Posted by: amamasblog | May 15, 2007

Back to Reality

While writing my post yesterday, about my Mother’s Day, I realized that I had actually gotten about 7 hours of sleep the night before, with Ryan spending the night at my dad’s, and Joe getting up with Cole, and then sleeping in.  It wasn’t uninterrupted, mind you- but I’ll take what I can get.

It was the most I have slept since before Ryan was born, and wondered what special sleep fairy was smiling on me, in that I was able to sleep for so long yesterday.

Last night, as I was going to bed, shortly before midnight- Ryan woke up.  He has been sleeping through the nights really well now, for about 2 months.  He was crying, whining, and restless.  Nothing was wrong with him, other than he couldn’t sleep.  I tried everything, and nothing was working.  I let him lay on the couch, and around 2am, he *finally* fell asleep.

Then I heard the noise that I am coming to dread- one that makes me feel like I have drank 6 cups of coffee and shoots adrenaline into my system- Cole crying.

Ever since day one with him, whenever he cries, it has that reaction on me.  I have gotten to where I have such a hard time falling asleep, because I *know* just when I get in that deep, restful, REM sleep, his crying will jolt me out of it.  Quite frankly, it is easier for me to stay up and wait for it, than it is to sleep and then try to groggily wake up and deal with Cole. 

A while ago my friend, Amy, put a challenge on her blog for venturing out of our “blog safety zone”, and putting yourself ‘out there.’  At the time, I didn’t really have anything that I was inspired to write, but as I was trying to get Cole back to sleep last night, inspiration hit me, so to speak.

I love Cole dearly, but sometimes I am just exhausted, overwhelmed, and simply at a loss on what to do for him.  Nothing ever works the same way for him two nights in a row.  Some nights when he wakes up, he wants to nurse, and then go back to sleep.  Then the next night, he wants his back patted, then the next night he won’t settle down unless he gets a snack, and then the next night he’ll sleep for 6 hours straight, and so on. 

I have lost count how many nights at 3am I am up with him crying, because I don’t understand why he won’t sleep, and why I can’t seem to solve this problem with him. I know it has taken a toll on myself and in those very, very, dark moments, I wish sometimes that he would just go away. 

Before having Cole, I could never understand why some people were led to shake a baby, but after Cole I totally understand it.  When hour after hour goes by and *nothing* will get the baby quiet, I can understand how someone could “lose it,” or make a bad split second decision.  I am ashamed to say that I have been on the brink of wanting to shake Cole to get him to be quiet, but never crossed that line.  I tell myself it will be OK in the morning and that gets me through the night.

Last night after  Cole woke up at 2 am, and after trying to nurse him, and sleep with him, he was restless, squirmy, and just not going to sleep.  I finally got up with him at 5am, when Joe’s alarm went off.  I fed him some breakfast, and stayed up with him until 6:30, until he seemed tired enough to fall back asleep.  He finally did, and then I fell asleep until 7:30 when Ryan woke up.  I realized that I got up at 10:30 yesterday, and didn’t get to sleep until 6:30 this morning- I was up for 20 hours, and got one hour of sleep.

 I should be dead on my feet- I should be exhausted.  But no, I hopped out of bed like I had just slept 10 hours, got the boys dressed, made breakfast, did a load of laundry, dropped Ryan off at Joe’s parent’s house, went grocery shopping, did errands, went to Target (where Cole had a complete, screaming, ear shattering melt-down), which didn’t even phase me, made Cole lunch, put the groceries away, did more laundry, dozed with Cole for an hour, and then vacuumed and cleaned up the house.  After dinner, I went on an hour walk, and I am STILL not tired.

I don’t know what has happened to me, it is like I am losing my need or ability to sleep.  Even if I went to sleep now, I know Cole will be waking up, but don’t know when.  It could be in 10 minutes or two hours.  Do I risk going to sleep, only to be jolted awake, or just stay up?  It seems like I have less patience with him, when I have been sleeping and he wakes me up, than if I am already awake. 

The funny thing is I don’t even really care anymore.  I have just resigned myself to the fact that this is how it is going to be for awhile with Cole.  On a good night, I get 4 hours of sleep, and on a bad night, one hour.  I just have to laugh at the days before kids, when if I didn’t have 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, I was a zombie.  I didn’t know how good I had it back then.

I know it won’t always be like this, but it is so hard to go through this night, after night, and then try to be productive during the day.  I fear by the time Cole does grow out of this, my body will be so messed up from not sleeping, I am just going to have a permanent case of insomnia. 

I wrote yesterday how much I loved being a mom, and I do.  But it is also hard, thankless, and drop-dead tiring.  Some times I hate it and wonder what is going to get me through the night?  Sometimes I wonder will I get through the night?  Will I ever sleep again?  How can a little baby, whom I love so much, frustrate me to the extreme level that he does? 

No one ever told me being a mother was easy, and I don’t expect it to.  After getting a little break for one day though, and getting some rest, I wonder why I can’t catch these little breaks more often?  Maybe it is the bad times that make you appreciate the good.

Cole just started crying, so I’m off.  Maybe I’ll get one of those breaks, and he’ll go back to sleep fairly quickly tonight. 



I wrote this last night (Monday) and didn’t have a chance to post it as Cole started to cry.  No breaks last night- it was another terrible night.  Cole screamed, and screamed and would not be consoled-again.  That woke up Ryan and Joe.  I absolutely could do nothing to calm him, so finally at 2 am Joe, Ryan, and I hung out in Ryan’s room, and let Cole cry it out.  Yes, I said, cry it out.  I normally don’t believe in it, and even wrote a post about about not doing it, a while ago.

Nothing we were doing for Cole was working.  It almost seemed like he needed to cry, and work it out.  It was so hard listening to him cry, but in the state we were in, it was the only thing left to do.  As I sat on the floor, next to Ryan’s bed, I thought about how many times I cry and I do feel better after it.  I also thought about what I had just written, and how close I have gotten to ‘losing’ it with Cole, and realized he was safe in his crib, and this is what we needed to do to get through the night.

Cole will be one year old in a week, and it seems like his sleep problems are getting worse, not better.  I think he does understand that when we leave, we do come back, and there was a night light in our room, so in the end, I feel like one night of crying it out, isn’t going to do permanent damage to him.

Is it a tool I want to use every night?  No.  Did it work last night? Yes.  After 30 minutes, he fell asleep and stayed asleep until 6, when he wanted to nurse.  He immediately fell asleep in my arms, and when he woke up at 7:30 to get up, he gave me a big smile and he was in a really good mood today.

One mantra that I tell myself as a mother is “never say never.”  That seems to be my one consistant I can count on- whenever I think or decide a certain course I want to take with my children, it doesn’t always work out that way.  In the long run, the only thing that is consistant is change. 

Crying it out wouldn’t have worked for Cole when he was a newborn, or even a few months ago, but in order to be a good mother for him and for me, I have to consider the possibility that at times, maybe he just needs to cry, and work out whatever it is for himself, during those times that nothing *we* do works for him. 

Sometimes I want to be left alone, not be touched, and have a good cry  Is it totally unreasonable to think that my baby would never want those things either?  I have thought not- all these months I have concluded that he wants to be held all the time, and wants to be close to me, etc.  What if all this time he just wanted and needed his own space?

The only thing that is clear to me, is that I just don’t know. I don’t know if this was just a one-night fix, or not.  All I can do is keep trying the best I can, and follow Cole’s cues.  I like what my sister told me a few days ago, regarding something else, when I felt like I was a ‘bad’ mom, for not having shot enough video of Cole’s first year.  She said, “that doesn’t make you a bad mom, it makes you a normal mom.”  For now, normal is good.



  1. I think it also makes you an excellent mom to be reflecting on all this and being brave enough to try things you thought you’d “never” do…I’m proud of you and you’re doing a great job with those boys…they’re amazing!

  2. Have you ever read the book “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood?” At one point the mom, Vivian, loses it and hits one of her kids then leaves her kids alone, gets in the car and just drives. Eventually she checks into a hotel and sleeps for days. I read that before I had kids and was horrified. I thought Vivian was incredibly selfish and awful. Not that I’ve been there more I have such empathy for Vivian! I can totally see how she ended up where she did. I could see myself exploding and then running away and sleeping for days. Anymore I try not to judge the Vivians of the world and instead hope like hell I don’t become one 🙂

    Cole sounds more than difficult to deal with. You seem to have dealt with him with such patience. I really admire you and don’t know how you do it!! It is REALLY BAD around here if I don’t get sleep consistently. They use sleep deprivation as torture and I can see why it works 🙂

    You are a better person than I – I realized pretty early on w/ S why someone would shake a baby. It is SO hard to have them screaming and not be able to FIX it. IT is so easy and normal to feel angry and frustrated.

    I’m not a CIO fan either, but I also feel that by toddlerhood it won’t work if they’re not ready for the next step. Quinn has this obnoxious need to be rocked to sleep sometimes. Eventually I just have to lay with him and let him cry because I cannot handle rocking him night after night and not sleeping. I feel bad for him, but I have a limit.

    Major (((HUGS))) to you. You are phenomenal! I really am in awe of how much you’ve withstood for how long. I’m sending you many sleep vibes and the hope that something will click with Cole soon and he’ll sleep. (and I’m copying and pasting this so I don’t lose it again! 😉 )

  3. Thanks for the support guys. 🙂

    I have read DSOTYYS, of course before I had kids, and was horrifed at Vivi too- it didn’t take long for me to feel like that some days as well- not the beating part- but just wanting to leave. I used to look at her, like what a bad mother she was, but maybe she was on to something- maybe we all *do* need a break from time to time before we totally lose it and do something we regret.

    My MIL & FIL have been life-savers. They let Ryan come over whenever, and it helps just having some down time, where I don’t feel so stressed out. My dad gets to stop by to, a few times a week (he drives a truck and we are on his route), so he gets to stay for half an hour or so…Joe had to work 2 hours away today, and my dad came by and played with the boys while I made dinner. I can’t ‘run away’ for a week to a hotel, but the little breaks sure are nice too.

    Thanks again for not thinking I am a horrible mother. 🙂

  4. hugs, mama. this parenting thing sure is a wild ride, isn’t it?

    i definitely don’t think you are a horrible mother. you are so patient and loving with your kids. there comes a time, i think, when sometimes you have to try something different, even if you never thought you would do that something, in order to keep your sanity. you’ve obviously exhausted all other means of trying to soothe cole, so you did what you had to do.
    i do think that letting an older child cry a bit is a LOT different than letting a 6 week old or even 6 month old baby CIO.

    thanks for having the courage to write about this. i am betting it will help others. i still need to put together my post of everyone’s truthful posts. that will be coming soon.

  5. My first time here (via Babble’s Strollerderby). I FEEL YOUR PAIN. My son Luca sounds just like Cole. He’ll be 2 next week, and he’s a fair sleeper now, but that first year was truly awful. I could never really rest (even if he slept for a good while) because I just knew that piercing cry was coming.

    After trying sleep training a couple of times along the way, I got desperate when he was 11.5 months and decided to let him cry it out. Terrible, guilty, mean mommy. But it worked for him. After a few nights, he decided to let go and sleep all night. Whether it was because I let him cry or because he was just finally ready, I don’t know. But it was literally one of the happiest moments of my life when I realized that I was going to get a decent night’s sleep on a regular basis.

    My first is actually a pretty good sleeper and always has been, so I thought (of course) that I was doing all the right things! But each child is unique and has to be dealt with in ways that work for him/her. I wish I had encouraging words for you. I really don’t, because I know how unhinged you can feel under constant sleep deprivation. But know that you are not alone — and you have a new reader! Best wishes for lovely dreaming hours . . .

  6. […] Heather of A Mama’s Blog wrote about getting Back to reality […]

  7. Amy and Ellen,

    Thank you for your kind words, and Ellen, a *double* thank you for sharing your story with me. I really thought I was almost the only one out there with a baby who did this. 🙂 It will help me to know that it won’t last forever.

    That night we tried it, and he actually slept, Cole was such a different baby the next day too. He was happy, wasn’t as clingy, and just seemed more calm. It makes me think that he isn’t and hasn’t been getting the sleep he needs.

    We tried letting him cry the next night too, but it turned out awful. He was getting worse, not better, so we stopped, I nursed him, and he went back to sleep for the rest of the night.

    I don’t think he is the “one solution fixes all” baby, but I’ll keep mixing it up, and hopefully we’ll find something that works, and I’ll keep in mind that it *might* get better after the first year.

    Welcome to my blog as well, and again THANK YOU to everyone for their support. 🙂

  8. […] Heather of A Mama’s Blog wrote about getting Back to reality […]

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