Sunday, April 1, 2012

No Sleep for the Shattucks

Our sleep deprivation continues.

It's gotten pretty bad in our household at night. During the day, things are great! At night, we go into survival mode.

Our sleep training with Jo helped a bit. A few weeks ago, she started to sleep a few hours at a time. That basically stopped after a few days, but we just stopped going to her. Well, not entirely. Andrew and I will go down to her every half hour or so and just tell her it's still bed time. The routine at our house became as follows: Down she'd go at 8pm, and then she'd wake up fussing around 10pm. She'd finally fall asleep and wake up at midnight. I'd change her diaper, nurse her, and put her back down. She'd cry for two hours (literally), with Andrew and me alternating going to her and patting/shushing her every 20-30 minutes. Around 2am, she'd finally crash out. She'd go down for a couple hours, wake for a while (more crying), and then go down for another short period. Every. Single. Night.

Andrew started to walk and talk in his sleep. That is, he'd talk nonsense to me. I could tell him to go do something simple, and he'd get up and do it and then just stand there until I told him to return to bed because
he was asleep. I could literally tell him to stand up, and he'd stand up. Later, he'd have no memory of those events. It was creepy.

I started to have middle of the night break downs. Andrew would talk to me, and I had no idea what he's saying. I could hear his words, and I understood he's talking to me, but I couldn't understand what he meant. At one point, it got so bad, that I started to scream. I literally had no idea why, but it was in response to Andrew trying to talk to me and not being able to understand the words coming out of his mouth.

We were (are?) literally going crazy from no sleep. It's been about three months of almost no sleep. Over the last four days, Andrew's had a grand total of about three hours.

It's so brutal.

Here's the thing. Over the last couple weeks, I started to take Jo to bed when Oliver woke up for the day around 6am. I'd let her nurse, and she'd fall asleep on her stomach. I'd lay there, semi-conscious, while making sure she was breathing. That started to be her only real stretch of sleep during the day, and she'd sleep for a few hours straight without making a peep.

Andrew and I had a heart to heart the other day. We basically agreed that we cannot continue with the sleep deprivation. We're literally breaking down mentally. We didn't have a plan, but we just knew it had to stop.

Last night, around 1:30am, Andrew decided to get up and carry Jo so the crying would stop so I could get a couple hours of sleep. I heard him pick her up, I heard her cries stop. As I started to drift off, I heard Andrew snoring loudly downstairs. I had this tired thought, "Why didn't Jo cry when Andrew put her back in her Pack 'N Play?" I jumped out of bed as it clicked in my head--he must not have put her down. I found him sitting propped up on the couch, asleep, with Jo pinned between his arm and the couch cushion. I grabbed her, and she started sobbing. I told Andrew that I'd had enough. At that moment, I made the decision to put Jo to bed on her stomach.

Putting babies to bed on their stomachs is a risk factor for SIDS. When the "Back to Sleep" program started, SIDS deaths decreased by half. I've read a few reasons for that. It could be that babies' bodies aren't always strong enough to breathe with the weight of their bodies on their lungs. It could be that carbon dioxide pools in front of their faces. It could be that they sleep too soundly on their stomachs. Whatever the reason, it's a risk factor. Here's the thing. Babies who normally sleep on their backs are at an especially increased risk for SIDS when they are put to sleep on their stomachs. That's why they tell parents it's so important to communicate to grandparents to always put their babies to sleep on their backs.

It's a risk factor, but we were at the point where we were out of options. Our sleep deprivation literally couldn't continue. We were becoming a risk to her anyway because of our lack of sleep. That was apparent from Andrew falling asleep while holding her.

I put Jo down on her stomach, and she fell asleep immediately. There was no crying or fussing. Just sleep. I made sure her head was turned completely to the side. I made sure the mat she was sleeping on wasn't bunched at all or depressed by the weight of her head. Andrew pulled out the box fan and turned it on to keep air circulating. Then, he had me go upstairs and get some sleep, and he agreed to check on her every so often to make sure she kept on breathing. Jo slept from about 2am to 7am without any wake ups or fussing. It was a miracle.

Unfortunately, we still didn't get sleep. Oliver, for whatever reason, started to wake up at 4:30am every half hour. His wakings helped make sure we were awake for the rest of the morning to keep checking on Jo, but I was heartbroken that my chance to finally sleep was dissolved because of a bad night from our toddler.

Tonight, at bed time, we put Jo back to sleep on her stomach. She fell asleep at 7:30pm. It's 10pm now, and I've been going and checking on her every half hour while Andrew sleeps. She seems to be doing just fine, and she hasn't made a sound. It's a miracle.

Oliver was about six or seven months old when we started to let him sleep on his stomach. Once he was old enough to roll over, we let him choose his sleep position. Joanna's nearly five months old, so she's definitely younger than Oliver was. It scares me so much, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that there's a part of me that's hysterical and giddy over the idea of getting a night's sleep. I don't feel comfortable going to sleep yet. I'm not sure what my plan is to sleep while she sleeps on her stomach. I might wait until she wakes up for her feeding, and then wake Andrew up to trade me. I don't know what else to do, but I'm so glad that he's finally getting sleep.

I'm sorry if this post doesn't make much sense. I'm definitely not at a point where I can organize my thoughts, so this is just being written as I think it. I'm scared that I'm taking a risk with my baby. At the same time, I truly don't know what other options we have at this point.

Edit: I decided to search through my posts on Oliver. I swear, I'm so glad that I've made this blog to record my parenting choices and experiences. It's been a great reference to me. Apparently, Oliver was about Jo's age when we started letting him sleep on his stomach. He wasn't quite 5 months old. Of course, we let him sleep on his stomach because he flipped over himself. With Jo, it seems different to put her on her stomach myself. Still, I feel better knowing that this is when Oliver started to sleep on his stomach. I think I'll continue with a couple more nights of little sleep to keep making sure she's OK, and then I'll let myself catch up on my large sleep debt.

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