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Would like to help my friend, not sure what to suggest

21 replies

Melly · 16/01/2003 16:18

I have a good friend at work who is having a tough time at the moment. I would dearly like to help in some way but can't come up with any fresh ideas. In brief, she works full-time, her ds is nearly 12 months and has not slept more than a few hours since birth. She was very interested to hear how I got on with my dd when I was mat leave and I told her about GF and how it had worked for me but certainly doesn't suit everyone etc etc. I ended up buying her the book as she expressed an interest in trying the routines. Anyway, i think she has found the feeding and weaning advice in the CLBB very helpful but cannot sort out his sleeping at all. She knows full well that my dd is a good sleeper 12-13 hours per night etc but I always try to play this down and never appear smug about it, which i'm not, I do think she is a baby who loves her kip (like me).
Anyway, my friend looks so dog tired all the time, her husband isn't particularly supportive and I think she is maybe getting depressed. She has a very supportive family but it's the lack of sleep that is getting her down.
Has anyone got any ideas or suggestions. I always listen to her and try to come up with helpful suggestions. I don't think the days are a problem, it's just the nights. Can anyone recommend any books that she could read on sleep problems?

OP posts:

mckenzie · 16/01/2003 16:32

hi Melly

Your friend is lucky to have someone like you.
I don't know of any books and dont really have naythign helpful to suggest. Is your friend able to let her ds stay with grandmother/godmother or similar one night to give her a break and also see if sleeping elsewhere breaks the pattern. Have you tried asking her outright if she would like some help with the sleep problem, even right back to basics where she tells you exactly what happens, what her routine is like word for word, so that you, as a fresh pair of eyes/ears can try and see what, if anything, could be changed.

My sister's first ds was pretty much nocturnal but as this was way back when my ds wasn't even a twinkle in my eye I have no idea if I could have helped her in any way other than as a supportive voice at the other end of the phone and youare obviously being that for her.

Would she hate it if you spoke to her mother/sister to see if they, like you, are also concerned about her.
Hopefully, someone else will reply with a good sleep book but my comment about her basic routine is just because i heard a story the other day about a mum complaining that her ds was so bad at going back to sleep if she stirred in the night and it turned out that whenever the mum entered the nursery she turned the main light on and spoke to the child in her normal voice. I'm sure your friend isn't doing anything like that but just might be worth checking.


Scatterbrain · 16/01/2003 16:33

I'm not sure if it's another book she needs really Melly !

Are you quite good friends ? I just wonder if you could do her the huge favour of letting her get some sleep by maybe offering to do the night-shift for her occassionally ? Or maybe suggest that she asks someone else to do that for her ?

When I was really really knackered that was all I wanted - was someone I trusted to say - "go to bed - shut the door - I'll look after her for you" - of course no-one, not even dh did, but it was my absolute dream !!! Now I find out that you can actually get night nannies to do it on a one-off basis !!


mam · 16/01/2003 16:46

probably a useless suggestion but... do you work somewhere where at lunchtime (if you manage one!) could go off to a quiet room and just put her feet up, even if not sleeping just a quiet 30-60 mins might be a god send. Not really wanting to reveal too much here (otherwise I might as well give my name!) but a few office workers really helped me out in a similar fashion once and it really helped plus their kindness was a real god-send perhaps more than they realise though I've told them often enough! Sorry if it's a stupid idea.


Lindy · 16/01/2003 17:05

This is probably stating the obvious but has she attempted the 'controlled crying' routine - Christopher Green's book describes it really well. I do appreciate that some parents just can't bear to do this - a very good friend of mine has a nearly 2 year old who just won't go through the night without 3/4 wake-ups & coming into mum & dad's bed - but they just can't bear the thought of the cc routine (not like heartless me!!).


Lucy123 · 16/01/2003 17:09

How long has she been trying GF? It can take a while ...

Anyway there are some excellent suggestions in the NCT Book of Sleep - in particular it details a few gentler alternatives to controlled crying. Maybe that's worth a look.


Marina · 16/01/2003 17:43

Melly, as well as some of the books suggested here (Ferber, Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, is also good), I wonder whether it is worth her talking to her GP or HV. Babies who have sleep problems can sometimes be referred to a specialist sleep clinic - or she could consider cranial osteopathy for her ds. I know of several people whose children (and fatigue) were helped greatly by this therapy.
Also endorse the suggestion of a nap at lunchtime. I bet your friend is probably doing what the rest of us do and haring around the shops in her lunch break buying nappies, loo roll, spuds, etc. If she could have a power nap instead...
I have every sympathy. Ds has probably slept through the night ten times in his entire life (he's three and a half). Like me he is a light sleeper, but at least his waking now consists of trotting into our room, hopping up between us and going straight back to sleep. That I can live with...but the first year was grim.


futurity · 16/01/2003 17:59

I had a similar situation in that a friend of mine ds wasn't a good sleeper...wouldn't sleep during the day and screamed at night time (also about 12 months old). I leant her Ferber book and when I saw her a week or so later she was so happy! Needless to say that had to do cc but it had worked and after 6 nights the baby slept all the way through and had even started to have a nap in the day. Like your friend she was also working and had struggled to keep going. So that is a thumbs up here for Ferber!


Katherine · 16/01/2003 18:25

Have to say I found the controlled crying thing a bit extreme and it didn't really work for us. But we have had various sleeping problems over the years and just getting tough eventually does work. I'm not suggesting leaving them to cry it out - some babies just get hysterical and the parents can't sleep through the noise anyway, but if she gets a bit tougher and doesn't rush to her little one straight away then she might be surpised that she doesn't need to at all. I found that going to both of mine but not picking them up, just talking (and eventually groaning from across the room really helped). They both fed every 2-3 hrs until almost 1yr at which point I was exhausted so just dropped the feeds and they were fine. Some babies are good sleeepers and some are not but I don't think any parent can cope with prolonged lack of sleep indefinitly. Taking the child for the night will be magical but will not solve the problem and your friend may wake from habit anyway. Although it can be really hard to take action when you wake up all groggy it does pay off eventually.


Melly · 16/01/2003 21:00

Thanks everyone for your ideas and suggestions, I really appreciate it.

It's quite difficult getting the balance right isn't it, I don't want my friend to think that I'm interfering but on the other hand I can see how worn out and down she is getting because of her lack of sleep, and I hate seeing her like that. I don't think her dh has got up once in the night to give her a break in the last 12 months and to make matters worse, I think she is quite prepared to give controlled crying a go, but he moans at her saying ds is keeping him awake! I think their differing opinions on how to approach the problem of ds not sleeping is at the root of things and I certainly don't know her dh well enough to try chatting to him about it.

McKenzie I think you may be right that there is probably something in her basic routine with ds that may be contributing to the problem, I've tried delving a bit and think he may be over tired when he goes to bed (which is about 9 pm I think).

Scatterbrain, I think you are also right in that another book wouldn't necessarily sort out the problem, but something that did occur to me is that if someone lent her a book or even bought her one on sleep problems it may just jolt her dh and make him wake up to the fact that there is a problem - it sounds to me as if he just thinks it's her problem and that she has to sort it out, it probably doesn't occur to him that he is a major factor in all of it.

I think I will maybe suggest a couple of the books that have been mentioned here and continue to be there for her whenever she needs to talk. I only work two days a week but we always meet up for coffee on the days I work and I offer as much support as I can. She generally emails me afterwards to say how she appreciates me listening etc but that chokes me because I feel so helpless. I have also bought her flowers a few times to cheer her up but I know this is no substitute for a good night's kip.
Thanks again for everyone's replies.

OP posts:

Batters · 16/01/2003 21:17

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Marina · 17/01/2003 11:22

And how nice to have a friend in the workplace who really understands her! Lucky friend.


Scatterbrain · 17/01/2003 11:29

Hi Melly, what a lovely friend you are ! I wish I worked with you !!

Sounds as though your friend's dh does need a jolt to make him realise that a) it's his problem too and b) it's a solveable problem. It's so tricky isn't it - I think the best thing you can do is get your friend all fired up about controlled crying, lend her the books and encourage her to work on her dh.

To a lesser degree I had similar probs with my dh - he would cave in after 5 mins and bring dd into our bed until I had a bit of a wobbley-strop one day ! They definitely both need to be singing from the same hymn sheet or their child will just be confused and/or play one off against the other. He also had muffley ears for a long time and rarely got out of bed - but I suddenly caught his muffley ears and now he probably gets up more than I do !! Ho Ho

Good Luck & well done for being such a nice friend !


berries · 17/01/2003 13:25

Melly, how about booking a nice girls weekend away. This could serve 2 functions, 1 - she could get a couple of nights kip and 2 - her dh wouldn't get any & then he may be more willing to try another method.
Oh, not wanting to seem pessimistic, but cc doesn't always work. My dd could scream for 4 hours non-stop. She just doesn't seem to need the sleep. I also worked, but pt, but had toddler as well, and no family near by. I would definately have appreciated some time away. I'm sure that just talking to you helps a lot. Does she post on Mmsnet - sometimes just knowing other people are going/went through it, and survived, helps a lot.


mam · 17/01/2003 15:57

Melly I endorse what's been said before - you sound like a great friend and that in itself will be a god-send at such a difficult time believe me! So don't put whatever help you offer down. She's lucky to have a friend like you and especially in the workplace.


Melly · 18/01/2003 14:05

Thanks for the messages and replies. Am off out this pm so will look for a book for her which might help, will also talk to her next week and suggest some of the things that have been mentioned here on this thread.
Thanks again everyone for taking the time to post your suggestions.

OP posts:

robinw · 18/01/2003 17:59

message withdrawn


Jimjams · 18/01/2003 23:26

robinw- I swear by cranial, not so much for my own children (although it has helped clear chest mucus in a quite stunning fashion), but the difference in a friend's child after one session. It was ridiculous. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I wouldn't have believed it.

I'd recommend it to anyone. Best to get a recommendation. If not contact the Sutherland Society.


CER · 19/01/2003 22:53

Melly, Does your friend feed her ds when he wakes? I have always fed my 16 month old ds at night. He started sleeping through at 8 months, then stopped again at 12 months and started waking up more and more frequently until a few weeks ago it was every 3 hours. I felt like a had a newborn again and was totally exhausted.

I didn't fancy cc so started to give him a bottle of water instead of feeding him. It has worked wonders and he's generally sleeping through again now. The first couple of nights were a bit tough as he would moan for quite a while after being given the water. I think he was probably hungry as he was used to being fed so often, but then he just started eating more during the day. HTH


Melly · 22/01/2003 16:18

Robinw, I wouldn't dream of making any suggestions to my friend if I hadn't first listened to her and found out what she has already tried, but I do take your point about how ratty you can get when totally exhausted. Luckily my friend always seems really keen to try anything new and seems genuinely grateful for any advice or a sympathetic ear.
CER - yes maybe she could try offering some water, it may well help even if it doesn't completely resolve the problem.

Anyway, an update on the situation is that after I saw my friend at work yesterday, I was even more worried about her. She looks tired, pale and generally exhausted and very unhappy. We had a really long talk and I persuaded her to see her GP. Upshot is that she saw him this morning and he was brilliant, very sympathetic and understanding, said that she needs to be signed off work for at least a month to sort herself out. My friend rung me afterwards, very tearful, but I think very relieved and I think at long last she can get the opportunity of sorting her ds's routine/sleeping without the added pressure of having to work full-time as well.
Thanks again to everyone who has posted suggestions.

OP posts:

Bozza · 22/01/2003 16:27

Well hopefully Melly if her DS is still in child-care she should be able to catch up on sleep as a starting point and then work on sorting the routine out. But if the doctor is taking it this seriously it sounds like she must be in a bad way.


Hilary · 23/01/2003 20:41

A good book for us was 'Silent nights - overcoming sleep problems in babies and children' by Brian Symon

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