Halfway through my third sleepless year...Help!

(13 Posts)
Minty82 Mon 10-Oct-16 17:41:20

DS is two-and-a-half and doesn't believe in sleep. As a newborn he was a dream, and lulled us cruelly into a false sense of security. He was reliably sleeping 10 or 11 hours a night at eight weeks, which I hadn't believed was possible, and self-settled happily with his thumb. At four months he started waking for feeds again, which I attributed to a growth spurt and thought we'd just need to ride it out. But he hasn't slept since. He became a total boob monster, comfort sucking all night long, and when he was almost a year I weaned him off breastfeeding in the mistaken assumption that if it wasn't available he wouldn't wake up for it. It was awful and I felt really evil doing it - and it was completely pointless as he continued to wake as much as ever.
He settles fine generally at bedtime - though he usually needs me to sit with him. But he'll then wake at some point between midnight and three and need me to sit by the cot for anywhere from ten mins to half an hour; then wake again between four and five and scream the place down till he's ensconced in our bed with some milk. Once there, if we're lucky he'll fall asleep for an hour or two but if not he'll thrash, kick and shout till we finally agree to start the day. Last night, after a quick resettle at half midnight, I sat up with him from 3-5am trying to cuddle him back to sleep in an armchair to delay the inevitable bed invasion and give DH a break...but he wasn't having any of it. He's been through phases of sleeping through till between four and five semi reliably, but for the astronaut couple of weeks even that has seemed a distant dream again. We don't a spare room for either me or DH to decamp to, and we're feeling broken!

Minty82 Mon 10-Oct-16 17:42:27

Past! No idea where astronaut came from!

tankerdale Mon 10-Oct-16 18:29:45

You poor things. I'm no expert, my main philosophy is 'do what you've got to do' & am a believer in bringing then into bed if it works, but if clearly doesn't in your DSs case.

We had slightly similar with DD1 - she would holler for us in the night from her bed.

I think the key is that he settles well at bed time with you by the cot. If you can get him to settle himself at bedtime hopefully in the night he will resettle himself too.

We got in the habit of lying next to DD to get her to go to sleep then of course when she woke in the night she wondered where we were and hollered for us.

How you get him to fall asleep alone depends on your own philosophy. You could be quite firm refusing to stay in there just popping in to verbally reassure him til he falls asleep. It will be painful and he will protest I expect but if you're consistent he will soon get the message. But this isn't for everyone so you might want to research softer methods like gradual withdrawal.
But I think the key is bedtime and consistency.

tankerdale Mon 10-Oct-16 18:30:59

...or you can wait for it to pass. It will. And if he can't already then he'll soon be able to be reasoned with more and bribed encouraged by reward charts etc.

Minty82 Tue 11-Oct-16 09:36:05

Thanks for responding Tankerdale, that's kind. He will sometimes settle alone at bedtime happily enough, but at night he seems to need constant reassurance that we're all still here. I've tried at various stages leaving him to settle himself, while looking in regularly so he doesn't feel too abandoned, but his stamina for continued screaming has always been greater than mine for being able to bear it, and it never seems to lead to any progress!

We've so far kept him in a cot as I can't imagine he'll ever agree to stay in a bed, but maybe it's time to make a big deal of a big boy's bed, complete with rewards for staying in it!

LauraMipsum Wed 12-Oct-16 13:16:11

Exactly the same here with 2yo DD OP. You're not alone. Generally goes down fine at 7pm but is then up like clockwork at 11pm when we go to sleep, 3am and 5am.

I am beyond exhausted and beyond any ability to do anything about it. I've been letting her come into bed with us because it mostly works in the moment.

We've replaced milk with water. She still wakes for the water!

How old do they have to be for bribery? I'm not sure her cause & effect reasoning is advanced enough for that yet.

Minty82 Wed 12-Oct-16 19:12:51

Argh, it's grim Laura isn't it?! And when he seems to be reliably sleeping till at least two, say, so I'll just go to bed really early and give myself a decent stretch, he'll outfox me by waking at midnight!

We also have a four-year-old DD, who wasn't a great sleeper till she was about ten months (though never anything like as bad as DS) but since then has slept 12 or 13 hours a night and never wakes unless she's ill. Have given up hope of ever having two like that! And then the poor thing has to put up with being snapped at by a foul-tempered, exhausted mother, and I feel terrible...

LauraMipsum Thu 13-Oct-16 12:49:36

Last night DD was up at 10.30pm, 1am and 3am before being awake and ready for the day at 5.50am.

Surely SHE must need more sleep than that, never mind me, and I'm a total zombie today.

I've been wondering about making her a weighted blanket to see if that helps.

Minty82 Thu 13-Oct-16 14:23:08

They really are in the same mould - I resettled DS at 11pm and 1.45am last night, before hoiking him into bed with us at 3.15. Where he did more or less sleep till 7am, though with a LOT of wriggling. He's just deeply mammalian - he likes to wrap himself as tightly around me or DH as physically possible, preferably with his face right against ours. Which is very cute but not conducive to much rest!

LauraMipsum Thu 13-Oct-16 15:55:53

I tried to get DD back to sleep like that at the 5.50 point, as she will sometimes snooze again if she's cuddled right up to me. No chance, she prodded me in the eye and said MAMA WAKEY WAKEY, MAMA COFFEE! until I got up.

I did then hand her over to DP with instructions to take her downstairs and let her watch cbeebies for another hour though!

Heloise1982 Fri 14-Oct-16 08:57:13

I hate to say it, but I think your options are either to wait it out (unappealing) or try some hardcore sleep training (unappealing.) It's a question of which is more unappealing! Personally I would go with the sleep training, not only because lack of sleep is truly godawful, but also because surely your DS must be struggling also with such broken sleep? Do you have any HVs in your area who specialise in sleep? Mine was absolutely brilliant, but I know I got lucky. At that age tho (mine are younger), I suspect it may involve some serious crying, so I do sympathise. flowers - sleep deprivation is the devil.

Minty82 Fri 14-Oct-16 11:27:03

Not sure about the HV as we moved counties over the summer and I haven't had any contact with them yet. Worth a try though - or MiL was saying maybe consult the doctor in case there's any underlying reason for it other than just habit...but I imagine a doctor would say have you talked to the HV.
I'm not sure I have the balls for hardcore sleep training - I can't bear the thought of letting him get himself that upset when all he wants is a cuddle. But you're right, I don't know quite how he's functioning!

Tickle76 Sun 16-Oct-16 18:32:02

DS is 3.5 and has never slept through.
Currently he's having a night terror around 11pm, and then awake at 1am, 3am (often for up to an hour), and then awake for the day at 5.45. DH and I are destroyed. I feel physically sick all the time I am so tired.

Is there really no answer apart from wait it out? We've tried gro-clocks, bribery, controlled crying, parental crying.....

So I'm really sorry to say that I don't know how long the waiting game might go on for if you wait it out.

OP, have you tried controlled crying at all? We found it did work, for stretches of time, up until he was coming up to 3. Past that, he was too sentient and feeling too many emotions, and also too physically strong and loud (he found his trunki and used it as a battering ram to get out of his room, and the neighbours complained about the noise).

At what point will you go to the doctor? I'm wondering if that's our next step.

Sending heartfelt sympathy your way, anyway.

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