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.


tscarlet said...

Oh, wow. That is a lot of sleeplessness. Shall I throw a box of chocolate covered espresso beans in my backpack to bring you? I have heard you can get coffee there just fine, but this calls for the next level of caffeine delivery. :)

Timothy said...

Stopping at "would you like some coffee" is the best way to stop...for a lot of things. Hoping the max you have left is 5 months and then sleep for everyone.

Timothy said...

Oops Mom used my computer, that response was Mariah

Babers Meek said...

Hey i kinda hate to be this guy... especially since i haven't been involved in you guys lives other than to read your updates... BUT if it's possible (which it may not be) I'd like to recommend having your children adjusted by a chiropractor. Our oldest never slept through the night until she started receiving adjustments. We go weekly and we've seen a lot of benefits from it. I know it's not the be all end all answer (which some people act like it is...) but i've gone from being totally skeptical of chiropractic to 100% converted.
Anyway, it may not be an option where you are, but if you're open to it, I totally think it could be a God thing. (I'll stop there.) And honestly i feel bad even posting this because at this point you'd probably just like to hear encouragements like "it's not your fault" and "don't worry things will work out." AND TRULY even though i'm not around i know you guys are great parents who do the VERY BEST for your children and YES it will work out... But it would be a shame if this is something that you guys could do, but didn't because you didn't know about it... Honestly it has really revolutionized our family's health.
Also, since it may be a while before i comment again... I'm really proud of you guys and the work you are doing! It truly is amazing!
Also i'll be praying for sleep for you tonight.
Also this is a really long message.
Also I hope you aren't offended.
Also I am done now.
Also Bye
Also PS (stands for post script... incase anybody asks you.)

edgeofthedawn said...

Ah! This is actually such an I encouragement to this new mom who often asks "am I doing something wrong?" when Lydia doesn't want to sleep or follow any sort of schedule other people think she should be on. :) At least know your suffering - or at least the wisdom you are learning through it - is blessing me today. Pray for all of you often!

Anonymous said...

It is awful and it is so easy to second guess yourself. I've started asking God if he wants to sleep train Ellis because I'm done! :) Love you guys so much. It will end...and then you'll (we'll) feel more sane!

-J said...

We are only 3 months into this, and I'm considering him waking up twice each night a success. But we still have the "helpful" comments, and you're spot on! "Wow, that's hard," is a good place to stop. I hope I'm growing in two ways -- graciousness in replying to everyone, and empathy towards others in the future. It really helped me to read your story, and to know that two highly educated medical professionals with parenting experience have this trouble, too. May you find ALL you need in Christ!

Sarah Halter said...

I so understand. Daniel didn't sleep for even longer and we're 16 months in with Micah now. I understand the self-doubt, the "shoulds," the desperation. A big struggle for me the first time around was the temptation to question God's love for me because I pleaded with Him to allow Daniel to sleep. I knew he could and he chose not to. Looking back, I see how he carried me through. But it is so, so, so hard.

Anonymous said...

This is just further proof that you guys really are real life super heroes!!! I knew it! God has put you where you are, and you "get" (translation: suffer to the point of triumph) the unique experience of being more reliant on Him for EVERYTHING than most of us will ever have to be. You are so rich in your relationships with Him. Your hearts are so full of Him. He leads you into the hardest of the hard, where most of us are never qualified to tread. Is there anything naturally comfortable in your life? I doubt it. (I might go insane. You, however, rebound and grown even more!) How strong is your faith? How much more deeply do you know Him than I do? I am beyond amazed at you and your family. I couldn't be more proud of my dear friends. Lord, let them all sleep soon! In the meantime, Lord, give them peace and quiet and rest in their hearts more deeply than they have known in years. And, Lord, please give them stamina better than a triple shot coffee but maybe also some of that! I just can't get over you guys. LOVE YOU! - Kim

Anonymous said...

Once when Xavier was small, about 2 months, he slept through the night. I woke up engorged and soaked, (to the point of lets all get up at 4am and change the sheets) and panicing. This too shall pass. And I'd love to have coffee with you. :) Hilary

Daniel Lee said...

We are praying for your family that God may be preparing you and your family for the road ahead and that it is His will to be done. On a more practical and human level, we are praying that these sleepless nights may come to an end sooner than later so that your family may have peace to continue pursuing the work of the Lord day in and day out at full strength!

God Bless,

Daniel Lee