Friday, January 9th, 2014
It’s 5AM. Fox is still waking up in 2-hour intervals and after getting him back down at 4AM I am up. I try to clear my mind, find gratitude, mentally flood my body with relaxing light, and go back to sleep. But after an hour of listening to my baby breathe (which aside from hearing him laugh is one of my favorite sounds) I was really up.

I unload the dishwasher and make some hot lemon water. It’s a chilly 61º in the house – we like it cold when we sleep. Sleep. My eyes start to water as I wrap my hands around my mug – my bottom lashes serving as a flood gate holding it all in. Lots of people wake up at 5AM – this is totally fine. My neck loosens its grip around my throat. I think I’ve convinced myself for now. I open my laptop to do some work. I’m choosing 5AM.

By 10AM I’m melting down. Everything feels pointless. I call my mom.

“Well, honey. I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know why he’s wired this way. Your brother used to wake up in the middle of the night sometimes but he would just quietly play with his toys in his crib and fall back asleep.”

Okay. Tonight I’m letting him cry it out. He can cry all night long. It’s either that or I’m running away to Australia.

Saturday, January 10th, 2014
It’s 5AM. Fox is stirring. I brought him in the bed with me when he started crying at midnight. It’s always like this. During the day I make big plans to kick the habit – no really this time. But that baby is my heroine and maybe tonight is the night he’ll sleep for just a little bit longer. So it’s 5AM and he does this thing where he sits up and slams his head back down. This time, as his hard skull crashes into my brow bone, I have a sort of flash back to his birth – I will never forget the feeling of his hot fuzzy head coming out of my body. My eyes are burning – the same sensation you get when you’ve stayed up too late reading. I might cry. Beebs – you’ve gotta take the baby.

The next time I look up it’s 8AM and the house is silent. Jeremy and the baby are asleep on the couch. My eyes are still burning but in this moment I can clearly see the point of it all.

  1. Sally D. F.

    Yea. It’s worth it. 3.5 year old still in bed w us. But the 2 year mark was a huge turning point. Just in time to go for another.

  2. Justine

    Hi, Kathleen. Justine again. I just felt compelled to drop you a note to say, it is OK. I think I have mentioned before that my son Gus was exactly the same. Every 2 hours (for two years. I’m sorry.) You will make it. It does get better (and smart kids need less sleep! Hang on to that). Your business probably can’t be everything that you want it to be at the moment, and you need to be OK with that. It needs to be enough to challenge you and keep you in the world, but that’s probably about all. However, it is a great time to build a solid base. Ten years on, my business is still alive (not huge but it pays the school fees and for great holidays!). Hang in there. I want you to know that you are heard and you are not alone.

  3. Megan

    Oof. Been here, sister. (And anxious about being here again in a couple short months.) The straw that broke this camel’s back was a four-day get-away without our son after we had weaned. It was the most sleep we’d gotten in over a year. I felt like myself again. When we got home, my husband and I worked on incremental crying it out. Not fun but our son did well with it. After three nights, no more wake-ups. (You know, until teeth, regressions, etc.) But no matter what you decide to do, I must echo Justine’s sentiments that it will pass. And there are loads of zombie mamas trying to figure it out/function/fulfill every need right along with you. Wishing you guys the best.

  4. Judy

    I wish I could just pop into your head and take the anxiety away. I have listened to countless girl friends (and now my sister) call me on the phone, their voices breaking, while they feel they are on the brink of breakdown.

    Friends/sisters and even coworkers tend to gravitate to me when they are baby sleep issues because both of my babes sleep through the night. Whether it be a miracle, or the work I put into it, I don’t know…and I don’t really care (I don’t want to jinx it by thinking about it too much). But despite my babes sleeping through the night NOW, they didn’t at first, and I will never forget the intense anxiety you get as you look outside and see nightfall coming.

    I don’t agree that you HAVE to be ok with what is going on right now. You are allowed to break down, and want more for you, your babe and your business. Just try not to let it make you feel inadequate, because what you are doing is quite the opposite. You are conquering everything that is important to you right now…..and you are doing it with little sleep. YOU are the heroine.

    Another blog I read had a great little exercise, I like doing this to bring some perspective. I realize today may not be a day you want perspective, some days you just want to wallow because there is little energy for anything else, bur for a day that it seems fitting, try this (from cup of joe):

    “Picture that the Grand Canyon is your life–your past, present and future. Start envisioning the various parts of your life within the canyon: Over there is the day you were born, your third-grade choir performance, your job as a babysitter. Picture your present: There’s your apartment, your friends, your mom, the book you’re reading right now. Picture your future: There’s your next vacation, the love of your life, your future children, the Top Chef finale. 🙂

    Now, picture the enormous Grand Canyon and drop your worry into it. Whatever you’re worrying about–your cranky boss, your dating life, a salty comment from a friend–will be barely visible. “See how tiny it looks?” she says. Suddenly your problem will seem much, much smaller in comparison to the grand course of your huge, rich, long life.”

    You are doing it all mama, and you are doing it well.

  5. I do hope he falls into a better pattern soon. I know how tiring this can be. Makes functioning properly during the rest of the day so hard…

    I didn’t go through such hard times. My kid slept through bigger intervals and I worked from home, so I used to take a nap with her in the early afternoon, to catch up on what I missed at night. Of course, we never quite “catch up”, but it helps. I was never a nap-person, but during that time, it saved me.

  6. Margie

    Friend, I feel ya. For me, that first year was hard. I had times where I even regretted having a baby. Every time I tried to take a shower, eat, even pump, it’s like he knew and he’d wake up. But it got better, slowly but albeit better. 2+ years later and my now toddler sleeps through the night, with an occasional interruption here and there. He’s healthy, thriving and only my most favorite person. Sending you love, light and peace today and every day.

  7. Kristen

    Oh I am empathizing with you, Kathleen. My (now 19-mo old) twins didn’t sleep for more than 2-3 hours at a time until 13 months, when I weaned them fully and just had had enough. It was rough for a couple of days during the cry-it-out phase, but eventually the combo of crying it out and no nursing at night clicked and they’re sleeping mostly through now. A LOT of stuff was sacrificed during that time – sleep, sanity, etc. – and now on the other side I can only say THANK GOD and power to you!!

  8. Heather

    Lack of sleep is by far the hardest part of parenting that I was not prepared for. Even now there are times when our almost 3 year old won’t stay in bed all night long, and our 14 month old is also waking up a couple times a night crying (so I bring her to our bed), but often she is up by 5:00-5:30, which is really just hard on me because I’m trying to get everyone’s stuff ready for the day and she just wants mama. I try to take deep breaths, and remember this won’t last forever. I wear her when I can and now when I get ready for work she sits on the counter playing in the sink. It’s not perfect and most of the time I feel like I’m walking in a fog, but eventually the sleep will come. Hang in there!

  9. For us, the 5-10-15 method has been the best solution. It really works. Like (almost) magic. It has been used and known here in Quebec because the hospital for children (St-Justine hospital) in Montreal use it and a doctor wrote a book about it. I found a link in english: http://www.motherforlife.com/health/child/sleep/150-baby-s-sleep-the-5-10-15-method.thtml?page=2

    And here is the link of that book (there’s an english version too): http://www.enfinjedors.com

    Like anything, it is a phase and your life and energy will be back. Wish you the best.

  10. We had a great sleeper for about a year, and now….not so much. Thanks for keeping it real, Kathleen! I needed to read these words today. My constant mantra is: EVERYTHING is temporary. This too shall pass.


  11. Britt

    Maybe he is waking up because he is cold! 🙂

    • Ffion

      My boyfriend allegedly used to cry for no discernible reason while having his nappy changed until the dad started hair-drying his tummy while doing it. He was just cold and from then on was happy as could be 🙂

      Maybe there’s some truth in this.

      So sorry to hear you’re struggling with this Kathleen – I have no kids, so I cannot even imagine. But I’m sure you’re going to figure it all out like the Warrior Mama you are 🙂

      • Okay, I should explain that our house is split level and even when the thermostat downstairs says 61º it is much warmer upstairs where we all sleep! When I keep it any warmer the baby wakes up sweaty!

  12. heather

    Hang in there. The first ten months, my little boy was up every three hours. Finally fell into a better pattern of sleeping through the night but up at 5am, for the day. It lasted until he was three and now he sleeps till 7:30. Those dark hours in the middle of the night and early, early morning can be bleak and ugly. I’m sorry for what you’re going through. It’s exhausting and scary.

  13. Kristy

    Hi Kathleen! I just want you to know you are not alone and no matter what you are doing, it is the RIGHT thing to do for you and your family. We are currently at the same point with our 14 month old daughter. She wakes up every 2-3 hours and will cry and cry and cry unless she is comforted (AKA picked up and cuddled and sometimes given a bottle or sippy cup). She ends up in our bed every night. While most days I am SO OVER IT, I also love that cuddling time together. I just wish (hope, dream, long) for a full nights rest. I am not sure when the end of this time of my life will come, but I just HAVE to keep thinking, This Too Shall Pass. Best wishes and good luck tonight! Oh, and if you do figure out what ends up working for Fox, could you please let me know? I will try almost anything with Ava at this point. And I will do the same for you. 🙂

  14. Carrie

    no mom experience here- just want to send a big ‘ol hug and thoughts of peace and calm and patience to you! You got this.

  15. Baby did the same

    Hang in there! My girl was the same way + I suffer from insomnia and sleep apnea, so I felt I was at death’s door by 8 months. We took baby step changes and now at 17 months she’s mostly sleeping through the night on her own. First, a paci was employed – she has a strong desire to suck, but that meant on me all the time. Second, Daddy was assigned nighttime “first responder” position, that way she didn’t automatically expect to nurse when she when she was crying. Third, mommy will only nurse a max of 2 times a night. This went pretty well, Dad survived and baby survived – mom got a much needed reprieve. Over a period of months, we cut back to nursing once at night. Then, Daddy started offering a bottle instead of mom. Baby girl quickly lost interest in having cow’s milk in the middle of the night. And, that’s how we did it. Of course, my co-workers with the sleep-through-the-night-since-6-weeks babies all think I’m nuts, but some kids just need their people when they need them. It is what it is, but there are small steps that you can take. Do what you can to take care of you and him at the same time. Everyone suffers a little, but everyone wins a little too.

  16. Baby did the same

    Oh, and we kicked her out of our bed at 8 months. We both needed the distance from each other at that point.

  17. First – big hugs to you, momma. Second – love the sleeping hubby + babe photo (I’m always in trouble for taking the sleeping / napping photos lately!). Third – I also just caught up on your year in review post and reading this thought “damn … she did SO MUCH in a year … and with a newborn!”.

    Even when it seems tough and sleep is at a minimum you’re still pushing forward and making shit happen. Your dreams happen. For you and more importantly for that little guy. Much admiration for you – hang in there (I am and will be doing the same here!).

  18. Elizabeth

    Sister, I feel you. While we are only 8 1/2 months into this whole parenting thing, I feel you so hard. Monroe decided she wanted to wake up every hour for a week and when I realized that I couldn’t form a complete sentence when trying to talk to my husband, couldn’t email clients back or even work in general, when I realized my PPD was out of control, and when I realized driving was a bad idea, we tried CIO. That was a month ago and she still stirs a little, but the longest she’s cried recently was 20 minutes and then slept the rest of the night. I put earbuds in the first few nights and my husband was in charge of the monitor. It was so hard. I cried as hard as she did. But it’s working and I am so relieved. I was so adamant that I would NEVER do CIO, I was at my end.

    I hope things start looking up for you. Those tears are there for a reason and I’m sure it feels good to let them flow. I’m sending virtual hugs your way and hope that you find a solution that works best for your family because man. Sleep.

  19. Becca

    Hi Kathleen, it’s ok to be upset you aren’t sleeping well you’re not upset at Fox, just the situation. That said, think about it as teaching your little boy how to sleep through the night. A full nights rest is a gift for everyone and soothing himself back to sleep is a skill he’ll use his whole life.

  20. Angela

    Hi Kathleen, so sorry for your lack of sleep. I understand your pain. Our little one (now 7 1/2 years old!) never wanted to sleep just nurse. When he was 5 months old we tried CIO method and it worked. It was painful for all of us but my husband and I were walking into walls and complete idiots. He started sleeping in longer chunks 5-6 hours at a time versus 1-2. Sleep deprivation is a torture tactic that’s why they use it, it’s awful. I hope you get sleep soon. Sending you peace and love.

    • XO – thank you for making me feel less alone in this!

  21. Gabie

    I’ve read your blog for quite some time but have never commented. I’m not a big blog commentor in general, but I just wanted to tell you that it gets better. My baby boy is 22 months old and wakes up usually one time every night. He was a very frequent waker for a very long time. Things got better when we started to wean. When I weaned him of the middle of the night feeds the sleep got a little better then when I weaned him all together at 21 months the sleep got a little better. I never let him cry it out. That never felt like an option for us. I used to rock him to sleep every night then lay him in his bed and my husband and I would have a couple of hours together without the baby. Now we’ve bought him a twin size bed so I lay with him until he goes to sleep, but he fights it, yes he does. When he wakes up at night(sometimes at 10:00, sometimes at 2:30) we bring him into bed with us and he’ll usually sleep the rest of the night until about 5:30-6:30. I think all of this not sleeping business has to do with breastfeeding and smart babies. You’re doing great and it does get better. The only suggestion I have is, at least sometimes, try to go to bed when you put him to bed for the night. Eat your dinner early and just go to sleep with him.

    • Gabie – I started thinking about putting a mattress on the floor to do exactly what you’re describing! I got vetoed by my family saying that Fox would wake up and wander around. How does it work for you?

      • Gabie

        Douglas has never gotten out of his bed during the night. He wakes up and cries/calls out for us while sitting in his bed. I don’t even think he’s fully awake when he does that but usually my husband gets him so I don’t really know. He has only ever gotten out of his bed a couple of times when he’s woken up from a nap. I think Douglas always hated his baby bed because he goes to Montessori school during the day and never napped in a baby bed there. I can’t tell if you’ve night weaned or not but I really think that helped our situation. He would alway wake up and want to nurse back to sleep. I started to not let him do that when he was about 15 months or go I guess. He would wake up and cry a little and want to nurse but he was in bed with us so I’d just hold him and tell him there’s no more milk and he would eventually go back to sleep. That process didn’t take too terribly long to work itself out. I still have no idea why he continues to wake up at least once every night. He goes right back to sleep once he’s in bed with us so it’s bearable. This baby sleep thing is so facinating and all babies are so different so it really is just a do what you think is right situation. But I’m so glad to hear things have improved for you!

  22. Megan

    With my son, he was up a 2x a night and up at 5am until he was one. The common belief is to put your baby to bed around 8pm. After trying a few different things I finally moved his bed time back to 9pm and almost over night he began sleeping thru the night most nights and waking up a 7am. It does get better. xo

  23. Rachel

    Sleep is EVERYTHING, isn’t it? I so feel you – the only thing we were anal about when it came to baby stuff/schedules/etc was sleep. And now that we’re getting ready to do it all over again, I’m nervous about how it’s going to go. I had a total meltdown in my OB’s office after J was born. She patted my hand and said, “You realize that sleep deprivation is used as a torture tool in foreign prisons, right?” And that made me feel a little bit better because OMG I could not take one more night and I felt like a failure. The long and the short of it is that you will survive. He will sleep at some point – but it’s up to you to set the boundaries. If that means CIO, he will survive and you will too (get some earplugs or give yourself permission to go outside while he cries to give yourself an auditory break). You’re a good mom and you love your baby – it’s going to work out. Hugs friend!

    • It’s EVERYTHING. The whole thing just made me feel really lonely – but sharing it has helped me feel like I’m not alone in this. I think I felt like a failure not because Fox wouldn’t sleep but because my reaction was so weak and ungraceful. The good news is that just after publishing this post he’s started sleeping!

      I’m sending you lots of love in your final weeks of pregnancy! Cannot wait to meet your new little guy!

  24. lane

    Thank you for sharing these vulnerable moments of crying/frustration/etc…I don’t have kids yet, but I know those moments when everything is just too much and and and…I always find comfort and strength (at the same time) in your posts. thank you for being brave and sharing this moment with us. I’m sending peace and strength to ya sister!

    • Comfort and strength was exactly what I was looking for as I posted this – and I got it from all of you reading along. Thank you for your support! XO!

  25. Been there, done that

    Sweetie, I’m like your mom’s age, or older. I have four adult children and went through this with each of them. You’re doing a wonderful job and are a super mom, but now’s the time to start training your little guy to sleep.

    Make bedtime a loving and fun routine. Do this at the same time every night. After you’ve sang your last song and said a prayer, say goodnight and tell Fox to go to sleep. Then leave him be. Let him cry!

    Let him cry for ten minutes. Go back in and soothe him, but don’t pick him up. Pat his back for a bit, then once again, tell him to go to sleep. Once again, leave him be. And let him cry some more.

    Repeat. And repeat.

    This is super hard, but this MUST BE DONE! Few babies learn to sleep on their own, and this is just the first of many difficult things in life you must let your child learn.

    Learning to sleep on his own will give Fox confidence and security. He will trust you as his in-control parents. Most of all, it will give you the rest you so desperately need.

    • Thanks for your support! After publishing this post Fox stayed with my mom over night and has been sleeping through the night since then! We haven’t done anything different. Very little crying and he’s practically been putting himself to sleep. It feels like a miracle!

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