Thursday, 7 August 2008

Oh sleep, where art thou?

I think I can now be classed as an expert on sleep. Although there is very little of it happening at our house, at least I can tell you the cycles of sleep, how and why we do it, patterns of good sleep habits, and a hundred different ways to get your child to sleep. And yet I still can't get Caleb to sleep.

A friend of ours is a sleep trainer. People pay her big money to come their homes and stay overnight and train their babies to sleep well. She has witnessed Caleb fussing and crying week after week in church, and reached out to us in sympathy. We've had numerous conversations and I filled out a sleep log for Caleb, recording his sleep time, awake time, and when he feeds. There were 5 simple symbols to record on an hourly basis. I laughed when I gave her the log, because the thing looked like hieroglyphics! In each little box I had sometimes scribbled 10 or 12 symbols, as Caleb would go down, get up, go down, get up, cry, sleep and eat like a madman.

She mulled over our conversations and the log and concluded: this was like nothing she'd ever encountered yet. She said this will be excellent experience for her. Even if we weren't friends, she would have taken the case pro bono! She is currently doing some research to see if she can find something to help Caleb. But her initial "diagnosis" was that most likely Caleb is extremely intelligent. He is processing everything around him and unable to turn it off.

I've read nearly every sleep book out there. We've tried all the methods. I've studied all the case studies. I am a little frustrated, however, because all the books simply assume that their method will work, just like that. There is no "but if this fails, try..." But I also haven't found any examples of Caleb's behaviour.

His problem is that he just doesn't want to sleep. Even with me in the room, he cries and cries when we try to put him down to sleep. Every sleep book out there talks about how a baby is conditioned to need you to help get to sleep. The problem is that not even I can help him sleep. Even bringing him in bed with me doesn't get him to sleep. He has never slept anywhere but in his crib. He has never gone to sleep without crying and fussing first. He has never worn himself out crying. He has never fallen asleep in my arms (which I really miss!). He never just lies in bed crying - he throws himself around the crib, thrashing about, or stands himself up. Even when his poor eyes are red and half closed, he struggles to his feet and hangs on for dear life to the crib rail. Yesterday I hoped if I just sat in the room with him he would calm down at my presence. No such luck.

Once he's asleep he's fine. He has slept several 4 hour stretches. He does normally take two naps a day. He does go to sleep around 7am. Some of the things I've read certainly have helped in certain ways. The funny thing is that all these sleep books tend to be about getting your baby to sleep through the night. I'm not concerned about that at all. I just want to get him to be able to fall asleep without an hour of coaxing. I don't mind getting up at 11pm and 2am and 5am if I can get him back to sleep in a few minutes and crawl back into bed. But being up for hours in the middle of the night is really trying!

Please excuse the rant. A writer's prerogative, I guess. I always find it helps to get everything out "on paper". I know these days won't last forever and a beautiful dreamy sleep will find my again one day. And please feel free to call for any sleep advice for your own little bambino. I'm a regular sleep encyclopedia these days!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm beginning to think Shea and Caleb are the opposites of each other in many ways. Shea GOES to sleep very easily, I either nurse him or rock him (or sometimes just hold him and give him a pacifier) and he goes to sleep. Even if he's fighting sleep and crying, it still almost always takes 10 minutes or less. It's getting him to STAY asleep for more than an hour, and stay in his crib that is the issue.
I'm trying to think of things we tried for kids at the daycare who had trouble getting to sleep. I most worked with toddlers, some of whom refused to get on their beds at all, but what I used with them wouldn't work on an infant.....Rocking does nothing? If Shea is fighting sleep, I retrain his arms with one arm while cradling him with the other, turn him into my body (basically immobilize him as much as possible. With the toddlers, I used to put one arm over them such that all my weight was on my arm, not them, but they couldn't get up. Once they realized they couldn't get up 9 times out of 10 they gave up and went to sleep. It saved me wrestling them to get back to bed, which always made me nervous. I should qualify that this makes some children clausterphobic, and I would not use this method with those children, I was not out to panic them :)). Anyway, with Shea, and several babies I've worked with, I found that holding them closely, tightly, and into my body while they squirmed and I rocked them helped. By the sounds of it, this does not work with Caleb, but in case you haven't tried it.
I have heard some controversial things about giving melatonin to children with sleep difficulties. I have in no uncertain terms never researched it, just heard it's been done, so you might want to look into it as a last resort.
How long does it take to get him to sleep with your help (rocking, rubbing his back, etc.)? There are some kids at the daycare that it was a fight EVERY DAY at naptime. We just had to accept that there would be screaming for the first 20 minutes of naptime (and he was 9 other kids to get to sleep at the same time. Thankfully, many of them learned to just ignore it). With them, it may have been a power struggle as they were not much younger than Colin (18-24 months), but it was a fight every day with some kids. I never learned a better way to deal with it than just accept the fight (we weren't allowed to rock them, etc., we were limited to rubbing backs).
Seeing as I struggled with sleep issues before having Shea, and am now getting sleep in 30-120 minute intervals, I'm of little help on the subject, but hopefully you find something that works!!