I want to say that I did everything the same regarding my son’s sleep experience as I did for my first born – except I can’t – because everything has been different. Arlo has battled severe reflux that had him crying for hours on end as an infant, and even occasionally (once every other week or so) now as an almost 8-month-old. Whereas my daughter was formula fed starting around 4 and a half months old, my son is still breastfeeding. And in general, Arlo just sleeps less than Everly did when she was his age.
Everything about sleep is different with Arlo and it has been since the day we brought him home. I remember never really feeling sleep deprived after my daughter was born and by 6 months old, I was waking up briefly about 4am every morning to give her a bottle and then it was quickly back to sleep where we all awoke fresh and happy at 7:30am the next morning. I can only dream of such things these days.
Most nights, Arlo goes down around 7pm. If I’m lucky, I get about 2 hours before I hear his cry from the bedroom. Most of the time, I can nurse him back to sleep although sometimes his gas pains/reflux will wake him up and stir him into a painful crying fit that can last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. Between his bedtime and mine, I can usually count on three nursing sessions to get him back to sleep. Once I’m in bed, he usually wakes around 3:30, 5 and 6:30 to eat again. It’s rarely, if ever, that he sleeps 4 hours straight.
I’ve never felt as sleep deprived in my life, as I did in the weeks and months following Arlo’s birth. Truthfully, I feel like I never caught up. I can’t recall the last time I felt like I got a real, solid night’s rest. Whereas my daughter was sleeping in her crib in her room by 6 months old, Arlo shares our bed with us out of necessity. My husband and I never planned to bedshare with our kids, but it’s a survival technique at this point. Getting to Arlo quickly and letting him nurse while I doze is the only way I can manage to get enough sleep to function during the day. If I had to get up every time, get him out of a crib, nurse him sitting in a chair, and then put him back – what limited sleep I’m getting now would be cut in half.
I’ve read all the sleep books that are out there, but none of them seem to really address our current situation – which is that I have a baby who is a light sleeper, wakes often to eat, still battles reflux at almost 8 months old and prefers to sleep curled up next to mama over any other bed. Creating routines or earlier bedtimes have made no difference in the frequency of his waking. I’m doing what I have to do to get by these days but I want to believe that there is hope for a restful night’s sleep in our future. One of these days, somewhere down the road, he will sleep longer than 3 hours at a time? RIGHT? Someone please tell me it’s going to happen.
For tips, check out Babble’s Baby Sleep-Training Guide!