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20 months of seriously broken sleep - I need some perspective (and new solutions) please!

(9 Posts)
clemette Tue 15-Sep-09 12:39:32

My second child has never been keen on sleep. As a baby he always woke every 45 minutes through the night and I would feed him back to sleep. Until he was five months he would only sleep in my arms with me sitting up. At five months he was diagnosed with cow's milk protein intolerance which was thought to explain the very light sleeping. After I went on an exclusion diet and he was VERy gradually introduced to solids the intolerance seems to have righted itself but the sleep is still horrendous. I breastfed him until 15 months and all that time he woke every 45 minutes through the night and feeding was the only way to settle him. We did try everything else and even tried CC but it didn't work.
For the past five months (since stopping feeding him) it has got a little better and we are getting a stretch in the evening 7-12 but then he is unsettled for the rest of the night. He will only sleep if I am touching him in his cot (he won't sleep in our bed!!!) and if I try to sneak off when he is asleep he wakes again instantly and starts screaming.
I think I have reached the end of my patience with it. I was working, now studying full-time, and we have a four year old daughter. I am on my knees and have lost all perspective. We keep thinking it will gradually get better but it isn't and I don't know whether we need to "do" something. And if so, what? I won't leave him to cry, have exhausted all of Pantley's ideas and wondered if anyone had any?

clemette Wed 16-Sep-09 17:49:23


hillbilly Wed 16-Sep-09 17:56:20

Hi Clemette - I'm so sorry you are going through this. I can't really offer any advice (different sleep issues in my house) but wanted to send you a hug.

porcupine11 Wed 16-Sep-09 18:00:26

I was so against the leaving to cry, I wouldn't even consider it despite DS being awful awful sleeper, but when DS got to 10/11 months, one night we ended up trying it. I was pregnant again, going back to work, and just exhausted.

I knew he was well fed, warm, dry etc... the problem was, he didn't know how to get to sleep in the middle of the night unless he was breastfeeding. So we left him to cry, and yes it was stressful and upsetting, and he got angry with us, and we went in every 5 mins to pat him (so there was only 4 mins crying in a row max, which you might get when they are in the car seat), and then after about 45 mins, the crying got less, so we went in less frequently, and after 90 mins, he went to sleep. He only woke once that night, and cried for 10 mins (again with checks) and went to sleep. The next night we braced ourselves for the same... he slept through all night!!! He had learned how to get to sleep on his own, and this made him so happy - you could really see the difference when putting him down for the night. From then onwards, we have had many many nights where he hasn't cried out for us. Sometimes he still does, and we go to him and pat him/lie him down if he's sitting up, and repeat checking every 5 mins, but there has never, ever been angry hysterical crying like on the first night, because now he knows he's in control of his own sleep. All he wants to do when he wakes up tired in the middle of the night is go back to sleep, and now he can.

I'm glad I didn't do it sooner than I did, but I'm also glad I didn't leave it later. Maybe don't rule it out altogether though in the future, if you are feeling desperate like I was. It's not as bad as you might think.

clemette Wed 16-Sep-09 19:01:07

Thanks but it just doesn't work with him. The first time we tried it took 4 hours for him to go to sleep. The second night, exactly the same. The third would have been the same if we hadn't abandoned it.

CharCharGabor Wed 16-Sep-09 19:13:01

If it's any comfort, DD was a disgraceful sleeper right up until the week before she turned 2. She was up multiple times a night, sometimes staying up for hours at a time and spent most of the night bfing in my bed. The week before she turned 2 it was like a switch went off in her head. She started sleeping right through 12 hours and pretty much nightweaned herself. She occasionally wakes up for a quick drink of water now but gets herself back to sleep and doesn't bother me for the rest of the night. Hope it's a bit of comfort to you, your DS may settle down in the coming months.

clemette Wed 16-Sep-09 20:02:55

That is a great comfort- thank you. My instinct is to wait it out but my exhausted mind is scared that if I do nothing it will never improve!

bethdivine Wed 16-Sep-09 20:39:00

Echoing charchar, our DS got better at sleeping around 2yo (altho' I was settling him mid-contraction around 1.30am when I went into labour with DD!). sleep deprivation is hideous, I ended up on ADs after 18months (then pg the next month, so off them again!) and I found that it only got easier for me when I accepted that this was the situation we had and I couldn't change it over night, so just go with it. Once I accepted it, I suppose I started trying little things - e.g. we persevered with DH settling DS - up to that point, because of the BF link DH had never been able to settle him in the night, but if I knew he wasn't hungry, then there was no reason DH shouldn't be able to settle him - think one thing I did get from Pantley is that you're not leaving them to cry if they're being settled by somebody who loves them and knows them well. Once that change is accepted, slowly it should start to get better. - I take it he's still in your room? We didn't move DS til he was 11 months, as I was so tired I couldn't bear the thought of having to get up out of bed and physically move myself to another room. But again, with another change, it did start to get better when he wasn't right next to us.

I don't know if any of this will help - and what do I know...DD is now 22 wks and I'm back in sleep hell!

I feel your pain, hope it improves soon.

clemette Wed 16-Sep-09 21:21:07

Thanks bethdivine. He is actually in his own room and I have a rocking chair next to him where I sit for at least 90 minutes in the middle of the night patting him (grr).
I have got to the point where I avoid talking about his sleep to anyone I know who is pregnant as I worry it would just terrify them!!!

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