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I behaved terribly to dd last night - please help me not to do it again.

(28 Posts)
kenobi Thu 09-Jun-11 13:33:31

DD has never been a good sleeper, but the last few nights have taken the biscuit. On Sat night she woke at midnight and didn't go back to sleep until 4am, then up at 6am. Unsurprisingly she wanted to nap by 9am.

On Sun and Mon night she was up for 1.5 hours then awake and ready to go at 5am. Tues for 2 hours, up at 6am and last night for nearly 3 hours (up at 6.40am). I was so shattered I am ashamed to say that after about 1.5 hours I just ignored her. I just lay there listening to her howling and calling for me until she fell asleep, feeling utterly angry and bitter. What a miserable, heartless bitch I am.

I have a very full-on work day today then after it I have an evening presentation so on 4 hours sleep last night I have a 13-hour working day - though this isn't usual - normally I am there to get her up and put her to bed every night - I see her for about 3 hours a day.

She doesn't appear to be in pain (three premolars have come through and it was very obvious - red cheeks and drool central). I checked her nappy - she often poos at night and she has to be changed, but nothing. No signs of pain, fever, cuts, scratches, anything really. She gets tired really early the next day so I think she needs more sleep than the 9 or so hours she's getting at the mo.

She is delighted to see me at night and tries to engage me in conversation, waving teddies at me and acting as if it's morning. If I try to lie her back down and settle her she gets furious and pushes me away, whining. If I leave she gets even more upset - of course - full-on drumming-the-heels tantrums.

What the hell is going on, and what do I do? I am worried that if i stay with her until she falls asleep she will expect that all the time and it's simply not feasible, plus my presence seems to excite her. I have tried the 'be boring' advice every night so far but it makes no odds. I don't think anything strange is going on during the day (we have had the same carer since I went back to work, and she adores dd) so what is it?

I am so tired I'm not speaking sense (I just asked my coworker if she would like 'a glass of snake' instead of 'a slice of cake'). I just can't function like this - I'm failing as mum and worker at the mo.

Any advice gratefully received.

rubyslippers Thu 09-Jun-11 13:35:08

How old is she?

You aren't heartless or a bitch - you do sound exhausted thought and intense sleep deprivation is the pits

kenobi Thu 09-Jun-11 13:37:40

I feel heartless - so cruel not to go to her but I was so angry I would have shouted.

Sorry, yes - she's 18 months old, and an utterly normal little darling/demon other than this.

rubyslippers Thu 09-Jun-11 13:41:44

Hmmm - my DD is 18 months and bedtimes have been challenging for a while now

She stands up and calls for me, calls for "du du" (milk) and on and on .... It is wearing

I think 18 months is a classic developmental time which can send their sleep haywire ... They are walking, talking, self feeding etc etc all of which takes huge amounts of brain power ,,,

I have been feeding her to sleep basically - I don't worry about the future - she used to self soothe, and I assume she will do again when she is through this phase

Do you have any help at all?

TheRhubarb Thu 09-Jun-11 13:42:54

You need a routine.

Get into a habit of giving her a soothing bath an hour before bedtime, then a snuggle with you and some stories with a glass of warm milk, then bed.

If she wakes up, go in and say firmly "it's still bedtime" and then go out again. Keep doing this if you have to, eventually she'll realise that you are not going to give her any more attention than that and she'll fall asleep. This could take up to 4 days however.

She's got into a habit of waking up and knowing that you will come running to provide entertainment and lots of attention. You need to break the habit for your own mental and physical health. It may seem a little cruel and there are plenty of mumsnetters who would put her in their bed and never leave a baby to cry, but I believe that a happy mother equals a happy baby and if you are tired and stressed then you are not spending quality time with her and you both lose out.

Parietal Thu 09-Jun-11 13:54:04

Agree with rhubarb.

This is part of an 18 month sleep regression and will pass but a routine will help. We also had a 5 min rule - whenever DD cries on the night, wait 5 mins before going in. Then she learns you will come if it matters, but she won't bother crying if she doesn't really really need you.

Flippingebay Thu 09-Jun-11 14:00:35

Sleep deprivation is utterly horrid and no, you are not being a bitch!! Not in the slightest.

Mine did the same, as others have said it seems to be a developmental stage around 18 months.

When mine started I'd go in after 5 minutes, then extend the time I went in by 10 minutes, so I'd then wait 10 mins before going in, then 20, then 30 etc.. I'd find the first night it would take 1.5 hours for her to go back to sleep, then the next night about an hour, then the night after that 20 minutes, and after that she was fine and sooth herself. But you really need to be strong and stick to it. The minute I deviated from that routine she'd be back waking and wailing for hours on end.

Good luck, and is there anyone who can help, look after her whilst you get some sleep?

doodleduck Thu 09-Jun-11 14:02:04

Agree with Rhubarb completely. 18 month old needs a routine and some controlled crying. She will get the message. She (and you) will be a happier person for it! Good luck!

kenobi Thu 09-Jun-11 14:31:23

you're all being so nice.. sob. I had NO idea there was a 18 m sleep regression.

We have (had?) a really solid routine, one that has seen me through all kinds. 20 mins of Peppa Pig, bath, bottle, 2 or 3 books, snuggle, kiss DD, kiss Mr bun bun, night night. But she has started screaming when I put her down as well, so may be I need to tweak that? In fact it took about 30 mins of screaming to get her to go to sleep on Mon night. Christ, looking at it all written down, its horrible.

We did sleep training when she was 12 months, much against my desire but after 3 months of illness she was asking for 3 bottles of milk a night (before her illness she'd been sleeping beautifully with the above routine). So you think I should do it full-on again?

My Dh is really brilliant but he is sick at the mo and also works vicious hours four days a week - his job makes mine look like Sunday school, and I'm quite senior (the other day, friday, he is a sahd), so I don't like bothering him at night.

TheRhubarb Thu 09-Jun-11 14:46:52

They do go through phases of growth spurts and so on that can affect their sleep patterns. Trouble is that once you get into the habit of going to them, then it's very hard to break it. The trick is to stick to your guns. They may need a little extra reasurrance before bed and perhaps for you to stick your head around the door a couple of times, but make it a rule not to go further or 2 weeks later you'll be like Night of the Walking Dead.

kenobi Thu 09-Jun-11 15:16:26

Hi Rhubarb, that's one of things I'm worried about. But I can't leave her to scream for hours and hours. Apart from anything else the neighbours will kill me - their bedroom is next to DD's.

CatIsSleepy Thu 09-Jun-11 15:26:30

hmm, trying to think...dd2 had a funny phase a while ago, she didn't want to nap on her own or go to sleep at night on her own, she would have been somewhere between 18m and 2 yrs

so for her afternoon nap i would lie down on dd1's bed (dd1 and 2 share a room) and stay there til dd2 fell asleep, at night she was ok as long as dd1 went to bed at the same time (so you could try staying with her til she goes to sleep). I remember dd1 had a similar sort of phase too. It passed after a few weeks.

Actually dd1 had another mini phase over easter, i put it down to us being away and this unsettling her. This time she woke up during the night and screamed blue murder, we ended up having to take her into bed with us. It went on for 2 weeks or so in the end, not every night but maybe every other night and then just stopped. It happened again once or twice more recently too. Have stopped worrying about the implications of her getting used to coming into our bed, i think sometimes (not very often really), she just needs a bit of extra comfort at night.

TheRhubarb Thu 09-Jun-11 16:13:05

She won't scream for hours.

Do as flippingebay suggests and go in after 5 mins, then 10, then 15. She did go to sleep after you left her didn't she? And she will again. There is nothing cruel about letting them cry for a little while, what is cruel is denying her some quality mummy time because you're too exhausted to cope.

I did this with my ds. It was tough because at the time the focus was very much on never letting baby cry etc etc, but like yours he was waking up 5 or 6 times a night for no particular reason and I was shattered. I put this plan into practice and after 3 days he was waking once or twice and then settling quickly back down. My only regret was that I didn't start it sooner.

Notanexcitingname Thu 09-Jun-11 17:42:11

I'm going to completely disagree here, and say you can't possibly do controlled crying on a child who may have a dirty nappy. Once changed, maybe.

Pooing at night isn't actually normal though, and in our case was a feature in diagnosing DS2's food allergies. He was often up for hours at night, and once his diet was adjusted, he wasn't.

A possibility?

TheRhubarb Thu 09-Jun-11 19:45:22

Oh she's pooing? I didn't read that. Get an appt with the GP to check out for any allergies or underlying problem. Have you changed her diet?

kenobi Thu 09-Jun-11 22:38:36

I did wonder about the pooing - it's very obvious when she has as she starts saying ''wee wee! wee wee!" which is her catch-all for a dirty nappy - I wouldn't leave her to cry if there was a reason, no matter how tired I was (it is the inexplicableness of her crying that is killing me).
But that's not it - I change her very promptly if she's pooed and she's always gone straight back to sleep. I was more going through the process of the checking I did to try and explain that it wasn't anything like that.

But very interesting to hear it's not normal to poo at night...

What am I doing still up??? I am in some weird over-awake exhaustion zone at the moment. Also dreading going to bed as it means the night shift starts. Shall I take bets on how many hours she's up tonight?!

Thank you everyone. I'll see how tonight goes and be firm but even more boring and sleepy.

AngelDog Thu 09-Jun-11 23:24:07

Yes, the 18 month sleep regression is really common. One developmental psychologist refers to the 18-21 month period as 'the mother of all developmental transitions'.

You can read more about it here and here and here.

Sleep training of whatever sort is less likely to be successful during a sleep regression period, since even children who can 'self-settle' suddenly have difficult going to sleep, and may wake frequently or be up for long spells at night during sleep regressions. That's not to say you can't try it (although I'm not a fan myself) but don't be too depressed if it doesn't work at the moment.

Most of the advice from people who've come out the side tends to be 'do whatever you can to get as much sleep as you can for as many of your family as you can' until the developmental leap is over and

Separation anxiety often also peaks around 18 months too.

I've always found that when DS is AWAKE in the night he will usually get drowsy exactly 1.5 hours after waking. There's supposed to be some biological basis to this. If he needs help to go back to sleep (which he does if teething, for example) then if I miss the 1.5 hour point, it is often another 1.5 hours before he gets drowsy again.

I'd definitely get the poo thing checked out though - DS has only pooed at night when ill (eg V&D bug) since he was about 8 months old.

AngelDog Thu 09-Jun-11 23:25:41

Oh, and all of us have been in the situation of getting seriously angry with our DC in the small hours of the morning. I did it myself a week or so ago when DS was up for between 2 and 4 hours every night for a fortnight (teething + 17 month developmental spurt in this instance). So don't beat yourself up about it. smile

skybluepearl Fri 10-Jun-11 13:27:40

you sound like a lovely mum trying just to do her best. follow lots of the sleep training advice above and also get yourself some ear plugs. you will still be able to hear her crying but you won't stir at the slightest whimper.

do all the normal things - change a pooy nappy, keep the lights off, use blackout blinds, give her a special bed time toyetc ..

AngelDog Fri 10-Jun-11 20:34:11

Just popping back to add that DS has done that WIDE AWAKE thing in the night for every developmental spurt from 4 months onwards (he's now 17 months). He's never been a 'good' sleeper, and patterns of frequent waking have continued after the developmental leaps unless I used ideas from the No-Cry Sleep Solution to help him stay asleep between sleep cycles.

However, those long periods awake at night have always disappeared on their own and with no intervention from me at all. I've not tried overly hard to be 'boring' - I'd always feed him, generally do a nappy change and might rock him in the chair / lie with him in bed, or if he's really cross, even read books by a nightlight or talk to him. None of that has prevented those wakings disappearing once the developmental leap is over.

kenobi Thu 23-Jun-11 12:00:31

Thanks again everyone for you help. We went on hols last week and she slept amazingly, though getting her to go to bed was a nightmare - there were 8 adults in the house and she wasn't prepared to leave the fun, no matter how tired she was. It was an incredible respite and I had a great week with DD.

We are now back in London and the fun has started again - it has been ramping up day on day. She's now 19 mo so I'm just hoping we can hold out for a few more weeks before she reverts to normal again.

Angeldog - those links are your comments are keeping me sane! Thank you.

However there is one thing that worries me - I work ft (both necessity and choice). Is there a possibility that she's got worse again because she had me all week, then I disappeared during the day again?
Not that I can do a great deal about it other than feel guilty... sad

MumblingRagDoll Thu 23-Jun-11 12:11:45

God God you shouldn't be doing 13 hour days and then torturing yourself with this! I feel bad for you! Can you take any leave at all? Are you full time? You obviously need a restt. sad

kenobi Thu 23-Jun-11 12:25:22

Hi Mumbling - I'm okay honestly, though 2 weeks ago when I first made this post I was almost crying at the keyboard with relief that a) people were listening and giving advice and b) total exhaustion.

I'm just vacillating between the idea of sleep training and getting her back to sleep by any means neccessary - need to make a decision!

MumblingRagDoll Thu 23-Jun-11 12:32:42

Didnt notice your last post! grin Glad you're feeling better....but you have to try and grab some time for sleep on a regular basis. I do it too I know how easy it is to work and work and work and not notice you're knackered out untill you begin saying/doing odd things like offering a glass of snake! grin

steben Thu 23-Jun-11 12:57:18

Agree with Rhubarb and have nothing to add other posters have not said - however just want to say I wrote a similar post not so long ago when DD was up at 4am and i thought i was going mad! I too behaved badly and felt SO awful about it so we have all been there. Hope things get better.

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