Monday, July 30, 2007

Sleep Disorders

To my beloved readers who don't have children, please read this post carefully before you decide to procreate. Think first about how much you love to sleep. Right now, even though you have to get up for things like work or school, you still have the freedom to push the snooze button a few times. You can also lay in bed leisurely reading a book before you drift off to sleep. Those of you with partners can participate in other nocturnal activities at your discretion. Think of that. And now read my story.

Isaac has been a problematic sleeper from day 1. I remember being in the hospital in the traumatic fog of post-delivery, and the nurse brought him in to me for his feeding. I remember thinking, my GOD, he needs to eat NOW? It was 2 a.m. It was a rude awakening, literally.

A week later, I remember regretting my decision to leave the hospital early, because if I had stayed, I would have had that nice nurse to bring Isaac at regular and reasonable intervals, rather than having to wake up to his squeals at what seemed like every 15 minutes.

For the first three months, I never got more than 1.5 hours of sleep at a time. This is the truth, and can be verified by my husband (who slept soundly while I fantasized about sticking a fork in his eye), my mother-in-law (who rescued my son when I fell asleep while holding him in the rocking chair and nearly dropped him), and my mother (who endured many pathetic phone conversations).

It turned out that Isaac was not one of those babies who sleeps through the night. He was still waking up at 4 a.m. when he was 1. He went from taking infant cat naps that lasted 2 hours at the most, to not sleeping all day and sleeping intermittently at night. This was horrible for me. Horrible. I love my son more than anything in the world, but he was a very difficult infant to take care of. I thank my lucky stars that he didn't have that horrible colic thing where babies shriek at the top of their lungs every night. Thank you God for sparing me that at least. But I remember having the thought that I might die from exhaustion, and instead of feeling sad about it, I felt really happy, because then I'd be able to close my eyes.

Now, fast forward 7 years to the present. Here are some points for you to know:

1. We are a co-sleeping family. You can comment all you like about it, because I've heard it all. Yes, Isaac will be getting his own bed in a few weeks, but since Masud doesn't live with us right now it's really not that big of a deal.

2. Isaac and I have a routine at night where we read together for at least 15 minutes. Usually when we're done reading, he lays quietly next to me while I read my own book. He falls asleep in about 20 minutes.

3. Things have gotten messed up since I've gone back to school. I need to be sitting at the computer or somewhere besides the bed to read my school books, because some of them are, well, less than exciting and I tend to fall asleep if I'm in bed.

4. We've discovered that Isaac can't go to sleep unless I'm there with him. And if I lay down with him, either I fall asleep or he can't fall asleep because he knows I'm going to get up again.

5. I'm at my most productive at night. I really need him to go to sleep so I can get stuff done!

6. I've tried rewards, threats, back rubs, reading extra books, putting on music, letting him watch a movie quietly, yelling, taking away tv privileges, warm milk, bribes, and even setting an alarm so I can just get up early instead of staying up late. Nothing is working.

7. The worst part of this is that Isaac inevitably stays up too late and then it is MURDER to get him up in the morning. Consider this - I am suicidal when I have to wake up anyway, but add to that hardship the fact that it takes a jackhammer to get him to wake up, and then he becomes the Antichrist. Seriously. This morning he was a ball of despair because he had been dreaming about an episode of Naruto, a cartoon that he can no longer watch because we don't have cable now that we've moved. He melted into a puddle of tears in the bathroom as he brushed his teeth. He couldn't put his socks on by himself because he was crying too hard. He didn't eat his toast. And all this time, I'm still not awake because I've not had my coffee (and I was up until 1 the night before working on my paper), and the clock is TICKING. I have to walk him up to his summer school and then bike to my office, and I have 15 minutes. He still doesn't have his socks on. Augh. AUGH!

8. I have to fix this before the fall semester begins. I have to fix it! Help me!

9. Parenting is so hard.


Wendell said...

Maybe the new bed will be the ticket?


Your infant story filled me with even more horror about becoming a parent than I'm used to. One of my new-parent friends talks about how her husband doesn't wake up when the baby cries....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for scaring me now, I guess there's no turning back for me. I'm so disappointed for Isaac that his dream couldn't continue- we've all had ones that are a bummer to wake up early in the middle of. Tell him that his dream will continue if he goes to sleep as soon as he can tonight- tell me if it works- SunnyD

Zeenat said...

Katie! You brought back some memories that were almost forgotten! Now I remember why I don't want another child! ;-D I wish I had some solid advice for you. It must be twice as hard for you since you are parenting all alone at the moment. Maybe put those glow in the dark stars on the ceiling? He can look at them as he falls asleep.

PAge said...

I laughed out loud several times while reading this post.

Lori said...


You said you have a Wii, I would bribe him big time. Set something up with him that if he can fall asleep without you laying next to him for so many nights that you will let him pick out a new game. Maybe even start it in his new bed. Might as well get both things done at once.

For my 7 year old son (also named Isaac) for larger issues like that we have had to go with larger rewards to really get him motivated. I don't think it is so bad to use a bribe, especially if we would have bought the reward for him at some time anyway.

Good luck!

Katie said...

Wendell, yes, the new bed is part of my grand scheme. And yes, be afraid of infants. They are demons in disguise.

SunnyD, Once you get past the demon stage, kids are really fun (mostly). And you have all those rad teacher tricks up your sleeve, so you're gonna rock.

Zee - How can you forget the horror of babyhood? Yeah, the stars are a good idea, and those SpongeBob lights that you gave him will also certainly help!

Page - Don't ever have babies. Adopt 7 year olds instead.

Lori - Thanks for your advice about the naughty playground kids! I like it and will definitely try the "Wow that wasn't very nice, was it?" line. And yes, bribery is an excellent motivator. Masud and I have started the "Reward Zone Point System". Brushing teeth without being told = 50 points. Going to bed quickly and quietly = 1000 points. It will take him 15,000 points to get his new Wii game. What do you think?

Lori said...

I love your "Reward Zone Point System", especially since he can earn so many more points for going to bed quickly and quietly.

At first I was so against using rewards/bribes, but then I realized how it was really the best motivator for our son. I know that we are raising him with good morals and all of that, so I don't worry about screwing him up too much.

We have used sticker charts and other things, but right now we are using marbles in a jar (it helps him to be able to see the marbles add up). He needs to earn 15 marbles to get something from his prize box. We have lots of things in the prize box like action figures, pokemon cards and other things he really wants. He can earn marbles from doing different things that we have written down: brusing teeth, picking up, etc. and we can always add things that he needs to work on. It has worked really well for us.

Good luck! Let us all know how it goes and what game he ends up picking out. :) We have a Wii too and I am always on the lookout for a good game.

Katie said...

Lori - RAVING RABBITS. It's the most fun game EVER. We also enjoy Super Paper Mario.

Lori said...

We'll have to try Raving Rabbits sometime. It sounds like a lot of fun. A couple of our favorites are Mario Party 8, Super Paper Mario and Pirates of the Caribbean. I bought the new Pokemon game to give him sometime, but I am saving it until he starts behaving better. Maybe I should have him work towards a bigger prize. He has not been listening to me lately and it seems like he is getting louder and faster everyday. I think I need a break... Actually I think I should just sit down and talk to him about what has been going on and what should change and that if he can make an improvement that I have a great surprise for him. (I really want to give him the game!)

Sorry I am so long winded.