Sunday, September 28, 2008

Crazy days and desperate nights

When a prisoner of war is forced to go without sleep for consecutive days at the hands of his captors it's called torture.

When a woman or a man is forced to go without sleep for consecutive months at the hands of their infant it's called parenthood.

I'm willing to bet the amount of sleep I'm working off of right now would seriously impair my judgment if I were to use heavy machinery or drive a car.

On top of it all, my body is so run down I've developed a nasty head cold which is making it impossible to sleep, even if C.C. decided to allow it. Which she won't. Last night I got two hours of sleep. I'm not exaggerating even a little.

I barely get a break. I just can't seem to keep up with her demands; her demand to nurse, her demand for comfort, her demand to be walked, rocked, bounced. Her demands are loud and urgent. Her cries are piercing and angry.

She kicks and punches her arms with such force she makes swaddling nearly impossible. And those Swaddle Me blankets? Please. I don't think a baby sized straight jacket with buckles could hold her. But she needs it, she needs to be held tightly or the constant movement will escalate to a frenzy and she'll become nearly inconsolable.

She's teething.

She's rolling.

She's growing.

She's not quite four months old.

She needs.

She demands.

She's exhausted me. She's exhausted my husband. She's exhausted herself.

I love her. I go to her whenever she needs me. But at two a.m., after trying to comfort her back to sleep for over two hours, knowing I'll be doing it all over again in another two, there is rage and fury and tears. So many tears.

I love her. I resent her. It's visceral. I plead and beg and yell and coo. I tell her I love her. I demand her to tell me what's wrong with her. I punch the mattress and press my head into pillows to stifle my screams of frustration. I hold her tight to my body trying to will my love into her.

I leave the room and let her cry. If he's home, I hand her off to Mr. C. and lay with the pillows over my head trying to block out her cries. But still she demands me.

I hate myself.

I feel like I'm failing her.

I'm doing all that I can for her.

I love her.

I'm exhausted.


Sarahviz said...

I know. I know. I KNOW.
Thinking of you.

I'm close by. Let me know if you need a break at night.

SciFi Dad said...

My daughter was like this for a period of time; it was nowhere as long as what you're going through, so from an extended standpoint I cannot relate. However, I remember those feelings all too well. Parenting is a difficult and often frustrating gig. Nobody gets that except parents.

Although it sounds hollow, you will survive this, and in time you'll forget it was even as bad as it is right now. I hope that she turns around soon, for all of your sakes.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. That is so rough. Keep telling yourself - it WILL end. I promise.

Greens and Pinks said...

Ditto Sarah exactly. Whenever (WHENEVER!) you need/want a break I am here. Seriously. I am here. I don't go anywhere!

Anonymous said...

You poor thing! Wish there was something that could be said or done to spare people this frustration and torture! Those of us who have had those kind of truly awful sleep-deprivation experiences are wishing you the peace that only a permanent improvement in sleep patterns can bring. You are truly, TRULY a hero. For hanging in there, for continuing to do it, even though it is SO VERY HARD. For plugging through each day, even when you feel like a zombie. For still loving your babies, even when it seems every moment of every day they are nothing but demanding. For talking yourself down from that overpowering resentment and going to them anyway. You are so not alone!

d e v a n said...

I'm with you. Know that when you're up and frustrated at 2AM.
My youngest is just over 4 months old and is up numerous, un-countable times a night. The screaming and crying and needing I-don't-know-what are really getting me down.
No advice or help, just commiseration.

Larissa said...

Oh, how I remember those days... wait, I'm there AGAIN. Except my Munchkin is almost *3*, and now he innundates the sleepless nights (at least those that are consumed by HIS incessant need to NOT sleep) with arguments about how he is NOT sleepy, and how much he wants me to leave him ALONE and how he's NOT EVEN YAWNING YET. Ugh.

Of course, then there's the *other* nights, where he sleeps peaccefully, and I am stuck STILL staring into the darkness (or into the vortex of my laptop screen, as it is most nights), wondering WHY in the love of all that is holy, I am *still* managing to (chuckle) SURVIVE on 20-25 hours of sleep a WEEK.

Yes, I wholeheartedly grasp the concept of your 2 hours of sleep in a night. There are nights I go without sleep COMPLETELY. And have for the last YEAR.

The good news?? Yours is spurned by an infant which WILL grow out of this phase... and that you have a REASON for your sleeplessness... albeit frustrating, at least the reason is cute. =)

Amie Adams said...

I remember.

I'm sorry.

I wish I was closer to spell you.

Mags said...

Mantra: This will end soon...I will get through this.

It's hard, I know. And, your baby will know that she's always loved.

kittenpie said...

Honey, I've had days like that already and I'm only 3 weeks in. The fact that you have lasted four months speaks volumes about your strength and your love. (I was totally telling my friend the same thing about torture, too!) The only consolations are knowing you are doing your best and knowing that there is an end. My biggest hugs, honey. I only wish we were closer so we could cry on each other's shoulders!

Mrs Big Dubya said...

I could have written this post last night..... the 'liller Dubay just couldn't be consoled or fed enough fast enough.

I find that when they are really, really upset & pissed off it's usually an upset tummy or a poop formulating -- a couple of ounces of warm water with a quarter teaspoon of brown sugar works like a charm.....

Can't hurt to try it

Best of luck ...

Avalon said...

I wish i could help because I remember it all too well. Even after 25 years. Hang in there Mrs. C.

Anonymous said...

My youngest is 9 and your post brought all those memories flooding back to me as if it were yesterday.

During his first 4 months he 'slept' in a bouncy seat by the side of my bed; wouldn't tolerate the crib at all. When not nursing, I walked the house with him wailing while the hubs holed up with the toddler and pre-schooler as far away from the racket as they could get. The only two things that provided relief were the bouncy seat at night and the baby sling during the day. I swear I could drop a drawer full of silverware on a glass floor and he wouldn't even stir while nestled in that sling.

Be strong. In my experience it didn't necessarily get better but it did change. And sometimes that's all you need to make it through the tougher times.

OhTheJoys said...

I'm so sorry friend. It seems like such a never ending saga when we went through it. It did start to ease when Rooster was 9 months - and REALLY got better at 18 months.

I know, I know... that's a long way away.

Thinking of you...


Patois42 said...

Tis torture, indeed. And in another couple of weeks, you'll find it easier. And soon enough, you'll think the idea of having another baby sounds just ducky. So sorry you're in the here and now just now. I wish you strength.

Heather said...

I'm there with you friend. When's that first support group meeting? 2 or 3 a.m. (as I cackle demonically).

Chris O said...

Baby Jail does come with parole and you will have some really nice years where everyone sleeps soundly. Then they become teenagers, teenagers with cars, with friends, teenagers with cell phones. And you have a whole set of new worries and you remember those nights where at least you could be right there protecting, comforting, not sleeping. I've been momming for 27 years and the last one just became a teen. I have no regrets, I figure my golden years will be for sleeping.

It should get better although my son has been cranky for 18 years.

Katie said...

Delurking to say your post made me feel nauseous as it was exactly my life a few short months ago. I can barely stand to think about it now. Sleep deprivation in the extreme is just insanity. My daughter had colic and silent reflux. Any chance you are dealing with either of these? Gripe water and prevacid improved her/my life about 10% but it was still something. The best advice I have is don't let yourself wonder how long it will last. Take it one day at a time and keep breathing. Some day you will be able to look back and feel nauseous too.

motherbumper said...

Thinking of you buddy, oh how I wish I could start a red wine IV drip for you, with a big fluffy duvet and a pile of chocolate. Since I can't, I'll just have to do all the rocking, and snuggling while you sleep in Boston in a couple of weeks - can you make it until then?

Her Bad Mother said...

just this: DITTO

Jess said...

Oh, open-armed, huge, colossal hugs.

I remember. I remember thinking this was the WORST thing I had ever thought of to do voluntarily to myself. And it seemed like I was All.Alone.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this would help with the flailing problem?

karengreeners said...

Say it with me: This too shall pass.

(it does. it did. I promise.)

Anonymous said...

With all this sleep deprivation going on, you would think the internet would be a dull place right now but with all the wonderfully well spoken women (and men) on here, its still wonderful.

Chicky, I feel your pain. As I was telling Her Bad Mother, if I was anywhere near, I would come and help. If you need someone to talk to, or just to unload on, I'm here.

Barbara said...

I KNOW. Been there. I did survive, and so shall you, even though it may not feel like it now.

She would start crying at 11 and end around 5, only to be up for hours at a time. All this from birth.

Adoration, exhaustion. Love, frustration.

All you can do is what you have been, walk away sometimes. Love the rest. Cry a lot, if it helps.

Good luck.

Barbara said...

I KNOW. Been there. I did survive, and so shall you, even though it may not feel like it now.

She would start crying at 11 and end around 5, only to be up for hours at a time. All this from birth.

Adoration, exhaustion. Love, frustration.

All you can do is what you have been, walk away sometimes. Love the rest. Cry a lot, if it helps.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, not looking forward to that again.

Can I recommend the Miracle Blanket ( Sooo much better than the Swaddle Me. We turned to it at 3 months with DS and went from 1.5 hour segments of sleep to 5+ hours. Of course, he started rolling back to front at 4 months, so we had to discontinue use, bringing us back to sleepless nights. But that month of sleep was pure bliss, and definitely worth it.

MOm said...

ummm, jumping in here, this sounds a bit like my second child. Never slept more than two hours at a time, screamed the rest of the time, needed constant holding, jiggling, rocking.

After 8 months of this, my 2.5 year old daughter sat up in bed in the middle of the night as I was trying to put the baby down and said "I'm getting really tired of this."

"So'm I honey, so'm I..."
I called the pediatrician the next morning and said "drug him or hospitalize me. your choice." And after only 3 nights of a mild sedative he was a different - happy! - kid.

And I was a Mommy who no longer walked into walls.

Basically, he couldn't transition from dozing to deep sleep and just needed a little help. I felt like the worst mother on the planet for drugging my baby, but there simply - after so many months of trying - no other option. You might want to discuss it with your doc.

PS. 28 years later, he's still a wild child...

Anonymous said...

Wow, I want to cry with you because I have SO been there. I have three, and one of them was exactly as you describe, which meant *I* was exactly as you describe. Hardest thing I have ever gone through, but you already know it does eventually end. Have a glass of wine when you are stressed, and don't feel bad about putting in a dvd for the toddler if it means you can nap on the couch when the baby sleeps. You are in a battlezone, typical parenting rules do NOT apply.

Anonymous said...

I'll never forget spending a vacation with my cousin and her 3-month old son over 20 years ago. Jeremy cried. And cried. My cousin just held him tight and said over and over "Mommy loves you." He's a wonderful young man now!

Have you tried the top of the dryer trick (with supervision, of course)?


Unknown said...

I was just reading this post and I was instantly transported back to when my son was a baby. He had reflux so bad that for the first year of his life, there were months and months that I was so sleep deprived that I thought for sure I was losing my mind. I felt like a failure so many times! While parenting is so rewarding, it is almost the most frustrating thing you will ever do in your life!

you're doing a great job and one of these days, she will sleep through the night and will look at you with a big goofy grin and these hard times will be a distant memory. Until then, please know that every parent goes through this at some point. I wish I was close and could give you a break!

Girlplustwo said...

oh sister. i'm so sorry. i am so sorry. this is really really hard.

and it will pass. but that doesn't help right now.

Unknown said...

Tania, my daughter, the one you met, was that baby. NOTHING soothed her. She never slept, she never ate, she hated to be held but she hated to be put down even more. Nothing soothed her, nothing made her happy, nothing but nothing made her shut the fuck up...for 18 months.

Two things I might suggest. It's up to you if you want to try them. She might have some kind of gastro problem that isn't showing up as real live reflux. It could be what is termed silent reflux, which is almost more painful because the stomach acids burn the esophagus and babies just can't TELL you how much something hurts. So it might be worthwhile for you to see a pediatric gastroenterologist and have this checked out. You CAN give zantac (RX) that might work wonders. Or it might not. But it could be worth exploring.

And number two. Call Childrens ASAP and make an appointment to see Ferber. I know, you hate him, you think CIO it cruel, you would never do it to your kid, blah blah blah. Just go see him as soon as she is 6 months old. TALK TO HIM. YOu don't have to do it, but you might change your life if you do. It took me 18 months to get up the nerve, and 2 weeks to teach my kid to sleep and stop being such a cranky pants. Because that sleep deprivation is being felt by your daughter as well as by you. She is just as miserable as you are, and she needs to sleep.

I wish I could offer you more.

Crazed Nitwit said...

I have never been more exhausted than I was after the birth and first 6 months of my second child. I was so sleep deprived I had forgotten my spouse went to France for 2 weeks leaving me alone with the 2 and a half year old and the 3 month old. I have no memory of him leaving, being gone or coming home. I remember everything so I know I was badly altered from sheer complete exhaustion.

I disagree with Margalit and Ferber but that's me. We tried it with the second and neither one of us could stand it. He did start sleeping more and longer at about 6 months. I also took advantage of spouse when he did come home to take as many naps as possible.

I wish you and Catherine the best. Hugs.

mamatulip said...

Oliver was a very high-needs, high-maintenance baby. He's still, in many ways, like this as a three-year-old, but it is a lot better. HE is a lot better. And *I* am a lot better. It's a learning curve - after having Oliver the thing that I found the most difficult was how different my kids were - their needs, their desires, their wants, their abilities, their personalities...everything. It took me a while to be able to bounce back and forth between the two of them, and to find a rhythm. But I did, and you will too.

Hang in there.

Don Mills Diva said...

Hang in there sweetie...

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way sometimes about my 6 week old and then I feel such tremendous guilt. It kinda sucks.

Christina said...

I remember that period of time, and I felt much the same way. I promise it will get better. Mira went through that same frustrating needy period, and I thought I'd never survive.

It gets easier. Do whatever you need to do to cope at the moment (wine is always a good idea, I think), but know that it will pass.

Amy said...

I am in the trench with you. I know this exactly. It is like you are in my head.

Anonymous said...

Oh honey - I don't know what to say. But I am thinking of you and sending you loads of love and good wishes.

Unknown said...

If it helps in any small way, just know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
It won't last forever and you will get your life back. It just doesn't feel like it at the moment.
So many of us have been there, I mean really BEEN there, and yet here we are making jokes about it on our blogs now!
Keep your chin up Chicky.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. I understand, I do.

Anonymous said...

My youngest daughter (of 3) didn't sleep through the night until she was almost 20 months. I understand completely what you are going through and I had many night of tears (my own) and trying to sleep with a pillow over my head. She is 27 months now and is the best sleeper of the three ... she just had to torture us first.

Hang in there, it WILL get better!