Let the battle begin…

While I have some time to find myself, I decided to take this time to take up a battle that has been going on in my house for 4 ½ years: our child doesn’t sleep. I knew early on that all parents are sleep deprived in one way or another but it always centers on when the child is an infant. No one told me that 4 ½ years after giving birth, that I would still be existing on so little sleep. My child doesn’t stay in bed. Oh, she goes down fairly well in the evening, but just like an infant, she wakes up and comes in to our bedroom almost every 3 hours. It’s insane.

Now to understand how it all got this way, you need to understand the history of it. Lauren was 2 weeks early and a rare breach. So out went the birth plan and I had a C-section. I was in the hospital for 4 days to recover. Lauren had no real complications so we were sent home. She developed normally and slept normally for the first six months then…. She got sick. I don’t mean run of the mill cold but RSV with pneumonia. The poor kid was having a hard time breathing and had a cough that sounded like she was a 3 pack a day smoker. I remember the doctor telling me, you can take her home and give her treatments every 3 hours for the next four days, or we can put her in the hospital and the hospital staff can do it. My husband and I decided to bring her home and do it. So for almost a week, I was up every three hours, giving her treatment and just hoping it would work. She did get better but the cough never seemed to go away. So the getting up every three hours seemed to stay. She would cough so bad at night that I need to get up and sit her up so she could breathe better. My husband and did every trick in the book to prop up her mattress and help her breath better. For almost a year, we saw what seem like a million specialists and doctors to try to figure out why this beautiful little creature was still coughing like a 3 pack a day smoker. I remember the looks I would get from other parents when I coughing fit would come on. You know that look, the one of looking down your nose in judgment of another parent. There seemed to be nothing to cure her. We finally saw a pediatric pulmonologist who figured out that Lauren had a really bad lung infection that never seemed to be cured. She was put on a high dose antibiotic for four weeks. The doctor said if that didn’t work, that lung surgery would have to be done to find the reason for the infection. Three weeks went by and nothing. I was in constant contact with the doctor and we both started to make plans for Lauren to have major surgery. Three weeks and four days into the antibiotic treatment, the cough disappeared. For good measure, the doctor continued her antibiotics an extra week. The cough was gone but the effects of over a year and a half of getting up all the time coughing, Lauren had no idea how to sleep through the night.

We though the war was over but just the first battle, now battle number two was beginning. We thought, she will grow out of it, and then we tried the cry out method. That didn’t work, she figured out how to get out of the crib. We tried putting the baby gate on her door so she couldn’t get out of the room. That worked for all of four hours. She figured out that kicking the bottom of the gate would loosen it and she spent that time kicking it and then freeing herself. I won’t mention the damage she did to the door. By then both the hubby and I were just tired and gave up. I just gave in that every three hours I would have to get up and put her back in bed and just hoped and prayed that she would grow out of it.

Then, a change of insurance and a new doctor for Lauren. I was by now used to being sleep deprived. I just thought, all mothers are tired. I mentioned to the new doctor, Lauren doesn’t sleep. She was concerned. She had us try several things and still no change. So she sent us to the Stanford Sleep Clinic to see exactly what was going on. A sleep study is a scary thing for a 3 year old but Lauren went through it like a trooper. The sleep study confirmed what I knew as a mom, my kid doesn’t sleep. She was barely getting seven hours of sleep. She had sleep apnea. Not so bad that she needed a special machine but it explained why she was waking up all the time. Off to another specialist who recommended surgery to have her tonsils and adenoids removed. So August of 2010, she had surgery. The surgery was successful and she was given a clean bill of health. Lauren was breathing better but she still couldn’t sleep through the night. That was about the time that she started to refuse to go to bed at all. Night-time was a stress time in the house. A screaming child and screaming parents. We knew that the physical issues for Lauren not sleeping were gone but the psychological ones remained. Our doctor sent us to a child psychologist who was able to get us through stopping the going to bed battle but the getting up all the time remained. We have tried everything. Bribes, punishments, logic and nothing seems to work. So for the past six months we have been in survival mode. We moved the mattress from her toddler bed (she has a full bed in her room) into our room and now when Lauren gets up, we just usher her into the “little” bed in our room so I can get some sleep. It’s really hard to sleep train a 4 ½ year old when you are working full time.

So I am now tackling getting Lauren to stay in bed. Through various different parenting blogs and Parents Magazine, I was recommended the book; “The Sleep Fairy” by Janie Paterson. Since Lauren lives by fairies and princesses, I will give it a try. Concept is that you read the book with the child and if the child stays in her bed all though the night, the sleep fairy comes and leaves a little prize under her pillow. So the plan is in place. The husband is moving to the spare room while the child and I battle it out to get her to sleep in her own bed all through the night.

So here’s to hoping the “Sleep Fairy” can cast a spell on my child and we can get some normal sleep in our house. Once that happens, maybe I can convince the hubby to have another child. Hahahahaha, yeah I know, crazy idea.

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  • Shayna John  On March 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    My son (6 1/2) still comes into our bed every night. Granted, it’s not every 3 hours, and he goes to sleep in his own bed, but without fail, he winds up in our bed somewhere between midnight and 6am. My husband doesn’t mind since he pretty much did the same thing with his parents when he was young, but I’d prefer if my son stayed in his own bed throughout the night.
    I read an article a few years back that calmed me down a little…maybe it’ll do the same for you (or maybe not)….
    A woman had a son who slept in her bed every night. Then she came to the realization that someday he would grow out of it, and she may come to miss the close-ness they had. By the age of 7, he was out of her bed…totally..and she did miss him.
    Now I don’t know if it’ll happen by the time my son is 7 (6 months from now), but I know someday it will happen…and I’ll miss him.

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