Thursday, March 20, 2008

Selective Memory

I had an email from a friend asking about nightweaning, and Moxie has a post about sleep deprivation up today. Both the email and the comment that started the Moxie thread were from mothers of babies who are about 7 months old. This got me thinking about when Pumpkin was 7 months old, and I realized how selective my "day to day" memory is (by this I mean the memories that come to mind when I just casually think about Pumpkin, without specifically trying to remember details of a time period). My day to day memories are of all the good times, like the giggles when I finally figured out how to really play well with her (she did, and still does, love peekaboo, among other games). When I really think back, though, I have to say: months 6 to 9 were TOUGH, mostly due to sleep, or the lack thereof.

Pumpkin has never been a great sleeper, but boy, things got really bad when she was about 6 months old, and stayed pretty bad until she was about 9 months old. I look back and see that we were struggling through our great sleep experiment, in which we implemented some ideas from the No Cry Sleep Solution book, by Elizabeth Pantley. I remember leaving work early one day to drive to the book store and buy that book, and then reading it as quickly as I could, looking for some idea that would fix our problems. We had some success with some of the ideas, but she didn't (and still doesn't) sleep through the night. When she was about 9 months old, we nightweaned, and achieved results that made us positively giddy (not that she did, or does, sleep through the night). We've been at about that same place ever since. For anyone who finds this while searching for comfort or advice on how to handle a baby who won't sleep through the night, here are the details of where we are at:

Time asleep: between 7:30 and 8 (this depends on whether or not she falls asleep in the car on the way home from day care, which depends on whether or not she takes an afternoon nap, which depends on... who knows? Probably whether or not she's particularly enjoying the day care toys that day.)

Time awake: between 6 and 6:45, usually about 6:30. (This is the thing that makes me happiest. Some mornings, I even wake up before she cries, and get to lay there and doze like I did before I had a baby. Priceless.)

Night wakings: two or three. She usually wakes up between 11 and 12:30 and goes back down easily. Sometimes, she drops this waking, which would make us happy if we were awake to notice. Then she wakes up between 2 and 3:30, and Hubby tells me she is really hard to get down some nights. Then she wakes up at 4 or 4:30 and nurses (and she is amazingly happy to see me when I come to nurse her- she is so cute that I can't even think about dropping this feeding yet) and usually goes back down easily. Then she sleeps until 6 or 6:30.

Hubby usually takes the wakings before 4, because he's just a super guy. And because he can function pretty well with disrupted sleep as long as he gets enough total hours, while I need to get at least four uninterrupted hours to feel human.

One thing that strikes me looking at our current stats, above, and the stats in the last sleep experiment post, is that they aren't that different. One thing that has helped me immensely is that we have just accepted that our baby is not a good sleeper. We don't waste our energy trying to "fix" her sleep. Now we spend our energy finding ways to keep ourselves sane and reasonably healthy despite her less than ideal sleep habits.

This has been a rambling post, and it is bedtime, so I'm not going to fix that. But for everyone suffering through sleep hell with a baby who is between 6 and 9 months old... it gets better. And apparently, you then forget all about how bad it was.


  1. I think acceptance is the key. The problem with the books is they make you believe it's your fault your kid doesn't sleep well, or that you can make it better. In some cases you can but in some cases you can't. I tried everything by seven months, when I finally accepted that he's just a lousy sleeper and I may as well just do whatever I can to live with it. So I stuck him in the sling for naps and started blogging with him in the sling. And cosleeping... because he woke more frequently than your little one.

  2. Anonymous8:13 AM

    We have sleep issues too--not so much with the waking up, but more with the total number of hours. Rather than wondering what is wrong with my child that she sleeps so much less than "they" say she should at her age, simply accepting that she needs less sleep has helped us keep our sanity.

  3. Amen!

    Acceptance was what finally put me in a descent frame of mind and able to deal with the poor sleeper we have.

    As for the selective memory... when I wrote up my Pumpkin's year in review posts, I had to use some files I had saved from posts to my March-babies buddy group. I was amazed at how much I had blocked! I remember that it was bad, but I'd forgotten just how bad. Now, I'm trying to forget again so that I will want to have more kids. haha.


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