Struggling with Sleepless Nights

Toby's first birthday is in a couple weeks.  He does not sleep through the night.  He never has.  Not once this past year.  It's been better the last few weeks, but prior to that, he averaged waking up 3-6 times per night.  Here are some thoughts that may or may not be helpful to someone else in the same circumstance.

  1.  This is hard.  Very very hard.  We know something about sleep deprivation after years of medical residency.  That also is very hard.  This is probably harder, because it never stops.
  2. This has been a little easier for us because Ben also didn't sleep through the night until 15 months old (Actually, it's been harder because of the same reason).  What I mean is that a significant part of the stamina battle is the despair that "my child will NEVER again sleep through the night".  Corollary: "I will NEVER again sleep through the night."  Things were such a struggle with Ben, and yet the large majority of nights where Toby was waking up, Ben was sleeping peacefully.  And so will Toby.  It.  Will.  Happen.
  3. The perfectly natural response of many people to hearing our difficulties is "Wow, that's hard.  What do you think the problem is?  Have you tried…?"  We would prefer them to stop after "Wow, that's hard."  And maybe follow with, "Would you like some coffee?"  It's very natural, but another significant part of the battle is being plagued by the feeling that this is due to something we are or are not doing.  And such innocent questions make us doubt ourselves all over again.  And yet we have tried everything.  Let him cry.  Pick him up.  Put him down awake.  Put him down asleep.  Absence of sleep cues.  Presence of sleep cues.  Quiet separate environment.  Different foods.  Sleeping in bed.  Swaddling.  Unswaddling.  White noise.  And every slight improvement gave birth to false hope which was followed up until those hopes dissipated into another sleepless night.  

So we have decided that it is not something we are or are not doing.  And we are done with that.  For whatever reason that we do not understand, God is allowing this to happen.  And we pray it ends soon.  But we will try to trust him in the ambiguity until then, believing that good things can come out of trusting in difficult circumstances when God is weaving his story.

It is exhausting.

But it will not last.

And it is not your fault or a deficit in your parenting.