Why, "So Long, Sleep"?

Unless you've read my bio, some of you might be wondering, "Why is her blog called, 'So Long, Sleep?' Why doesn't she ever talk about sleep?" The truth is I don't know what to say. "Sleep is a struggle"?, "We aren't getting any"?

The thing is, I haven't slept through the night (on average) in years. Well, since having children, anyway. So, for me, Motherhood has meant saying goodbye to sleep. :) Maybe you can relate?

My firstborn was colicky for the first 4-5 months, after that she did pretty well. We experienced the normal bumps, but overall was and is a great sleeper. 

Middlest, on the other hand, has had trouble sleeping her whole life; she was a very colicky baby(!), then as a toddler she would be awake for hours at a time at night. This went on for about a year. It was so bad that my husband and I had to take shifts. I was also pregnant with Littlest at the time.

Unfortunately, I must admit that I didn't handle it very well. I felt very put out by the whole thing. I was angry and thought that I was "owed" sleep. "Why wasn't this child letting me sleep! Didn't she know *I* needed 8 hours?!" (It's very easy for me to look back with a heavy heart and with guilt, but I have to trust that the Lord is growing me in this area and pray that His grace covers all.)

Not only that, but getting her to go to sleep has always been a problem. After years of fighting it, we (mostly my husband) decided that sitting in her room until she falls asleep is the best solution. This sounds so much easier than it is. Trust me.

She eventually stopped staying awake for hours at night, but still, to this day, wakes up almost every night at least once to come into our bedroom and sleep on the floor. Which, of course, wakes me (and sometimes Daddy) up. 

In the last 6 months or so, we're back to waking up in the wee hours of the morning (1-3am) and staying awake till around 5am. *yawn* 

We've tried EVERYTHING over the years: discipline, soothing, rocking, reading, tough love (letting her cry it out, but that only disturbs everyone in the house), and other things that I've forgotten. :) We've had a "bed" by our bed on the floor for years. 

We're pretty sure that the main reason for her not sleeping is that she's afraid. And I get it! I think every child goes through a stage like this. It's just that hers has been her whole life. :( And the worst of it is, she can't get back to sleep after waking up.

I'll be honest, in the last week, I've started to lose it a bit again. I'm tired, folks. I'm 33 weeks pregnant and that alone is making me feel exhausted, but when I'm forced to be awake for hours at a time at night, it only makes everything that much worse. You can imagine how some of our days go when half of us have had very little sleep! 

Mr. N wakes up at 3:30am to go to work, so I don't rely on him for help--I can't! He *has* to go to work. 

It's been really tough--some seasons are better than others. It's definitely changed my perspective, as you can imagine. Here's what I've learned over the years: 

- White noise is our best friend. We didn't start using white noise until after Middlest was born, but now, there isn't a room you can go in our house where there isn't some kind of fan or white noise machine going. It's actually kind of joke around here. :) 

- I don't need as much sleep as I thought I did. Ha! After Oldest was born, I was convinced that I still needed 8 hours of sleep a night. And if I didn't get it, watch out!!! I was such a crab! Well, it took a long time for me to realize that I was never going to get that much sleep again and be ok with it. This is an area where the Lord has grown me, for sure. Now, if I get 5 hours or so in a row, I'm happy.

After Littlest was born, I was happy if he woke {only} every two hours or so to eat. See how far I've come?! I'm so ready for Baby #4! 

- There may or may *not* be a solution. This is actually something I'm learning currently. We still don't have the answers for getting Middlest to sleep. I'm learning to be patient and long-suffering (emphasis on the SUFFERING) and flexible. There are days when I'm not any of those things though. There are days when I'm just TIRED and snap at everyone. I'm still a work in progress! 

- We still have a lot to be thankful for. Since we homeschool, there are days when I can let everyone sleep in (if it's been a particularly long night) and I don't take that for granted; if the kids went to school outside the home, we wouldn't have that option! 

- It could be worse. Not getting much sleep is hard for sure, but I have friends who are going through some pretty difficult things with their children: cancer, other major health issues... it could be worse. 

- I can share my experience and hopefully be a blessing to another mom. Someone recently directed a mom to me who's just had her fourth baby, who is colicky. Well, I was able to completely understand what she's going through and offer some advice! So, it isn't all for naught! I believe that's a lot of the reason why God allows us to go through the hard stuff--we can sympathize with others, be a blessing and ultimately point them to Him.

- This whole experience (motherhood?) has greatly humbled me. I used to have very strong opinions about most things regarding parenting, and our sleep problems (along with a myriad of other issues) have cured me of that! I no longer look at what other parents are doing and judge. I realize that we're all doing the best we can and there are no right or easy answers sometimes.

- This experience has also brought me closer to the Lord. I've had to lean on His strength and grace. I've had to look my ugly sin in the face and deal with it. I've had to look at all my children individually and see that God gave them to me for a reason and He made them the way they are on purpose.

That is enlightening, people. We are all deeply loved by God, therefore we need to love each other deeply--even when we've only had a few hours of sleep and said person is dancing on our last nerve. Ask me how I know. 

Last, but not least, here are a few things we've tried, some of which have kind of helped:

- I already mentioned white noise, but I'll mention it again. If you're child is waking frequently (or too early in the morning), invest in a fan or white noise machine! You won't regret it! 

- We drug her. I'm kidding! Sort of. Homeopathy, such as lavender and melatonin. Melatonin isn't a long term cure, but in our case, we feel like Middlest is in the habit of staying awake at night, so we're trying to retrain her body into sleeping at night again and giving her a small does of melatonin helps with that.

- Magnesium/salt baths before bed.

- Magnesium supplements.

- Changing sleeping arrangements. We've played musical rooms a lot in this house. We ended up moving both girls' beds upstairs a few days ago, so now all 5 of us are sleeping upstairs (in only 2 rooms). We're hoping that by being in the next room, she'll be more comfortable and sleep better?

- Having a place for her to sleep on the floor next to our bed. Like I said, this worked for a while, but is no longer working.

- Talking to her about it. This is sometimes difficult, because she's so young and can't always articulate how she's feeling. I'm finding though, that the more we talk about it, the more she opens up and we are getting some insight. It's a slow process.

- PRAY. We pray with our kids and have prayed with her numerous times regarding being afraid, but I'm committing to faithfully praying with her EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. about this and memorizing a few verses. It helps for sure.

- Talking to my friends. Sometimes you just feel better if you can talk about it. I have the best friends in the world for that. :) I'm very blessed.

- One thing we haven't tried yet is colored sugar water...

There are a few books and blogs that have helped me here and there:

- Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child - I like this book when I'm trying to figure out how much sleep each child needs for their age and how many naps they should be taking. Obviously, every child is different and in Middlest's case, not much of that book has applied! But it is good to have a baseline. He also has tips on getting your child to sleep.

- Sally Clarkson has a new book coming out, "Different",  where she talks about parenting children who are "Different." Apparently, her son wasn't a great sleeper either (among other things) and she has some excellent wisdom on her blog and podcast.

I do love this sweet girl so much. :)

So there you have it. That is why my blog is called "So Long, Sleep." Like I said, I've not talked about it too much on here because, honestly, I didn't really have anything to offer in terms of advice or help and I don't want to just complain about it all the time here. That's what my Real Life friends are for. HA!

Sleep is something that I no longer take for granted, as I'm sure many mothers across the world can relate to. I kind of wish someone had warned me. Not that it would have changed anything. ;)

Do you have any sleep problems at your house? Do you have any tips? Is there anything in your life that you used to have strong opinions on and have become more open-minded about? ;)


Third Trimester Woes

 Our family at church on Christmas Day. You can't really see my bump in this picture, but I'm 30 weeks here.

There comes a point in pregnancy when you switch from "Oh my gosh. I have SO much to do before the baby gets here! I have to wash the curtains! I have to organize everyone's clothes! I have to clean the refrigerator! I have to completely re-organize my entire life!" 


"I'm not doing a dang thing for the next 6 weeks." 

Guess where I'm at?

10 weeks left!!! Ack!
I took this of myself on New Year's Eve, while my husband slept soundly on the couch. 
We were both in bed by 10:30.

I'm just so stinking tired. Some days, I will literally sit on the chair ALL DAY. Because it's all I can do, other than make most meals for everyone. Even then, I'll pull in as much help as possible. "Kids! You can make yourself a bowl of cereal for dinner! Daddy, you're on your own." 

But for reals. Every 4 or 5 days, I have one of these down days, where I can. not. move. I was feeling a bit guilty over it, but I got over that with the help of a pep-talk with a friend. In about 8 weeks, I'll be so busy and I'll be glad I took this time to just sit. That's what I tell myself anyway.

I've also decided to cut back a bit on school. After talking to that same friend, I realized that I am indeed trying to do way too much. It's so hard in our culture to slow the heck down, you know? The guilt of "not doing enough" comes on very quickly and hangs around for a long time. I'm doing my best to be ok with not doing All The Things right now.

All of that said, there are a few things I have to do before the baby comes:

- decide on a name. We've never had this trouble before! We've always known either before I was pregnant or early in the pregnancy what we would name each child. It's getting down to the wire here, people! We have a few ideas, but nothing we're completely sold on yet.

- get a bedroom set up for me and the baby (and Daddy, obvs). We've played musical rooms so many times in this house. It's a 3-ish bedroom--one of the bedrooms is technically the landing. So I'm not *exactly* sure where everyone's going to go yet. My poor husband has moved furniture so often in this house.

- get out baby paraphernalia. I have a few bins of newborn things that I need to get out and wash and get ready.

- get a New Baby School Plan ready. Really, all I want to do is have a basket of books ready and waiting that I can read from while nursing or what have you. But if I'm not intentional, it won't happen.

I'm short of breath just typing out all of this! 

(I actually have a prayer request for all of you out there--would you pray that I don't get any {more} rashes this pregnancy? I had PUPPS and Autoimmune Progesterone Dermatitis {I think PUPPS brought the other one on} for my first pregnancy, and the progesterone allergy hasn't gone away since. Basically, I had TWO very itchy rashes that completely covered my body for the last trimester of my first pregnancy and one of the itchy rashes - APD - comes back to some degree for each subsequent pregnancy.

I'm getting itchy on my belly and am concerned that PUPPS will come back, or my APD will get worse. :( Please pray against all itchiness! It's awful! :( I know the Lord won't give me anything I can't handle, but I'm still worried.)

So, that's where I'm at. What are you up to these days?

(Please don't misunderstand my pregnancy posts--I realize there are so many women who are unable to get pregnant, and obviously, I'm not trying to be insensitive. Even though I have a few aches and pains, I'm truly grateful for all my babies and children! I thank Jesus daily for the new life growing in me. I can not WAIT to meet her.  And she's completely worth it. :)