Liam turned seven months old yesterday. He is doing all the things he should be at seven months, sitting, rolling, reaching, pushing up and turning in a circle on his belly, eating messy solids, feeding himself crackers, holding babbling conversations with his mother and brother. Yes, everything but sleeping through the night. In fact, he barely sleeps at night.
Liam continues to awaken every couple of hours all night long. I nurse him around nine pm and he falls into a deep, comfortable sleep. He wakes screaming before midnight. I then try various methods to get him to go back to sleep, but he is up again around 2:30 and again before 5 am. I generally avoid the "cry it out" method because the few times I've tried it, he's cried for over an hour and woken his brother to boot. (Presently, however, it is 1 am and he has been crying for forty five minutes.)
Of course, seven months of this sleep (or lack of) pattern has taken it's toll. Especially now that I am back to work and everyone must be dressed, fed and out of the house by 7:45. There is no shortage of advice about getting a baby to sleep through the night. I've tried it all and feel like a failure.
At two months, one expects a baby not to sleep through the night. That's perfectly acceptable; par for the course. However, one feels the end is in sight. Surely the baby will sleep 6 hours soon. Each week his system gets a little more mature. And of course (one says prayerfully), he'll sleep through the night when he starts cereal at four months. Just hold on and mark the days on a calendar. But when the baby is still not sleeping more than 2 hours in row at seven months, something is wrong. Not with the baby; at seven months something must be wrong with the mommy.
That's how I feel. I'm too embarassed and ashamed to tell people that I can't get Liam to sleep through the night. At seven weeks, it's nature; at seven months, it's nurture. It's my fault. Moms (and non-moms, too) swear that if I leave him to cry it out for three nights, he'll be cured. "Learning to comfort himself in the dark and gaining a coping skill for life." (By the way, he is still screaming upstairs.)
I feel guilty about everything. Guilty about the floorplan that forces everyone to sleep upstairs in two rooms divided by a wall that looks solid, but must be made of paper for all it's sound conducting properties. Guilty that my nursing does not keep him comfortable for more than two hours. Guilty that I can't tough it out and force Liam to do so by sleeping downstairs in the third bedroom. I can't seem to take that step. I've never wanted to sleep on separate floors from my children.
There is no one to give me respite in the middle of the night. And of course, whose fault is that? What if sleeping a maximum of 2 hours is a sign of a physical disorder? Sensory integration problems that will follow Liam through out his life? These things keep me up even during the few hours the baby sleeps.
The load of laundry that I started twenty minutes after Liam began tonight's crying has finished spinning. He is still screaming. If I go upstairs and feed him, he will stop and go back to sleep until 3:30 or so. I will get a couple of hours of sleep. But I will have reinforced his crying and wakefulness. Screaming for an hour in the middle of the night = nursing and cuddling. At that rate, he will never get a full night's sleep.
But wait, it's finally quiet. I'll go back upstairs now. Maybe this is it, maybe we will all get a few solid hours of rest.