Monday, January 19, 2009

To Sleep, perchance to Dream

I started this post right after the New Year began. Since then things have calmed down (for a bit) but I thought I would post it anyway as a reminder to myself that Sleeps Swings. Oh, does it. And I included angelic pictures so you know I do love my kids. Sleep(lessness) and all.

It is pretty rare for me to write about the experiences of parenting outside of their monthly updates, but I thought I would do a post about the sleeping ‘habits’ of our almost 2 year old twins just for any one out there that might be interested. I am not big on advice (giving or receiving) being more of a experiential parent, so here is our latest experiences in sleep.

Oh, the other reason is during the few brief moments Carrie and I did get to converse during our meet up, we both mentioned that we just do not have good sleepers. Never been great with the sleep through the night thing, naps take help, etc. and I have to say it was a huge relief to talk to another parent that understood and had the same experience as we do. Because the boys have been on a schedule since day 1, but that does not negate their personal sleeping style. So…

All was going well for a bit in sleep land, I recall a few months of pretty good sleep. The boys were going down at 7, up around 6, 2 hour naps and minimal night intervention (i.e. the occasional replacement of paci). Then it started in December that we lost some of it, Mace then O, then Mace again. Verbalization started to steal some of their peaceful nights away. Mace would cry in a really frightened way. Then vacation when we slept in the same room and they ended up on the mattress with us every night due to incessant protesting from their p’n’p. Then home with Owen’s canines tearing through. We are talking kids that were up for hours in the night, unable to settle back, unable to be left, just unable, you know? This resulted in very tired and dragging parents/babies that were all feeling the strain.

Now, two things occurred to me as I write this and listen to Owen stir, talk in mid nap then settle himself back down. First, the whole notion of these babies of mine 'getting' sleep and 'keeping' it is just a notion. I know they can sleep through and put themselves back down, they have done it before. But I remind myself that there are times when they have a need, one for extra comfort or reassurance. Their world changes daily, not stable the way we adults try to maintain. They will need help and an extra cuddle and sometimes a warm parent to lay with for a bit to give them what they need. And these are things I am willing to do (in the day light hours it is easier to write that)(much harder at 1 a.m. to feel that).

So, there is now the knowledge that the sleep ‘bumps’ will smooth out. (BTW: This is the first time O has put himself back down in a few weeks, hence, the prompting for this post)(And if he would have gotten up and cried, I would have gone in and rubbed his back or held him or even laid down with him if needed, as this is for Macie too, so he can rest). It helps to write that because it reminds me that most of the tough times are temporary (haha, which means so are the ’easier’ times).

And the second point is, there are times when we realize we are doing too much and interfering with their sleep. Like when we smacked ourselves on the head this weekend after trying to soothe two really pissed off kids for an hour after they woke together at 11 or so, and our attempts were fruitless, and we left them to each other and they cried it our for awhile, and then fell asleep. So, it is a fine line, knowing when to ‘help’ and what to do. I personally feel like we cannot really do anything 'wrong' which I think frees us to try what we will and see what works. It is different for each child and it always will be. But it has also freed me from feeling like a failure as a Mama because my kids do not sleep well. It is so easy to assume it is something we have done, something we need to 'fix' but I realize for my family, it is what it is.

I think I felt the need to write this as a reminder that we all give birth to different children. We bring forth little ones that experience and process the world in unique and special ways. And they all sleep differently. I know we can ask for our children to follow a schedule and I think that is good. But I like to remember that we cannot 'take away' their individual experience and that we can honor their needs within reason. It empowers us as parents to let go of the notion that we create good/bad sleepers. I think we create the opportunity for healthy sleep, and then just take it from there.

And if you are reading and you are a parent with sleep challenges in your home and your little ones are young and you feel a bit desperate, I can say two things. It does get easier in a fashion, even if your little ones never become angelic sleepers. And, um, coffee? A Mama's best friend. Feel free to leave some comment love if you have found yourself in the same boat, so to speak. And if you had the little one that went down at 7 and woke at 7 starting at 2 weeks old...uh, maybe don't say anything. We on the other side might look up your address and bring our leftover noisemakers from New Year's to give you a taste of our night life. Just saying...


Preeti said...

Amen sistah!!!! We're going through the exact same thing with our 14-month-old and when I feel really roughed up after a bad night (like last night!!!), I always remind myself that her older brother (now age 9!) went through this same entire cycle and eventually went onto auto pilot mode. So, it's not what we're doing right or wrong, it's just that we're being there for her (or not) as and when needed. Eventually, she will sleep and sleep through and on that day I shall sing really loud. Maybe not this year, but I'm hoping:)

Glad to read that we're not alone:):) Hugs and zzzz's.

Claroux said...

Sleepless parents UNITE! Maddie & Chloe have NEVER been good sleepers. I kept waiting in the early days for that magical (and apparently mythical) night when I would wake up and the sun would be shining and they slept through the night. It never happened. Actually, it DID happen, just never on the same night - the beauty of twins, eh? I have to say that they didn't start sleeping through until they were almost two. We had a two month window pre-18 month sleep regression and then didn't get back on track until they were two. Now we can pretty much count on them not waking up until around 8 AM. But we;ve entered yet another phase - the "i-don't-want-to -go-sleep-toddler-phase." but at least we know no matter HOW difficult it is to get them down chances are they won't get up until morning.

One thing you wrote really hit home - how you would go in and tend to Owen not only for him but for Mace as well. That is definitely one thing that singleton parents (and peditricians) do NOT understand about twins. "Cry it out" was never really an option for us because the awake baby would always wake up the sleeping baby and then we would have TWO crying angels to deal with. So - we interfere too much as well. But we stopped beating ourselves up over it and realized that WE are the parents and soothing them of helping them is not going to kill anyone. Just like we still will give an occasional bottle (don't tell our peditrician) when it seems warranted or when it's asked for.

Like the previous commenter said - AMEN! You do what you need to do to get through each phase and survive! On that note - I am dropping the nuggets off at day care and then taking a "mental health day" for myself in which I nap and rest because sleep deprivation and pregnancy do NOT mix well *hugs*

cinnamongirl said...

Oh, Aimee, if there were only more mama's like you. Your babes may not sleep, but I can guarantee that you are growing up some good boys. Your ability to understand these things will do far more for these boys (not to mention you and Tim) than any sound sleep. You are unbelieveable, and I hope my boy sees me as I know yours do. I love you mama...

Alisa said...

Parenting, the toughest job you'll ever love.
We used to say that just when we get into a routine with something, they grow into the next stage and we have to flounder our way into a new routine.
Good luck and we'll be keeping our fingers crossed that you get some good sleep soon.

t + j said...

okay, first i just want to say that the last picture of owen is so incredibly beautiful. i love it.

we are incredibly grateful that a and o are good night sleepers. so incredibly grateful. but oh do we pay in the nap department. i honestly can say i can't wait for the day they no longer need that nap. sending them to school where they stay through their nap has been, in a way, a godsend for me. so much stress instantly removed from my life. and i also empathize with that fine line of being there for them and letting them work it out. there are times and places for each, and i think that is the art of parenting. at times to know intuitively what is needed, and at times when it's anybody's guess and you live to learn.

o and m are such blessed boys to have such a conscious, supportive and loving mama.

The Adventures of Carrie, Brook, Finn and Reid said...

As you know, I can count on ONE hand the number of times that the boys have slept through the night...and they are nearly two. If we have less than 10"interventions" at night, a miracle has occured. And even still, one kid is usually ends up in bed with us.

Sleep are so right on the mark...and I think that is why I am relatively lax about it...even though it is on my mind all the time, I figure it's all temporary...right? (although I am pretty sure I've been saying this for quite some time!).

The thing that keeps me going in my sleep-deprived state is (1) coffee, of course! and (2) hearing the word "Mama?" over the matter how deep my state of sleep, I will always jump at that word. Now that the boys are older, 90% of the need for love and cuddles comes after 1am. I'll take what I can get because there is nothing better that pajama-clad, sleepy boys in your arms.

Also, having twins adds another little special "spice" into the mix because, like you said, helping one babe helps the other babe too, in terms of quieting down their brother so they are not affected by the awakening. Luckily I like "spice".

I can't wait to get home and see the photos for this post.

gleek said...

i wish i knew what happened somewhere between 6 and 10 months when, all of a sudden, C became a good sleeper. she was pretty crap at it for a long time and then something just clicked. maybe it was my relentless adherence to the routine or she finally REALLY bonded with her "blankie". i have no idea. but i'm hear to say that you are an awesome parent! and i know that your boys are thriving and happy and that's what really matters.

someday they'll be teenagers and sleeping ALL THE FREAKING TIME and you'll have to constantly wake them up for school and what not :) then you'll get some payback!

Anonymous said...

I've been overall one of the lucky ones so I'll keep my mouth shit (beside the month of hell that set in at 3.5 months that almost made me loose my mind).