The funny thing about having a baby again is that everyone I see asks me if I am getting any sleep at all which seems to be the standard question all people ask parents of babies. Ironically, Owen has been sleeping through the night since he was 10 weeks old. Charlie did the same thing, sleeping 12 hours straight at 13 weeks old. I admit to being a bit of a stickler when it came to sleep training and it was not always easy but I felt in the long run it would be worth it for both those little men and for my husband and me. Somewhere along the line, at about 2.5 years old. Charlie stopped sleeping through the night……and that streak continues every single night.
At first, his night wakings were funny and made us laugh. He would wake up at around 3am in his crib and sing, play, dance. He never cried, never called for us, just simply had a good time in his crib for about an hour or so until eventually he fell back to sleep. Then we moved him out of the crib and into his bed and new room just before the baby arrived this past summer and apparently we did not consider the transition process as much as we should have! He hated the bed, hated the room and screamed a lot about it those first few weeks. We tried everything we could think of, had heard of, had been told to do from our friends, had read about online and in books; we laid down in bed with him, we sat on the floor of his room and then moved to the hallway and then the top of the stairs but nothing worked. He knew we would run to him if he called and the knowledge of our presence made him smarter than us in this nightly game. Eventually, I threw in the towel and decided it was time to go cold turkey because I know deep down that Charlie was fully aware of what we were trying to achieve and in a sense he was playing us (he is a smart little one). So we installed a baby gate on his bedroom doorframe, put him to bed and left. I will not lie, it was awful. My stomach was in knots for those first few nights listing to him cry and yell and scream and try to get out of the room. Eventually he would give up and we would find him asleep on the floor with a pillow by the gate. I felt like the worst mom in the history of moms. But after about 10 days of this type of behavior (and it lessened daily), it was done. Charlie goes to bed eagerly, kisses us good night and goes to sleep.
Now you must be wondering where the sleep deprivation comes in and this is the struggle. For every night as far back as I can think of right now, Charlie wakes up at 2 or 3AM and has a full fledged party in his room for an hour or two. It is loud!!! He sings, plays, recites or scripts his favorite Mickey shows or Toy Story movie. He doesn’t try to get out of his room, he isn’t calling for Mom or Dad and he definitely is not interested in coming to sleep in our bed (we have tried it). We have also tried laying in his bed with him, telling him he has to keep it down and that its night time, closing doors, opening doors, melatonin, later bed times, earlier bed times, extreme activity in the hours leading up to bed, more quiet time before bed – pretty much whatever anyone or any book has recommended….to no avail. So here we stand. The good news for my husband and baby is that they are both very sound sleepers and barely register the commotion that goes on in our home nightly; I, on the other hand, wake up every single time and many nights trudge downstairs in hopes that if I sleep on the couch I may not hear him (but I do hear him). I feel so bad for Charlie because getting sleep is so very important for children (and adults) but I am at a loss on what to do. After our night last night, being up from 12-3AM I am considering contacting a sleep disorder clinic for children so perhaps they will offer a solution.
Children with neurological issues often have challenges both in going to sleep and staying asleep. In addition, people with ADHD often have a hard time sleeping as well. Charlie struggles with both of these and I can certainly relate to his struggle as an adult with ADHD who wakes up frequently and rarely naps no matter how exhausted I may be. I know for me personally, the ADD impacts me in that my brain and body are always on the go and this makes settling down and staying settled down very difficult.
I fully realize that our situation is not that unique; every one of my friends complains about their young children’s sleeping habits and we have been very blessed with two great sleepers as babies. Complaining about the situation certainly doesn’t help and I fully anticipate this nightly waking as part of our normal routine; in fact, I think if we all slept through the night I would be in shock. So for the time being, we will try to smile and laugh at the antics that take place across the hall nightly, the singing, yelling, jumping which still don’t appear to wear him out. And I will try to remember that THIS TOO SHALL PASS.