Tuesday, November 27, 2012

- a little sleep update -

So, yes, you all know...we have some sleep issues going on in our house. It's nothing new...little Miss Ellie has not been sleeping well for over 6 months now. Yes, it's just about every night...yes, it stresses our entire house out, every.single.night. Some nights she cries and screams, some nights she persistently calls out for me and some nights, she just lays in bed singing and playing, or staring at the ceiling. Those are the "good" nights...the ones where Matt and I can actually roll over and fall back asleep while our 3 year old stays awake for hours. She wakes up at least 2-3 times a night...on a bad night, it's more like 4 times. And yes, she can stay awake for hours. A couple nights ago she woke up at 2:30 a.m...finally fell back asleep at 6:15 a.m....yup, that's right...hours!

She does at least stay in her bed. She is really good about that. So we don't have to worry about her wandering around the house in the dark, and we don't have to deal with locking her door, or putting up a gate to keep her in her room. And she doesn't ever come into our room and try to climb into our bed. She never has liked co-sleeping with us. She just wants us around...in her room keeping her company. She doesn't really want to sleep right next to us in the same bed.

About a month ago I was at my wit's end. Lack of sleep was finally getting to me and I was so stressed and tired. I decided the best solution was to just put a mattress in our room and let her sleep on the floor of our room. That way we could get some sleep, and she would know that she was close to us, and not alone. Of course, I figured that would take a couple of days to facilitate (turns out we don't have any spare mattress laying around our house!), and within those couple of days before I even got around to setting anything up in our room, she magically started sleeping perfectly fine. Whew, problem solved right?

Wrong! That only lasted 3 or 4 nights, and then she slowly started back into her normal waking routine. I decided instead of actually purchasing a mattress and opening up our room to her, I would call her pediatrician one more time about the issue to get some more advice. I have talked to her many times about this and she has given me many useful suggestions and advice, all which have failed to help us, unfortunately. However, after my latest conversation with her, she agreed that over 6 months of only getting 6-7 hours of sleep per night for a child her age is not healthy at all. She suggested melatonin, which I had already looked into, and was really hesitant about giving her. I know A LOT of people use it with success for their kids, and there is nothing wrong with that. I just have a hard time knowing that my child needs a sleep supplement at her young age. Plus, I don't ever want her to get dependent on anything, no matter how natural it is. Her Dr. knows my hesitations about giving her supplements, no matter how natural they are, and agreed that we shouldn't leave her on it long term. She told me to give her the lowest dose possible (an adult normally takes 3-5mg, we are giving her .25mg) and to only try it for 2 weeks, in hopes that it will just help her body "reset" it's sleep cycles. We are currently on day 3 of the melatonin...no difference in her sleep yet...sigh. I'll keep at it for the full 2 weeks, and will stop immediately after if it hasn't helped. I still don't love that I am giving her a sleep supplement, but I also know that a 3 year old should not be getting only 6 hours of sleep per night. That can't be good for her mind, her body, or her development. So as torn up as I am over the melatonin, I'm still hoping that if I keep at it just temporarily, it can help her get a good night's sleep.

I do have to say, I've had some amazing people reach out to me and offer advice, support, or just words of encouragement through out all this. And I am so grateful for that! It's amazing how stressed and upset you can get due to lack of sleep, and there have been a lot of people that have been so supportive over the past 6 months.

I will also say though, that I have had a handful of people criticize my decisions, or question the methods I am trying. I know it kind of comes with the territory of being a parent, and there is always someone out there that will judge you as a parent, but it certainly doesn't help an already frustrating situation. When I told some people I was going to try letting her sleep in our room, some people were aghast. "Why in the world would you start her on that "habit" at 3 years old. She's so good at staying in her own bed, why would you mess with that?" And when I mentioned melatonin to some people, I definitely got raised eyebrows from some people..."Melatonin, for a kid that young? That can't be good for her." Here's the thing...until they've spent one night in our house, most people just don't get it. I can tell people until I am blue in the face what happens around our house at night, but no one really gets it unless they've been to our house overnight, or, unless they also have a toddler/kid with sleep issues. It's not fun, people! I'm not doing some of these things just for the heck of it! I'm doing them because we are desperate to get her a good night's sleep, every night, because that's what a toddler needs!

As much as I have complained, and cried over this issue in the past 6 months, I am so grateful that we aren't having to deal with more serious health issues. We are so blessed that Ellie is healthy, and happy (even with her lack of sleep). And I've survived lack of sleep before when Ellie was younger (oh, have I mentioned that Ellie has always been a crappy sleeper...yeah, sleep issues are not a new thing around our house), and I know I will survive again. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other. We will make our way through this and soon, we won't even remember that it was ever such a big deal in our house. That's one thing I have learned back when I had a refluxy, colicky, high needs, difficult baby. There is a light at the end of the tunnel! This too shall pass and God will never gives us more than we can handle. It might just take a little more time for us to realize that!


Katie said...

I think it's very brave of you to post about Ellie's sleep issues here!

Maybe it's because I'm a much "crunchier" mom than I ever thought I'd be, but I'm so surprised that you get a hard time about melanin / melatonin! This is a hormone that occurs naturally in our bodies, and, like insulin, is sometimes not self-regulated well, for whatever reason.

Like you, I always hesitate to medicate Maile, but I think it speaks to your commitment to, and love for Ellie, that you're willing to give this "treatment" a chance.

We are a bed-sharing family. As you know, since it was one of the reasons I started following your blog, Maile was diagnosed early on with a tilted stomach, severe acid reflux, and soy and dairy protein intolerances. She was having such a hard time gaining weight that our pediatrician suggested nursing in / sometimes called "going to bed with baby" ...

Even though Maile had been fine in her co-sleeper bassinet, we're still a bed sharing family. A family bed is what works for us. And we get a lot of grief about it. But we all sleep well!

So, I will encourage you with what I tell our nay-sayers and critics (many of whom aren't even parents -- say what!?): Continue to do what works for you as a family. You are Ellie's mother, and through your concern for her, you've already proven yourself to be lightyears ahead of many other parents.

Consider this excessively long comment a hug of support! I hope the supplement works for Miss Ellie!

Amy said...

ditto to what the pp said about the nay-sayers, most of them probably have never dealt with a kid who doesn't sleep. It's rough. I WISH i had advice for you but Brady sucks at sleeping too :) I swear, him and Ellie are meant for each other! Ha!

To be honest, the ONLY thing that has helped Brady sleep through (and it's not ALL the time) is that he no longer naps. Life has been really rough since he stopped though. He is a mess from about 5-7 when he crashes and is then up for the day at 5 or 530, sometimes, 6 to start the process all over again and meltdowns so easily because he's SO tired.

To be honest, when he was sick with a cold, we used Zarbees which I later found out had melatonin in it and omg, he never slept better! I work with kids who have special needs and many of them have sleep issues and take it. My husband takes it too! Anyway, I hope something works. I know how rough it is and I swear, they sure know how to keep us on our toes or at least drinking :) LOL

Paige said...

oh wow! That is really tough. I give you so much credit to write about it and then post it. I hope you know that you are doing the best thing for you and your baby. I wish you and your family all the best.

Andrea {kerubo mama} said...

You know how much I admire you and your parenting style. Bravo for standing up for yourself!! You are the best parent for Ellie!

I had some of the same type of critics come at me when they realized that I didn't/couldn't breastfeed Cruz. All I could think was "were you there?? Did you experience any of our specific problems? No? Ok then. Please stop talking." UGH.

Hon, you're right too when you say that you will get through this!! I hope and PRAY that it passes soon, that the melatonin will work, that she will grow out of it, or whatever needs to happen will happen.

(And until then, just keep thinking of your vacay coming up!! Some time in a private villa should help you regain some sanity!)

Love you, friend!! xo

Shannon said...

Oh my...I really don't have advice, but I do have sympathy. And trust me, I'll not judge a single thing you do/try to get your pretty little girl some sleep.

Good luck.

Miranda said...

every child is different so it is good you are trying many things to figure out what works best. just because you are doing something that might raise some eyebrows (to certain people) who cares. as long as you aren't putting your child in danger than it's really nobodies business!

i hope something starts to work for you! thinking of you!

Anonymous said...
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Kira said...

I hope the melatonin works for you guys. I know it's scary to give supplements to your kids, but at least it's something natural! I can't imagine going through sleepless nights for that long. I hope the end is in sight for you guys.

Anonymous said...

Hailey just turned 3 and we were having the exact same issues with her sleep. We too have tried everything under the sun ... and finally gave into the melatonin. The doctor suggested 1mg for 1 month. We give her .5 mg each night - and on the 5th night - it worked! We are only in the second week, but she is now sleeping 8-9 hours ... amazing. I wish you the best and that this will work for you!!

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