Monday, October 13, 2008

oh, help!

i have been told that my blog has scared people away from wanting to have children. i have also been told that i do a little too much complaining on my blog. i can totally see why people would say this. i've said before that i have a hard time being anything but perfectly honest on here. i have always found writing to be a great way of venting for me. even as a young girl, i would rarely write in my diary unless something completely riveting or completely devastating had happened. to tell you the truth, most of my diaries are filled with tear stained words of heartbreak and sadness, not because i was sad all of the time, but because that's when i was most inclined to put my feelings to words. for those that dislike my honest and complaining posts, feel free to stop reading here because i have something going on that i absolutely HAVE to get off of my chest!

yes, it involves my son. and oh! it just so happens to involve sleep as well! some people seem to manage fine on just 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night, but i've always been a girl who needs my 8 hours in order to function properly. this, i believe, is why tristan's "sleep issues" have been such a thorn in my side. presently, my dear son goes to sleep without my presence, usually at around 7:30pm. he awakens in a decently good mood and goes back down for a nap somewhere around noon-ish. this nap usually lasts 2 hours. all of this sounds pretty normal except for the fact that he almost never sleeps past 6am.

tristan is definitely classified as an early riser. he is wide awake in the wee hours of the morning and seems to function fine on only 9 hours of sleep per night. when he wakes up after 5am, i breathe a sigh of relief. when he wakes up before 5am, which has been the case most of the time lately, i feel like crying. for some reason, when the alarm clock shows a 4 in the front, it seems much more of an unearthly hour that when it shows a 5. this is all psychological, i understand, and i've been trying to fight my hatred of the 4:30 mornings. in a recent chat with my husband, we both agreed that this has been going on for so long (over 6 months, i believe) and we have tried so many different ways to change it, that it is time to just accept the early mornings. i try really hard to think of how some people do get up that early to go to work. and, being that i'm a stay at home mom, tristan is my "job", so i just so happen to have an occupation that requires me to get up early. i also frequently remind myself of all of the women who would gladly wake up at 2am every morning if it meant they could have a child to call their own. or those moms who care for sick or handicapped children who are required to sacrifice much of their sleep for their little one's needs.

these thoughts guilt me into halting my mind's continuous quest for new answers that may solve the early waking habit. this morning, it was 4:05 when tristan and i came downstairs. i had wanted to spend more time with josh last night, so had gone to bed later than my usual 9:00. i was tired and grumpy. but i turned the tv on to the wiggles, kissed my little boy's head, and opened the novel i'm reading to the bookmarked page. soon the wiggles waved bye-bye, which led to painfully sad cries from my son. then emily yeung came on and he was momentarily distracted by emily picking strawberries. silly me, i encouraged the distraction by saying "ooooh, tristan look at those yummy strawberries!" before i knew it, he was on his feet, pulling me from my comfy place on the couch, into the kitchen and pointing franticaly to the fridge where, 2 days ago a bowl of strawberries from gran's garden had sat. of course he had already polished those off, but he still wanted me to open the fridge. he pointed to every container in there and i obligingly opened every one saying "see, no strawberries! tristan ate them all." when every container had been opened, he melted into a puddle on the kitchen floor and cried his little eyes out. i scooped him up into my arms and walked back to the living room fighting tired tears myself. jealous thoughts of other people's kids who sleep from 7:30pm-7:30am and then nap for 3 hours haunted my brain while i kept trying to banish them. and then i was reminded of that looming event coming up that could make 4am wake-ups seem like a lovely dream: Daylight Savings Time.

i knew right then and there that i would be posting a "help me" blog. i need suggestions that i haven't tried yet, or perhaps i need to re-try some things i've already tried. i need to somehow push this little boy's timetable forward by only an hour or so. because i cannot imagine how i would cope with a series of 3am morning times.

i'll give you a bit of an idea of how tristan's day goes so you can suggest changes: i'll pretend that he is awake at 4:30. he is in his crib, chatting/crying, but not seemingly tired. if i leave his room to let him cry it out, he doesn't stop and his cries wake up josh and possibly the neighbors on the other side of our wall. if i sit in the room with him, he calls for daddy. he will not sleep in our bed, we've tried that as well. no matter what, he refuses to let me lay him back down in his crib. once he's up he's UP! so we go downstairs and we do breakfast and wait and wait for the sun to rise and for daddy to wake up. by 9:30 or 10:00 he is really quite tired. in fact, if we're in the car at that time he will definitely fall asleep, so i try not to be driving at that time. my intention is to "stretch him" to a more normal nap time so that he won't be over tired at his bedtime. he naps from 11:30-1:30 and most often does not wake up happy. if he happens to nap for over 2 hours, he is much happier. in the evening, he gets a big burst of energy after dinner and before his bath time. we let him run around outside or else he wrestles with daddy in order to get some of that energy out. then its bath time and bedtime and asleep nearly always by 7:30.

yesterday he awoke at 5am (HOORAY!) and napped from 12-2:15. he was a very happy, well rested boy in the afternoon, so i thought it would be a perfect opportunity to try a later bedtime. he was asleep by 8pm last night, not over-tired at all. and then up at 4am today. that's only 8 hours of sleep. surely that isn't enough for a child his age??!! last week, while josh was gone he was so tired one evening that i decided to put him to bed early, at 7pm. he slept until 5, so the next day i did the same thing and he slept till 5:45! i was thrilled. the third day i kept his nap and bedtime at precisely the same time and.....he was wide awake at 4:30.

i understand that my child is not a machine that can be programmed to give the same results every day. i understand that how much sleep he needs depends on a lot of things, such as how long his nap was, or how much energy he spent during the day. but surely 8pm-4am isn't quite normal?? there have been days where he hasn't fallen asleep until 8:30 or even 9:00, and he is usually up at the same time anyhow, just much more cranky.

one thing i will NOT try again is to let him cry it out in the mornings. he just isn't tired enough then, plain and simple and i know i wouldn't have the heart to stick with it. other than that, please comment any suggestions you can think of. i appreciate it so much.

p.s. after the strawberry meltdown, he ate an entire apple and then at 5:10 i brought him upstairs, read him a storybook and said goodnights just like i do for naptime. he is fast asleep and it is 6:10. i've never tried this before, and am thrilled that it worked....hoping that perhaps i can use the later wake-up this morning to shift both his nap and bedtime even later tonight just to see if that will help?? of course it could completely backfire on me again and we could have an even earlier morning tomorrow...


Kristal Sawyer said...

Oh man, sleep issues are SO frustrating!!! I know I've had it pretty easy with Miss Nat, but lately the combo of Landon being up multiple times at night, and then with Natalie being up early (well, I think before 7 is early...)

Does Tristan eat before going to bed? Could he be hungry in the early morning and that's why he's waking up so early? Sometimes I give Natalie a bowl of cereal before bed to make sure her tummy is nice and full for the night. Just an idea...hope you can figure something out!!!

Shannon said...

If someone is scared off of having children, then too bad. And you don't complain too much. This is YOUR blog. so there :) I think you have a positive outlook when remembering that this IS your job- not many people remember that.

I haven't slept much in the past 6 years. I know each child had phases of sleeplessness, and then sometimes they overlap. Quite often they overlap. It is enough to make a person insane.

I have suggestions and advice but I'm sure you've heard it all and tried it all. So really, just prayers for peace and patience.

Natalie said...

Oh, how frustrating! There's been a couple times over the last little while that Liam wakes early- but I can tell by his cries that it's hunger. He's become a picky eater at dinner, so he isn't eating as much to help carry him thru till breakfast. I give him a bottle, and either he'll fall back asleep when he's done(which is usually the case) or he's up. If he's up, I usually let him cry it out- because after 5-10 he's sleeping...that doesn't help much, because crying it out doesn't work for you. But maybe the food thing will- a little snack or drink at bed time, or in the wee hours might help??? Take care- I hope you find a solution that works for you!

Meredith said...

I'm with Shannon, it's your place say what you like. And people afraid of having kids have other issues than what they read on your blog.
As for advice, I don't think I have any, my kids are early risers and people don't get how I do it, they are up anywhere between 5:30 and 6:30. The important part for me is go to bed early too. My kids are older, I'd like them to read the clock and stay there til theres a 7 but I haven't mastered that yet.
Hope whatever you find works.

Grandma J. said...

I am with the "maybe hungry?" opinion. Haven't really thought about that for Tristan, but he wouldn't have reacted the puddle way if he wasn't hungry. Sarah would sometimes have a snack middle of the night, then go back to sleep. Worth a try.

Lovella said...

First of all .. dont' change a thing on your blog. . .I am of the opinion that your blog is insprirational. . thus my blog.
So, yes, I do recall the very early mornings at my house too. . From the time it was safe. . .I let Terrence go play. . but that might have been after about 3 years old. .not sure, it is all very vague. But, mornings were always around 5.
I think that maybe the food is the issue for him if he was that happy to eat an apple. I might try cheerios and milk and a story and then bedtime again tomorrow. . but shoot, it would be really handy if he could do that himself.
Other than that. . .it really is important that Josh gets up with him. .once in a while. . .and let you sleep. It might be "your" job. . .but you need rest.

Anika said...

Well, I think you can say whatever you want on your blog, especially venting. That's what makes your posts so authentic.

I am not afraid to have kids because of your blog. I do think you are very honest with your experiences, which is actually quite helpful. I think it would be better to enter motherhood (or any experience) not expecting perfection.

My sister's boys are older, and they have a digital alarm clock in their room. I think they aren't supposed to leave their room before 6 or 7, I can't remember what specific time. But, and this is the tricky part, she changed that clock back, so that when the time was actually 7:30 (or whatever time she picked), their clock only read 7! Brilliant. Until one day when they asked why the times on the clocks were different :)

My first guess for waking up early would have been hunger, too. Maybe something like oatmeal before bed?

rachel joy said...

I think the snack thing might help too. I struggle with it myself, but I like how you did the apple, then right back to the naptime routine. that shows him that although he's hungry, he still needs to sleep again. I was so pleased the day when Max would just be awake himself, watching a video. But that took a while for him to just let me rest a little longer. Even if I snoozed on the couch, he didn't want me to close my eyes. But the good news is that he'll grow out of it. He won't always depend on you so much in the morning. That sounds like a pat answer but for many weird and wonderful things with these little creatures, it's the only answer.

rachel joy said...

forgot to say that now both boys will be up in the morning watching something or even just playing, and I can stay in my bed for quite a while before they start pestering me to get up! I usually give them a cup of milk and a banana or toast and they're happy.

Janet said...

I agree with Lovella, you need your sleep too. Daniel and I would switch off every other night when Kolby would wake up crying or get up early.

Also, i remember Kolbys sleeping habits changing around Tristan's age, he became afraid of the dark, I had to get a night light, otherwise he would wake up screaming. My kids didn't use a blanket burrito, do you think that might be waking him up or if he didn't have it on he would be more inclined to play by himself in his crib for a little while?

I don't know, kids are all so different. I hope that someone's suggestion will work for you, 4 am is defiantly too early for me too, I would be crying to.

mar_neufeld said...

Have you tried being stern with him . . . maybe tell him somehow that when it's dark it's still sleep time?? Just a thought. Also, not sure I would start the middle of the night snack - then that would become a habit that you wouldn't want. I agree with Lovella - switch off with Josh so you can catch up on your sleep!

rachel joy said...

I should clarify I agree with Kristal on making sure his tummy is full before bed. Middle of the night snacking is no good, so hopefully a good snack before bed will help. Just not too much liquids, as that will backfire on you when you want to start potty training. Oh joy!

Jennifer said...

One blessed day they will wake up and make thier own breakfast...and you will be in bed the entier time. This dream can be yours 7 to 8 years down the road.

Charlene said...

Heidi, your posts are great! I love reading them.

I agree with the others that he might be hungry. Sounds like what you did worked.

And I too am envious of the mother's whose children sleep from 7-7 and then have a 3 hour nap. Just so you don't feel alone..Joshua is almost always up by 6 and the last few mornings it has been 5 and he only naps for 1hr to 11/2 hrs (i wish i could extend his nap, but don't really know how to do it). He never wakes up happy from his naps either, but like you i don't know how to get him to sleep more--it's not like i can force him.
One piece of advice i can give you is don't push the bedtime later. I have found it often results in earlier wake times not later. In fact i find the days joshua goes down earlier are the days he sleeps longer in the morning (for the most part anyway) and almost garanteed if he goes to bed to late, he'll be up by 5.
feel for you Heidi. will pray that he begins to sleep more for you:)

kelly said...

I echo the hunger suggestion. If he ate a whole apple and went down again, I would try giving him a snack before bed (and maybe see if he'll even eat more during meal times). What an incredible challenge you've been working with though, regardless of your need for a certain number of hours of sleep - 4:30 IS too early to wake up! :D
Hopefully it is the hunger issue and you're able to overcome it soon, and that Tristan soon comes to realize the joy in sleeping 12 consecutive hours a night!

Kathy said...

Hi Heidi, I think your blog is just fine a nice variety of posts.

A bedtime snack sounds good.

Does Tristan's room have black out curtains? I sewed some black out lining on Eva and Elijah's curtains. Everyone sleeps better if it stays dark.

My kids went to bed a bit later and they slept later too. You sure have an early riser!

Bless you Heidi.

Oh and I also vote for Josh taking early morning turns some of the time.

Dena said...

Ugh, you poor thing. First, let me say, that I love your blog. I agree, it's your place, if people don't like it, they don't have to read it. But I really think it's such an HONEST portrayal of motherhood and the ups and downs of life.

I would agree, that maybe a snack. I know I need a snack before bed so I can sleep good. I also agree with making black out curtains, that helped with my boys.

But mostly, It's all coming clear now. I was wondering why I'm sleeping so much now, it's because I didn't for so long! And can you believe, I actually miss those quiet house, everyone else sleeping, just snuggling with my boy moments.....what is wrong with us???? :o)

And yes, Josh giving you breaks so you can sleep or whatever, is always good, but I know that's hard when he's working.

Stepping up the prayers for you guys. {{{{{hugs}}}}}

Cherie said...

and i need 9 hours of sleep to function... oh im so excited for kids:)

Danielle said...

I haven't read other's comments, but I wanted to say "Hugs." I vent on my blog and just say how I feel and sometimes I think I come off negative or whatever...but hey, I need to vent and writing for me is feel ya.

My kids are up by 6:30am every single morning no matter what time they go to bed...but I was going to suggest that if you feed him when he wakes at 4 am or 3 am or whatever it ends up being and you sing and read story and then lay him back might save you. I think fill his tummy with breakfast and some warm milk and he will go back down. Problem is, will you be able to go back down and get a few more hours....mmmmm.

Miranda said...

Poor Heidi. Its hard. I have been exceedingly blessed one schedule, BUt its hard and it took a lot of will power.
1st of, you pay rent in your home, who care if tristons cries potentially wake someone up. IN your home, or on the other side of the wall, He is an infant, it happens:)
Secondly. Take his nap away.
I had this problem with Cheyenne.
She didnt go down at night until I got home from school at 12 and breast fed her to sleep. Then shed wake me up at 3 for another suckle and then up at 5. Granted shed go back down for a nap at 7 am, 12, and 5pm and then a short nap about 8, she controlled my life and made it hard for me to sleep more than 4 hours a night. Finally, I yanked her naps from her, I let her crawl around like zonbie baby throwing fits and screaming bacase she was so tired. Eventually shed fall asleep where she played and id let her cat nap it for like 30 minutes and then id wake her up again. By 8-8:30 she was so exhausted, shed sleep til 7:30 in the morning even missing her feedings at night.
It took about a week. She got her naps back, only 2 of them and i only let her sleep about 2 hours, ((no more)) with them.

TRust me friend it was hard at first. With 3 kids, i definitely wanted her to take a nap so i cold do errands later and have a minute of quite. But i had to show her who was boss.

try letting tristan scream it out for 20 minutes. Get him upp tomorrow morning after youve let him cry some, make a pot of coffee and pul up your boot will be a long day. Send him in the back yard to run around after breakfast. The more hes in front of the tv, the less energy hes expending. its all about the energy!!!! give him snacks, let him play play play. whenever he gets fall down tired, allow him to sleep....45 more. Then wake him up. NO matter how tired he is or how much he screams, dont let him take another nap. He will be cranky and tired. give him dinner, make sure daddy follows the same rules. give him his bath and try laying him down between 8 and 9.
after a few days youll see an improvement in his sleep time.
If after a few days he starts to sleep later, KEEP YOUR ROUTINE. wake him up when u get up, 6:-6:30, make him get the day all over. It took me one week. i promise itll work. be strong though. Remeber, the more he plays and cries, the more eergy he'll expend.
Love u

Grandma J. said...

Ummmm, I think good mothering needs to be looking after the needs of your child and sacrificing alot of your own wants. Each child is different and some have their own rythm that doesn't necessarily make your life easy. You're the best (and amazing)mom for Tristan, Heidi - keep up the good "work".

turningoveranewleaf said...

a "sometimes" reader that found your blog thru a friend of a friend. i'm compelled to comment because i SO feel for you. i too have a non-sleeper of a child. it is not easy! i can't tell you how many nights of very few hours sleep we've gotten. (my girl is 2.5 years now and we still struggle with sleep stuff).
you need to be able to write freely and openly about your joys and struggles. i have found writing to be so cathartic- it's gotten me thru postpartum depression and helped my family/friends understand a little bit more of what we're going through.
i'm hesitant to give advice, because i know that i got lots and felt so overwhelmed with all the conflicting options and scheduling.
i will tell you some stuff that has helped us manage sleep time better, and only use what you feel works for your family:
*black out blinds - YES!
*white noise- a fan works for us.
*heavy, warm blankets- the weight is supposed to make you feel grounded.
*our doctor recommended moving the the bath time to the morning. sometimes bathtime is too stimulating for some kids and actually winds them up instead of down.
*snack before bed- something with lots of carbs- like cereal, crackers & cheese. we even avoid natural sugars at bedtime (fruit).
*a super consistent bedtime routine. (maybe a morning routine?)
*visual cues that it's night/morning. closing all the blinds, turning off lights in pm/turning on lights and having him "help" you open all the blinds in the am. don't open them until 7amish or whenever you would like to declare it "morning" time.
*hook up a special kids lamp to a timer and when the light goes on (7am?) then he can get out of his bed (this might only work when he's older).
*make sure to take him outside in the am to get some sunshine and fresh air (apparently it also induces serotonin levels which helps with the sleep cycle).
*i know some of this sounds "hokey" but seriously, we've gone on 4 hours of sleep sometimes and some of these changes (recommended by our doctor at children's hospital in vancouver) helped!
ps- make sure to get some time (even a 20 minute bath/walk) to yourself- that's how i make it through each night:)

sarah_dickenson said...

Heidi, I thoroughly enjoy the honesty in your posts and agree with Anika - it's better to have a realistic view of motherhood! You aren't scaring me in the least :)
I wish I had some advice, but I only have a puppy that wakes up in the middle of the night, and a "go night night" works perfectly on her... unfortunately not on children!!
I hope you find something that works for you, I'll keep you in my prayers!

Jennifer said...

So how has it been going lately?

Alvin & Denise Engler said...

steph has good suggestions, wow. cherith has been trying to get up early too. she is 3 now though so I have been putting out some breakfast the night before and then letting her get up and go eat. she has been going back to her room & laying back in bed / playing quietly / something... while i keep sleeping.

i especially liked the visual cues idea -- like a little light on a timer and opening the blinds when its morning time.

just a little bit longer and you will be able to reason with him better and just tell him its still nighttime.

can you try to be more boring in the mornings? maybe if you werent so great to look at, he wouldnt bother getting up so early? haha.