Monday, June 18, 2007

a new mom's attempt at survival part V: avoiding meltdowns

it's been awhile since i've blogged. this is partly due to the fact that we've had guests in our guest room/computer room for over a week and mostly due to the fact that i haven't felt like i've had much positive news to blog about. however, i have decided that i will no longer worry about my blog being all happy and cheerful all the time. i'm about to become completely honest here, so if you're looking for a pick me up type of story, you may just want to skip this post and meander over to darla's blog instead :)

in the owner's manual that God accidentally forgot to send along with my son, there would have been an entire chapter dedicated to Meltdowns. a meltdown, in tristan's case, is when he begins to cry and then wail and then scream with no end in sight. nothing seems to comfort him and at times he just won't stop crying. a trick i've learned is to distract him enough so that his screams lessen, then as soon as they do, i quickly pop him on the breast. this works perhaps half of the time. the other half of the time, i seem to melt down shortly after tristan does.

there have been many suggestions as to the cause of his cries. acid reflux? lactose intolerance? allergies? hunger? pain? too hot? too cold? oh, the list goes on and on. i now know my son well enough to understand the cause: its simply that he has a VERY difficult time falling asleep. this leads to overtiredness which leads to even more tears. its a very tricky business, finding the exact moment when he's tired enough to go to sleep, but not so tired that he'll melt down. the planets must be alligned just so in order for him to fall asleep unaided. i've spent the past 5 1/2 months trying to "solve" this problem and i am completely exhausted.

about 3 weeks ago i decided that it was just too difficult for my baby to fall asleep on his own like i've been trying to help him do. he was having sometimes 3 meltdowns per day and i felt like i just couldn't cope anymore. i decided to do things the "old fashioned" way and just nurse him to sleep. it took a couple of days for him to learn to fall asleep like that, but once he did it was heavenly. along with feeding to sleep, i changed from a feeding schedule to demand feeding. he never melted down. the answer to his every cry was more milk. he fell asleep peacefully and i finally got the hours of alone time that i so craved. everything was working out great until he began waking up in the middle of his nap, realizing that i was no longer nursing him. he'd cry out and i'd come to him and nurse him back to sleep. this went on for a few days and then, horror of horrors, he began doing this during the night. was he hungry? i no longer knew because he wasn't on a schedule anymore. i just kept feeding him back to sleep over and over. it got so bad that one night he woke up EVERY 40 MINUTES ALL NIGHT LONG! every time he stirred at night, he'd begin to cry for me. he no longer knew how to put himself back to sleep; he relied on me to do it for him.

that night we both got a total of about 2 hours sleep. the next day, because he was so overtired, he refused to nap. i'd feed him to sleep and he'd be awake, crying 10 minutes later. it was really quite awful. i kept calling my mom and friends, just sobbing on the phone with them. i don't know what i was looking for from them. i suppose i just didn't want to feel so all alone. that day josh and i decided that we were done with feeding him to sleep. we were going to take drastic action and finally just let him cry it out. i've never felt comfortable with the idea of letting my child cry himself to sleep, but i knew that we both needed sleep and i was willing to get it at any cost.

that evening he started to cry. josh suggested i take a bath and close the door so i couldn't hear him. he cried and cried. i was shocked at the intensity he maintained. there was no winding down or slowing. he just kept wailing. an hour passed. it was so hard to listen to. then another 30 minutes. there was no end in sight. finally, after crying for 1 hour and 45 min, i went into his room and just laid my hand on his little heaving chest. i wiped the tears from his face and started talking to him in a soothing voice. within minutes he was silent and then he dropped off to sleep. i was quite excited. sure, it was difficult, but if that's all it would take, i knew i could handle it. well, unfortunately he woke up every 1-2 hours that night and cried and cried each time. i kept trying to soothe him with my voice, but it didn't always work well.

the next day, after another 2 hours of sleep all night, he just kept crying. he was obviously over-tired and just couldn't seem to drift off. he'd occasionally fall asleep from crying, only to awaken 10 minutes later screaming again. after another hour and 45 min crying session, he completely lost his voice. on top of that, he seemed to be getting a cold. that was THE END of trying to let him cry it out. i was SO done...the poor little guy could only make little baby kitten sounds from his raw throat. he was so miserable and tired, my heart just broke for him. some would say i didn't try it long enough, but i don't care. crying it out is not for me.

that night, every time he cried, i comforted him by picking him up and holding him close. as soon as he stopped crying, i'd put him back in his crib, only to pick him up again moments later as he started crying again. it was exhausting, but i felt so much better being there for him instead of leaving him all alone. he slept better that night, but i found that i just couldn't fall asleep! turns out that the new medication i was taking for my post partum depression caused sleeplessness. completely worn out, i prayed "God, i know that you said you wouldn't give us more than we can handle. well, i believe that somthing's gotta change real soon because i'm about to lose it!" only hours later, the answer to my prayer came. my mom called to tell me that she was flying down the very next day to help me out!!

having my mom here was such a God send! tristan took to her as if he's known her all along. she helped me with my new method of comforting him to sleep, which was becoming much more difficult since he was so sick. once he began feeling better, things started really looking up! i got tristan on a 4 hour feeding schedule instead of 3 hours and that seemed to help a lot. he began sitting on his own and was such a joy to play with. my mom showed me again how important it is just to enjoy my baby. and most of all to RELAX!! i started taking a lower dose of medication, so i was able to fall asleep again. tristan still has meltdowns every now and then, but i now feel like i am better able to handle them. the pick up/put down method is teaching him that i'm here for him, but that he must fall asleep in his crib.

so i suppose this post does have a happy ending after all. it also should expain why i haven't been blogging or commenting much lately. for some reason, the 6 month mark sticks out in my mind as a time when things should be a lot easier. i'm not holding my breath. but i am most definitely hoping.


Kathy said...

Hi Heidi, This is your'Pioneer Girls pal' Kathy. I have enjoyed reading your blog. My heart goes out to you with the sleepless nights and unrestful days you have been having. You are doing a great job of being Momy to Tristan. I was very lucky to have contented babies for the most part but I know that is not reality for all young parents. One thing I want to tell you is to do what you feel is right for your baby. I am sometimes dissapointed in people who feel that all babies have to be on a strict schedule or always just lie down awake to go to sleep. That would be such a perfect world if we could all say that. One thing I do know is that you love Tristan and you are doing everything you can to get him to sleep. I too know that this is for a season. One day you will look back and recall the sleepless nights and tired days. For now I will pray for you. How sweet of your Mom to come and help you. Your post was real and I love that. I'm sure many young Mom's can relate to frustrating times and are glad to hear they are not alone. Maybe their baby sleeps but will have a different'thing' that is wearing them out. I pray that you are encouraged today. Kathy

Jeff, Kristy, Hayley & Katelyn said...

Hi Heidi,
I just want you to know, that I am so proud of you! I am so glad your mom came down to help you, God always knows the best ways to help us out. I am so thankful I have my mom and my mom in law close, or I think I would be a basket case.
My heart goes out to you, and I pray that things will only get better from here.

Anonymous said...

Heidi, thanks for your comment. wow our babies are SO similar. Ben will have a meltdown every nap if i don't catch it in time. obviously every baby has his signs but ben will start to give this little whimper i will first give him his soother and then when he whimpers a little more it is right to bed. now i am blessed with a baby who goes down really well, but only if he goes down on time otherwise... MELTDOWN. I found that ben did not calm down very well when sleeping on his back (almost like he couldn't block out the rest of the world) so i started putting him on his tummy to sleep which made ALOT of difference... but i know that is not for everyone. just wondering how many times tristan is getting up at night with the pick up put down method. i felt like we were making some progress with it, but we just came back from visiting grandma and grandpa and ben was up like every hour.... AHHHH!! hoping things will go back to normal tonight. also how did you stretch his feeding times. i have tried it and sometimes he can go longer and sometime he can't. so ben eats between 3 and 4 hours. also wondering if i can make you a link. i need to be reading your blog more often. it is actually encouraging to know that there are other babies like ben. my mom also taught me the need for being RELAXED. sorry for the novel.

Sorlil said...

oh my heart really goes out to you, I've been really lucky with S in the sleeping dept, I don't know how I would have coped if I didn't get the sleep so I really admire your positive attitude. S originally was having mini meltdowns so I moved onto feed on demand also which worked and when he woke in the night I would give him his pacifier, and he loves his pacifier! I'm really glad you're mum's there, that's what family's are for and I pray things will get better. x

Jennifer said...

and here I thought you were just watching tv all the time. how awful of me.
good for you for getting the help you need...and for not worrying about documenting about your storms rather than constant sunshine. truth be told blogs that are all sunshine seem unreal to me.

Bonnie said...

That sounds so hard! You're doing a good job. Keep at it. I'm so glad A. Judy could help you out for a bit.
I can already envision 20 years down the road how badly I would want to help my daughter if she was going throuh something like this... nothing like a mother's love!

Anonymous said...

Heidi --
I'm not speaking from a mom's perspective, but thought this little advice might help. When I took a course in college child education, I did a full report on the Mozart music & babies. They have done numerous reports on how soothing the music is to the babies and the results it's had on them. I know there are many different disks out there "Baby Mozart" and I'm thinking maybe you should give it a try. Again, not coming from a mom, just a caring friend.
With lots of Love,

Shannon said...

I'm so glad your mom was able to come. Hopefully one day I can be Ellie's hero.

No advice, just hugs and prayers. I have many many days where I look around and just wonder what I am going to do to get through it all. It is all worth it. Every single sleepless night- but in the moment you just wonder.

Z-Mama said...

Heidi, I'm here for you too, don't forget that...only a phone call away. If you ever need or want a break, call me. If you ever need advice, call me. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, call me. If you ever need some company or help, call me. I've been through it all too: sleepless nights, sleepless days, meltdowns, sickness, etc., and I am here on the other side now to do whatever I can to help others. Honestly, I am here for you for what ever you might need.

running wildly said...

My sweet girl, you are doing what every mom does. We try to problem solve. I am praying for you, and hope the meds are doing their job. I'm here if you want to call.

Lovella said...

Thank you Judy, I am so glad that you went to help Heidi.
Oh I just felt teary reading your post. Only a mommy who has had a colicky baby really knows your pain. How can those babies cry so much.
I hope those meds do the trick for you and I do pray that peace will soon come to your home for good.
You are a wonderful mom, there is no doubt. Your love shines through, hang in there, this too shall pass. I know.

Naomi said...

My heart goes out to you Heidi. Your little guy reminds me of Luke (the little boy I take care of) at his age. Only Luke would sometimes stop crying if I held him and held him some more. He's now 18 monthes and is the most joyful, sweet tike and he sleeps.:)
Anyway, take hope Tristan will stop at some point. :)
My prayers are with you.

Yvonne&Eric said...

Hi Heidi!
I've been reading your past blog entries from the time you find out you were blog(I got your link fom another blog I read). I always love reading about other mom's. I was wondering if I could be added to see Tristan's pictures. If you don't want to because you have no idea who I am, then I totally understand. You can check me out at my blg
Hopefully things get better for you soon. I remember nights of pacing with my daughter, myself crying and praying that she would sleep. Continue to follow your gut - it will serve you well.

Yvonne&Eric said...

P.S. That first sentence should read "I've been reading your blog since the time you found out you were pregnant" :P