I am one stumped mama. I am also a very tired mama, rarely having had more then 3 hours of sleep strung together in nearly 10 months. And therein lies the mystery: I don’t get what this child is up to at night, or know how to fix it. Let me explain…
First off, we have recently achieved two great breakthroughs: E2 is now taking a daily nap, which just wasn’t happening at all only a few weeks ago, and she is going to bed before midnight with almost-consistency. In both cases, I finally realised that I was missing her sleep-clues because they are incredibly subtle — more so than with any child I have ever known — and almost counter-intuitive, by which I mean she would behave so unsleepy that she would actually fall asleep in my arms and then wake moments later to cry with rage. She really wanted to be put down in her cot and left to sleep alone, but who ever heard of a baby who didn’t want to sleep snuggled up in her mother’s arms? But I’ve cracked that sleep-clue code, and can now get her down for a nap almost every day and to bed before midnight. Bingo!
But there’s more mystery with this child to unravel. When I do get her down, she sleeps for a few hours (between 2 and 3) and then wakes crying for me to feed her. I admit that I have gotten her into the bad habit of expecting a breastfeed whenever she wakes, but I am not beating myself up over that — she had so much intestinal trouble when she was younger and would scream in pain through the night, and breastfeeding was the only thing that soothed her, so we had to go with that, bad habits or not.
But of course, it’s left me with a legacy of a child who now expects that feed whenever she wakes in the night. So she wakes me up crying insistantly after perhaps 2½ hours, and then again after another 2½ — by now it’s getting on for 5am or so. Then — and here is the thing — then she becomes the polar opposite of the baby she has been so far during the night. Once we finish that 5am-ish feed, she will usually go to sleep for 5 or 6 hours straight through. She will happily sleep until 11am or even noon, like clockwork. And, she will then wake up and not cry. When she wakes after that long morning-sleep, she simply starts talking to herself, cooing, playing with her fingers. Incredible!
That’s exactly what I need her to be doing — it’s just that I need her to do it during the night, not the morning. I mean, it’s useful during the morning (without being able to catch up on my sleep during that time, I think I would have hit rock-bottom by now), but I need to figure how to get her to do that long sleep during the dark hours of the night, and then… maybe, maybe… to wake up happy and content instead of crying.
But I am clueless as to why she’s in this bizarre pattern, and equally clueless as to how to alter it. Please, does anyone have any bright ideas?