Monday, 30 November 2009


Or, lack of.

It's surely no news that babies bring lack of sleep. I've mentioned before that ours have awful trouble - not so much getting to sleep as staying asleep. And I knew that when we brought them home that I would be horribly sleep deprived. I used to have nightmares about it, literally - I would dream that I had to get up because my baby was crying, and then wake up for real and think 'phew! At least that's ONE good thing about having no children!' and snuggle back down.

So I was kind of prepared for the fact that I would never sleep again. What I wasn't prepared for was how it would affect me. When I've been sleep deprived before (exams, long hours at work, a thesis to write, etc etc) I've been upset, irritable, weepy and headachy. But this time... it's different. Instead of all that, I just feel like.... I'm fading away. To use a photoshop simile, I feel like I've had my opacity reduced to about 30%. I'm still here, but I'm feeling pretty...wispy. And.... unable to finish a sentence, or a thought. Or... something. (While in this weakened state, I will admit that YES I have probably been a bit too harsh on sleep-deprived new-parent friends in the past for some of the things they have done / said when I have been in particularly difficult phases of childlessness. Dangit, some of them have been crazy-insensitive, but I'm beginning to realise that hey, they were probably being equally rude to everybody - it's likely that the others just had the good sense to ignore them. I'm already freaking out a bit about who I must have already offended by both omission and comission in this twilight, catatonic state. Everybody, probably. If that includes anybody reading this, I'm really really sorry).

Anyway, this cannot continue. J has a job. I still have one or two friends left. They are waking up every HOUR. And since we've been home, their sleeping has just got worse and worse. They will only sleep on the bottle, or on my chest, and they are waking up, SCREAMING fit to shatter glass, then taking 1/2 oz and going back to sleep. Sometimes in the night they are genuinely hungry, but more often they just want to suck themselves back to sleep. And wow, I had absolutely NO idea how the whole twin-thing would just be a synergy of disaster in this area.

If someone else had written this post, say, four months ago, I would have read it, clicked my tongue and said 'oh well, adopted children, you know, I guess they are going to have sleep difficulties and you are just going to have to suck it up because of, you know, attachment and stuff'. And I'm sure that sleep and attachment are related. But I've begun to realise that other things that affect attachment are the ability to a) stand upright without wobbling b) play with my children on the floor without accidentally slipping into a coma c) have the energy to do all that attachment-therapy type talk that I memorised while I was waiting.

Oh yeah, and apparently bad sleep is at least as bad for the babies as it is for us. Worse, actually. And that's what tipped the balance for us.

(No, really).

(No, really, really).

We've bought this book (actually, we bought a few but this seems the best)

and we're going to sleep train them.

I know, I can't believe it either.

It feels like an admission of failure, even though I'm absolutely certain we're doing the right thing. I guess (like so much of the rest of this blog) I'm writing it down here because it's such an unexpected thing for me. Maybe rather than an admission of failure, it's an admission of 'maybe I didn't really know what I was talking about after all'. I'm sure it won't be the last.

But hey, did you see the bit where it says 'results in less than a week?' I'll keep you posted!


  1. C- The fact that you still find time to write an eloquent blog post (your description of "wispy" is perfect), to do research on sleep, to keep yourself and your babies going is beyond admiration. From your blog, I have gathered that you are an amazingly strong person. From where I sit, you are still amazingly strong even at 40 or 20 or 5 %, even if you don't feel like you are. You four have been through SO MUCH! I admire you.

  2. I like this post. Not for you and your sleeplessness but because it is the one thing I can point at and say "look - here is one great reason for celebrating childlessness today and savoring it while I have it." Sorry - not meant to offend you. There just aren't many opportunities to think the sentence above. I also like it because it gives the rest of us permission to read books like that (which for some weird reason seem taboo) BEFORE we bring the baby home in anticipation. Just in case. A little insurance policy. I'm terrified of being sleepless. I'm awful without 8-9 hours/night. OMG what did I sign myself up for?
    Wow, this is a really all about me comment. I wish you sleep and can't wait to hear back in a week.

  3. Some friends of mine had a baby last year, recently they were talking about some other friends of theirs with a baby who hired a sleep coach - an actual person to come to the house and coach them all through getting to sleep at night! I scoffed, but my friend said she does a lot less of that now that she has a baby of her own.

    Hope the book works for you!

  4. "The No Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley helped us. But it so does not work in a week.
    One thing to remember, everything with a baby seems like it will last forever, and then it changes. Spontaneous improvements happen, I promise.
    Wish I could come over and help... alas, stuck here in the fog in Oregon.

  5. the scariest thing about sleep deprivation is that with babies, you don't know when you will emerge on the other side. so psychologically, you don't know how to go on because you don't know how long you have to go on.

    i will say this unsolicated piece of non-wisdom: my second child, my bio son was the worst sleeper i've ever heard of. sounds A LOT like your babies. from week 1 every hour, on the hour, sometimes every 45 minutes he cried and woke up. he had a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. i read lots of books, duct taped him into a swaddling blanket, and about 7 months into his horrific sleep patterns and me actually swearing at him regularly "sleep dammit, sleep!" in the middle of the night, i found out he was lactose intolerant. like, severely. his freaking tummy hurt. so, no matter what you do to sleep train kids (which i tried like crazy) if babies are in pain, it might not work. you might have already done all your homework so you can tell me to shut up and i won't be offended. but rule out acid reflux and lactose stuff just in case. and BTW, even when I went off dairy completely, he was a crappy crappy crappy sleeper for 9 months. we got through it. you will too. i totally understand. GOOD LUCK! I really hope it works.

  6. Can you have someone come in at night and spell you guys? A baby nurse?


  7. thankfully they do start sleeping....eventually! hvae you ever heard of a sleeping hammock? There are a wide variety of models out there and they are reputedly amazing for helping babes who won't stay asleep. We used one for Noah when he napped...had it hanging in the kitchen. (we made ours styled after the happy hang up) here are a few links...check them out? hope you find sleep!

  8. Awwww, C, I can't pretend to know what you are going through or give any useful advice, but I can tell you that I do think you will tackle this just as you have your entire journey to get your babies - with compassion, undying strength, and a mother's love.

    In your sleep deprived state your clarity and thoughtfulness in this post amazes me.

    Sending sleepy thoughts to your babies.

  9. A friend of mine was hired to be a post-partum doulah for someone who had just given birth to twins. She only did it for a week but I think she helped the mum a lot just to get her breath back. Maybe even just one day a week try to find some help to give you a break.

    Wish I had some words of wisdom (besides take care of yourself).

  10. I wish I could come and give you a rest every week!!! This has been my biggest area of prayer for you because I knew how HARD it was for us with our ONE child waking up every 1-2 hrs for months on end (we actually told each other if we had twins we would have done the sleep training so much sooner). We are just starting to become alive again. I don't think you are a failure at all for doing this! I admire you!!! You really do need to have some sleep or you will go crazy - sleep deprivation is a BIG issue! As you might remember, the sleep training plan that worked for us was the book Good Night, Sleep Tight - the author does consultations also. Well I don't want to burden you with advice but if you need another book that could be an option. I am sending a big HUG to you and a promise to pray every day this week! This feels like it will never pass, but it will end and know we are holding your hand across the miles and I will be praying for others to help you get through this time!!! Much love as always to you dear friend!


Over to you!