Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son



Short posts more frequently.  Short posts more frequently. Right.

Hello from a tired-but-not-as-dead-as-yesterday Bionic Mama.  We are finally breaking our teeth on the proverbial bullet and sleep-training the boy.

Rough sledding.

Prior to Christmas, he was mostly doing two wake-ups, sometimes three, and sometimes only one — which sounds good, I realize, but please note the horrifying fine print: one wake-up at, say, 2 am means up for the day at 5, at the latest.  Whee.  After months of fretting over his weight and my supply and feeling that whatever those smug nitwits from birth class had to say about it, my little baby needed to eat at night, even if their giant one didn’t, I was pretty convinced that it was Time.  He barely nursed in the morning, probably because he’d been eating all night and had gotten robust enough to be going longer without food.  (Finally!)  …but we were traveling for Christmas, and then sleeping in strange houses with him in at least our room if not our bed, so sleep-training before all that seemed amazingly pointless, and we didn’t.

Christmas was…as expected.  Lots of freaking out about sleeping in strange places.  Lots of nursing a million times a night.  At Sugar’s grandmother’s, it was so cold (and, truth me told, I was so in need of feeling truly extant, not to say necessary) that we basically coslept.  It was nice in some ways (body heat, snuggling) and less so in others (all-night buffet, feeling a million miles from Sugar, never really sleeping deeply).  Adding to the fun of all that nursing: we left town too early in the month for me to refill my prescriptions (What do real grown-ups do about that problem?  Some of my meds are awfully expensive out of pocket.), so I ran out of nifedipine.  And, in so doing, confirmed that I really, really do still need it.  And learned that even when I don’t go off of it completely — I was rationing it, skipping some days — it takes a couple weeks for my body to recover.  Holy Moses, that was dumb.  I should have just bought it without insurance; it can’t be that expensive.

Short posts.  Short posts.

ANYWAY, we decided to start the sleep stuff this week.  Almost did Sunday night, but I stayed up way too late writing evaluations for grad students and aborted the mission.  Tuesday, we began in earnest.

The Bean is The Boy Who Will Not Be Comforted when it comes to sleep.  He wants the boob or nothing; we have learned while trying to get him to take naps early on and then in our before-midnight sleep training that any singing, rocking, patting, shushing, watching, or otherwise non-boob attempts at comfort only piss him the hell off and keep him awake longer.  This makes me feel like the asshole of the universe, I tell you what.

So what we are doing is this: when he wakes up, Sugar goes to him, picks him up for a few seconds, puts him back down, and leaves.  And then he stands up and screams and cries until he stops and presumably sleeps.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Night one was okay, as these things go.  He woke up twice and cried for half and hour the first time and an hour and a half the second.  Well, Sugar says it was four minutes and twenty-five minutes, but she only thinks that because she can see the clock; I’m talking about how long it FELT like I was lying there, grinding my teeth and eating my heart out while my brain regaled me with a Dr. Sears-style guiltapolooza about how cruel and selfish I am, how if I mind not sleeping, I need to “adjust my attitude.”  At any rate, he slept until 6:30, which amounts to a miracle around here.  And if I was sad and tired on Wednesday, he seemed perfectly fine.  Not even all that hungry when he woke up.

Night two…blew.  Two wake-ups again, the first one very short, the second one brutal.  I didn’t sleep at all after 4; I think he slept from 5 to 5:45 or something.  He took two mammoth naps on Thursday, during which I naturally could not sleep at all.

But hey, people say it gets worse and then better.  So.  Onward.

Night three…blew.  He slept until 4 — yay! — and was restless and weepy thereafter.  We gave up at 6 — there had been some quiet moments, but not enough.  He acted famished.  Like yesterday, he looked exhausted at the breakfast table and probably needed a nap at more like 7, but instead plowed around the house until 9:30 before getting weepy.

Meanwhile, Sugar wonders whether the thing is that he really does need to eat at 4.  But the thing is, unless he eats REALLY FAST, there’s a good chance he will enter the danger zone and not go back to sleep afterwards.  And naps really shouldn’t start before the sun is up.  (Which is to say, there’s been some of that, and it sucks.)

So I guess we’ll stick with it for a week and reevaluate.  Ugh.


Turning to happier topics, I swear the following happened yesterday:

I was on the couch, playing Google Bloodhound with another student paper; the bean was across the room, surrounded by board books he had pulled off his shelf.

“Mamamama, mama,” he said.

“BeanBeanBean,” I replied.

He looked up at me, and smiled.

And then he held up The Carrot Seed and, clear as a bell, said,




16 thoughts on “SLEEP, BABY

  1. Oh the sleep training is hard, hard, hard. I feel for you guys. On the plus sign, it sounds like Bean may be an early talker! Which is freaking awesome.

    On the prescription meds, I seriously could reach through the computer and smack you! As you may or may not know, my field of expertise is pharmacy insurance. That’s all I do, all day long. And we have these things called “vacation overrides” that allow you to get your drugs early. If you don’t want to do that, you can call and have your prescription transferred to a local pharmacy. Or we can mail it to you at your location. For free. So unless you are somewhere that does not have a telephone OR any kind of store with a pharmacy OR mail service, never do that again. If you have insurance, you should not have to pay out of pocket for drugs like nifedipine, like, ever. If you ever get in this kind of situation again, please FB me. I will fix it. And that is the end of this public service announcement. 🙂

    • so you’re really not going to like it when i tell you that i do this all the time with my asthma meds, huh? on the bright side, i don’t travel much.

      i knew there must be some better thing to do, but honestly, it never occurred to me to call my insurance. no good reason, except that every phone call with them sucks and mostly involves their being snide while trying to deny payment in the most absurd ways (cf. telling me my healthy 6-week-old baby had used up his year’s supply of well visits). i miss my old union insurance.

      so thank you, thank you, a profound thank you for your PSA. now that i know there is something to be done, i will do it.

      • I didn’t say call your insurance, I said call me. And I will call your insurance and impersonate you. I speak HMO and PPO fluently. A year’s supply of Advair, did you say? 🙂

  2. Clearly he doesn’t sleep because he is too busy being a genius.

  3. So let’s recap the vocab so far: gay, mama, book? Ooooooh, what a treasure.

    I hope that some variety of sleep training will prove effective in the end–you guys more than deserve a respite. Two wakeups sounds hellish, and I know you’ve been suffering for an awfully long time. I don’t think anyone who’s not living something similar right now can appreciate what it must be like to have to function on such disrupted sleep, but…dude.

    I have certainly heard over and over that children tend to escalate, leading to a sense that it will never ever work and you are a horrible monster, and then it does work. Although… I guess one misconception I had is that it will work forever, barring teething or illness or whatever? But Bun Bun still wakes up occasionally (maybe once every six weeks?) in the middle of the night and cries for an hour. I’m watching the clock, so it really is an hour. And there’s no apparent reason. Listening to your child cry and doing nothing is a horrible experience, but I just imagine she’s a rat pushing a lever again and again hoping for the reward of a nice cuddle, and that the only way to condition her is via extinction. (In the conditioning sense, not in the sense where her species ceases to exist.) Which line of thought doesn’t make me feel good, but does remind me why I’m doing what I’m doing. Anyhow, best wishes for some kind of long term improvement in the situation, however achieved.

  4. Good luck. It sounds brutal. Everyone says that sleep training works eventually. Not that I would know anything about sleep. But that’s what they say.

  5. I gleefully (and selfishly) love the long posts! Love! Sorry about the sleep training–I expect that sooner or later it’ll get better (either because he’ll get used to it or he’ll grow out of needing to wake up as much. Hopefully sooner than later!) but it sounds like it sucks. Meanwhile, you can just go through that book and get him to say all the words! And then have conversations! About how mama needs to sleep.

  6. Yeah, I’ve had that happen with meds; as inloco says, I called the nearest big chain pharmacy, gave them the prescription info, and they took care of it.

    Sleep training does suck (“My PRECIOUS BAYYBEEE is so saaaaaaaad!!”) but you have needs too, and you can’t continue to meet his needs if you get no sleep. Or, in the words of another fine Southern saying: Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

    I know he’s not my baby but I seriously doubt he *needs* to eat at 4. I’m sure he wants to, but he’ll probably adapt. Or eat breakfast twice. Or have cheese with butter on every night, or something.

    Bug (almost three!) still wakes up screaming occasionally. We don’t go in. He puts himself back to sleep, and he’s fine.

    (P.S. When they get to the whiny, defiant, tantrum-y age it is WAY easier to not care that they’re crying!)

  7. Oh good grief Mamas. I feel your pain. Sleep training is the worst! The worst I tell you. We had an abortive attempt when Eggbert was about 8 months old and she cried All. Night. Long. She was so wrecked by the end of day 2 that I had to cancel the training on humanitarian grounds. The second (successful) attempt was at age 10 months, and there I set a 6 am feeding time. Before 6 am, I held her, shushed, and did all of the other useless stuff that just made her furious, and then at 6 (when, being summer, conveniently the sun came up), gave her the boob. After a couple of days, she got it, realized that she wasn’t being cut off forever, just for a few more hours, and started actually sleeping. Sort of. The emotional scars are still bright red for me, although she doesn’t remember a thing.

    As for “book,” how amazing! What a brilliant child you are raising!

  8. I struggled with the “your baby is huge my baby is tiny AND a preemie and therefore still needs to eat in the middle of the night even though he is already 7 months old” thing. It took me a long time to get over it. But finally, around 8 months, we just fell into the night weaning and all was fine. The boys were eating plenty during the day and really really didn’t need the night feeds that I had continued to give them for so long.
    Good luck with the sleep training. I have been there and been there listening to a crying baby for an hour (two hours…etc) in the middle of the night and it does suck. But really, I think it is so so worth it.
    And in terms of the guiltapalooza…does it help to think of it this way–your baby NEEDS quality, consecutive night sleep. So by indulging all-night nursathons (in which he does not get enough hours of deep and uninterrupted sleep) you are actually doing him a DISSERVICE. Thus…rather than look at sleep training as cruel, you can turn it around and look at NOT sleep training as cruel. Take that, Sears!

  9. Sleep training is soooo hard. Those baby cries are designed to demand our attention, and it’s darn hard to ignore them–especially when you’re already exhausted. For us, it was totally worth it in the end, though.
    The guilt piece is hard, but it’s important to remember that you will be a far better parent when you’re all getting better sleep. And self-soothing is an important skill for The Bean to learn.
    Also, he’s clearly brilliant.

  10. Book! What a smart one he is! 🙂

    I read each of your sleep posts eagerly, waiting for you to discover the Miracle Cure that I can then steal from you.

  11. all i can do in this comment is echo others. first of all, he is clearly brilliant. also, i’m following the sleep saga on the edge of my seat hoping to learn something i can use.

    i don’t think bunny or bean are too different with sleep, just that we gave in and brought him into our bed. i KNOW he doesn’t need to eat as often as he nurses, but it buys me sleep time.

    i’m guessing bean is like bunny in his theory on sleep too which is that it distracts him from the exciting world around him that must be checked out and, soon i’m sure, explored.

  12. So glad to see an update. When I was thinking of you the other day, I was wondering what had happened when the Bean hit nine months and chanting (as I do, nightly), “Weissbluth says two wakeups a night is normal until nine months” would no longer fly. I’m glad there is some sign of progress.

    I don’t know what we’ll do about the night feeds, given that my E. gets more and more hysterical if left to cry, and I’m constantly second guessing whether it’s teeth, or if the MSPI issue has erupted again, or what. But I am glad to read the diaries of those in the trenches before me, so do please keep posting. 🙂

    And I LOVE that the Bean said book. Amazing! Last night, literally seconds before FINALLY going back to sleep after an insane late evening (teeth), E. very clearly said, “Mum”, and then passed out. Obviously he was not remotely applying it to me, but I had this catch in my throat as I realized that one day he would.

  13. Pingback: Swap Sweetness | Bionic Mamas

  14. We had a lot of success with sleep training our bean when he was about 6 or 7 months old. I’d love to take all the credit, but I do think a lot comes down to the disposition of the child. I hope your bean is starting to come around. “Book” (and/or “gay”) are both awesome first words, after Mama, of course.

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