Saturday, March 17, 2007

Midnight Dilemma

I am not getting enough sleep. The kids are each doing decent stretches (no sleeping-through-the-night or anything, but B was down to one night nursing, and M down to 2, on their best nights). But lately I’ve been up every couple of hours with one or the other.

When they were little (I can’t believe I just started a sentence that way! I have kids - that used to be little - can you believe it?) we used to wake the second for a feeding when the first woke. But at some point I thought we should let them set their own schedules - if one could sleep through, it would be silly to wake them (and might teach them to wake up when what I really want is for them to sleep). But now I’m up all the time, and I often have trouble falling asleep because I just know that the next waking is around the corner. (Now, for example. I went to bed and waited, and sure enough I was up in 20 minutes. And now I can’t sleep. Ugh.*)

What do I do?

(a) Keep letting them set their own schedules. They’re working on a developmental spurt, I think (when are they not?) - B is close to crawling. They might be teething. Once we get past this hurdle, we might be back to fewer night wakings, and I don’t want to have screwed that up.

(b) If it seems like a reasonable stretch since the last waking, wake baby #2 after baby #1 nurses. Which is good except that I acually dread the babies waking at the same time, since at night I can’t really tandem them (at least not without waking J, and that turns it into a whole big production and makes everyone more awake and harder to settle, plus he does have to get up for work these days). Plus, then I’m encouraging them to wake every 4 hours or whatever one of them is doing, rather than encouraging them to sleep through. Aren’t I?

(c) Night wean. Or at least work harder to cut back on night nursing. When we did our big sleep project, we spent a couple of nights following a set of rules around night wakings that meant soothing them sometimes, and allowing them to nurse at others (since I’m not so sure they can go 12 hours without nursing at all). I gave it up because it seemed so arbitrary for them - at 11 they wake up and get shushed but not nursed, but at 1 they get nursed right away? How do they know it’s 11 and not 1? It just didn’t work so well for me. But then I stopped trying to soothe them back to sleep at all (except for the early night wakings - anything before 10 or 11), and just nurse every time. And I know at least some of the times they’re not really hungry (2 hours after their last waking/nursing? I think not.)

Any advice/tips/warnings/encouragement? Please?

* And sure enough, after I wrote the initial draft here and started to go back to bed, baby #2 woke.


  1. I'm afraid I have no advice to offer, though I will say I have the same unable-to-get-back-to-sleep issue that you do. P sleeps through the night pretty much all the time, but she has been waking up early (5am or before) on some mornings. Most of the time she goes back to sleep, but I don't because I'm just waiting for the next noise she makes to signify that she is awake for good.

    The Dude thinks that because P. then doesn't wake until 7am that I was able to "sleep in". I try to tell him that I was actually awake from 5am, but he doesn't listen.

    I hope some folks are able to offer advice that works. You need your sleep!

  2. I felt the same way and decided to let them set their own schedules. I also had Dave go in and offer either a pacifier or a bottle of water first before I would nurse them. If I go in there they won't go back to sleep unless I nurse them. If he goes in they do better.

    I also cover all the clocks I can see in our bedroom at night so I don't know what time it is. That's helped me be able to get back to sleep once I'm up without the "someone will be awake any minute" business that was keeping me up before. Dave knows about when they might be hungry (although they have finally dropped all night feedings for the most part) and brings them to me to nurse in bed now if they do get hungry.

  3. My advice would be to talk to your pediatrician about what their needs are for feeding. Depending on how much they're getting during the day and whether they're at a good weight percentile, they may indeed be able to go a full 12 hours. It's an individual thing though - some babies don't need night feedings at all as early as 3-4 months, and some babies aren't ready for that until around 9 months. I completely agree with you that sleep training (in whatever way you decide to do it) is very difficult until you can fully night wean because to them, it seems arbitrary. The whole principle behind sleep training is for them to catch on that they aren't going to be fed when they wake up, so it's not worth waking up. So if sometimes they are and sometimes they aren't, that's unlikely to work.

    Good luck with whatever you decide!

  4. I think it's the eternal question -- my husband and I feel as though all we ever talk about (and never do) is sleep. We stopped waking the second twin because they always seemed more awake if we woke them to feed -- like we were saying, time to play! We generally try to soothe first, and if they don't go back to sleep, we do nurse... though if I'm really tired I just put them in bed and nurse. So I'm super inconsistent. Clearly I don't have the answer here...I like Jenn's idea of hiding the clocks and not knowing what time it is! Good luck to you and let us know if you find the secret.

  5. I just wanted to say hi and thanks for stopping by my blog. I'll be checking back in to see how your two are doing and get some future advice :)


  6. We tended to do a mishmash version of A & B. I don't tend to be a big believer in the whole "that baby doesn't actually know its own hunger signals in the middle of the night but your pediatrician does because she weighs X pounds" theory. On the other hand, I never ever had babies who wanted to stay awake to play, either. They woke up to eat, ate, then went back to sleep. (Okay, in Wilder's case, the eating part would last an hour at a time. Co-sleeping was the only cure for that one.) If I had kids who were waking up, eating, and playing, desparation might alter my approach.

  7. One of the pieces of advice I received from other Moms of multiples, before I had mine, was to keep them on the same schedule. And, we did. In my opinion, it's the best thing we ever did. They sleep, eat, bathe, play and do everything together. The only thing we've waivered on is naptime. They go down at the same time, but Sara tends to wake before Max.

    It's what worked for us, and I hope you find something that works for you, too!