it he's tied up in knots, he's out of appendages and the boat is sinking fast.

At this point, I feel like I've read every single thing on the internet about baby sleep, and napping in particular.  I feel like I've tried it all.  Blackout blinds, check.  White noise, check.  No pacifier or blanket or lovey, since he's totally uninterested in any of them.  I've rocked him, I've shush-patted him, I've tried co-sleeping.  I've done Ferber's controlled crying and full-on extinction cry-it-out.  I've tried more awake time.  I've tried less awake time.  And finally, last week I threw in the towel and called a sleep consultant.  She was quite lovely and suggested that our free initial 15 minute phone consultation might in fact be all I needed to get Q back on track, as she thought his problems were caused by overtiredness and that I simply needed to tweak his wake times to make them much more drastically shorter than I'd ever tried.  So then I did that.  And it worked, blissfully, for three short days.  Then out of nowhere (and with me having done absolutely nothing differently, and following the consultant's plan exactly), he just flat out started refusing his afternoon nap entirely.  As in, not having it at all.

Today, for instance, was particularly heinous.  Q woke at 5am and resisted all efforts to be put back to sleep.  He took a 30 minute catnap from 9 to 9:30am, cried for an hour through my first attempt at an early afternoon nap around 12:30pm, and then happily babbled his way through an hour long stroller walk at 3pm instead of being lulled to sleep like I hoped.  That's 30 minutes of nap sleep, total, all day.  Not enough in anyone's book, no matter what sleep expert du jour you ask.  Even if he was trying to drop to one nap, which every resource tells me it's way too early for, that nap certainly isn't meant to be a 30 minute one.

Admittedly, I'm not sleep deprived the way I would be with a newborn who's waking every 2 or 3 hours all night.  I can go to bed early and stave off the worst of the effects of being up at 4 or 5am every day.  My frustration level is through the roof, though, and I'm afraid that it's turning me into a terrible mother.  On particularly bad nap days like today, I basically never get a break.  I have no backup, since all of my family lives out of province and even my in-laws are a 2 hour drive away.  I have no one who can come over and give me a few minutes to take a shower or get dinner started or (heaven forbid) relax, or any of the other million things that normal moms must do while their baby is napping.  I don't ever have a chance to recharge and as a result I end up burning out fast, which means that instead of doing important stuff like playing or reading or singing to Q I'm sitting on the floor zoning out and basically doing the bare minimum to keep him from killing himself by sticking his finger in a socket or accidentally throwing himself off the stairs.  I get frustrated with stupid little things that shouldn't (and don't normally) really bother me, like Q ripping off his own bib at dinner and getting food all over himself.  On a good sleep day, it's cute and Facebook-status-update worthy.  On the fifth day of him letting him CIO for an hour for an afternoon nap that never happened (thanks for nothing, sleep consultant), it's yell-at-your-baby-then-feel-like-a-piece-of-human-excrement-for-doing-so worthy.

But the frustration isn't even the worst part.  The worst is how it makes me question myself, and my own abilities as a mother.  I mean, if I can't get my baby to sleep, how is he supposed to grow and thrive?  How is he supposed to develop properly?  If I can't even do this basic thing, certainly I don't even deserve to be a mom.  Maybe infertility was the universe's way of attempting to stop me from doing this thing I was never meant to do.  And instead I went and circumvented nature and now I have this baby I wasn't supposed to have and I'm just going to end up fucking him up despite how much I love him and want nothing but good for him.

And then there's the times I'm so tired and frustrated that I don't want to be around him at all.  Which is scary and guilt-inducing in a whole different way.  Because there are people who would give ANYTHING to be in my position, pregnant after one try with donor eggs, now with a healthy thriving beautiful baby boy.  And then I feel worse than a piece of human excrement. 

So that's where I'm at.  I kept waiting to climb out of the other side of this pit of sleep suck, and write a hilarious and insightful post on sleep training and nap training and how we all survived it.  But at this point I'm starting to think this is going to be as good as it gets, at least for a while.