My baby just won't go to sleep and I feel like I'm going mad

(23 Posts)
Petcat Fri 11-Oct-13 00:01:23

I have been trying to put my 21 week old DD to bed for the last 6 hours. She just can't seem to go to sleep. This has been going on for a month now and I am feeling almost psychotic with the stress caused by lack of sleep. She takes hours and hours to settle to sleep in the evening and once she eventually goes off she will never sleep longer than an hour before waking and needing hours to be settled again.

I have tried breastfeeding her to sleep, rocking, shushing, patting, white noise, swaddling, co-sleeping, I've even resorted to walking away in the desperate hope she'd settle herself. She just gets more and more tired and cries and cries but won't fall asleep. I spend every evening in a dark room, listening to white noise for hours on end, crying while I hold my sobbing baby. The only place she will ever drop off is lying on my chest.

We have a 45 minute bedtime routine of bath and/or massage, bf and lullabies in a dark room with white noise from a dream sheep. I've moved this routine earlier and earlier in the day in the hope of tackling her over-tiredness. In the day she will only nap in the sling or the car seat in a moving car.

I have had so little sleep I feel like I am falling to pieces. I have no family or friends anywhere nearby and my partner won't help out at all overnight. If anyone can tell me why she is impossible to settle or suggest something I haven't tried I would be grateful. I'm willing to try pretty much anything. I don't agree with CIO and feel she's too young for it anyway but am getting absolutely desperate.

Graceparkhill Fri 11-Oct-13 00:12:56

It is a very long time since my two were babies but I can remember the sheer torture of sleep deprivation.
You seem to have tried everything so some random thoughts from me:
Have you tried a dummy?
Would the baby take a bottle from your DH to give you a break?
Have you spoken to your health visitor?
Can you sleep when the baby is sleeping?
Hopefully someone will be along soon with more modern advice.!

WhitePeacock Fri 11-Oct-13 00:21:36

You poor thing, sleep deprivation is horrendous. Your partner really does need to help a bit - early in the morning for a solid chunk of hours, say? - so that you can get some predictable sleep and you know when your brain and body can go offline, at least once in every 24 hours.

Have you been to the GP to check for any health issues? Is she refluxy/silent refluxy, so hates being laid down? (My dd was like this, though not to the extent of yours - also would only nap in the sling, argh! She had silent reflux, so I had to push a bit to get the GP to prescribe, but baby gaviscon helped no end. These days she sleeps a nice predictable 10 hours at night but it took a long time of feeling like my face was melting - and lots of hot rage that I felt SO guilty about - before this golden era dawned.) It WILL pass one day but you need some support and to feel like you're doing something proactive now. Try your HV if you get on well with her?

Petcat Fri 11-Oct-13 00:27:27

Thank you Grace. Unfortunately she is a bottle and dummy refuser. I have sometimes fallen asleep when she's been propped on my chest and absolutely terrified myself because I am well aware of the risks of SIDS and suffocation.

I had not thought to ask my HV for advice, so I will take DD down the drop-in clinic next week.

Petcat Fri 11-Oct-13 00:35:20

She does have reflux, treated by ranitidine. She used to vomit lots but it has been under control for a while now so I'm not sure if it's contributing to her sleep problems. When her reflux was at its worst, between 6 and 13 weeks, she was actually a fairly good sleeper and could manage 4-5 hour stretches. She also used to bf to sleep but that doesn't work any more!

My partner is currently snoring away in the next room. He is really nor helping at all and our relationship is ruined because of it. I sometimes think he regrets DD ever being born sad

I appreciate your replies, the long sleepless night is such a lonely place.

MrsApplepants Fri 11-Oct-13 00:47:56

Nothing useful to say, as you seem to have tried everything, just wanted to say hang in there, this phase WILL pass x

WhitePeacock Fri 11-Oct-13 00:53:30

That's really rubbish about your partner. If he isn't helping at all, his presence must be fricking infuriating - somebody who could help take the strain, but just won't! How is communication with him generally? Would it be possible to make a bit of time to talk, avoiding the tiredness competition game, and explain that you're about to get really ill and need him to step up? And encourage him to talk about his feelings about dd too? Adjusting to parenthood is really huge and hard and it can feel very tempting to just turn your back on it - especially (I imagine) for the gender which isn't hormonally-programmed to respond at the first whimper! (I certainly did at least one stropping-out-of-the-house-to-start-a-new-life without my wallet in the early weeks. Tiredness can really ramp up the rage.

Otoh, if there's no talking that can be done and no help to be had, he might just be more trouble than he's worth. Does he pull daytime weight?

WhitePeacock Fri 11-Oct-13 00:59:13

I'm going to bed now as otherwise I will be a horrible beast to tantrum-central dd in the morning but you aren't alone and you are managing really well under awful, awful conditions. Anything you need to do to get by - any money you need to spend on help during the day, or night for that matter - if you have it, spend it, and if you need to do it, do it. Hold out for the light at the end of the tunnel. It is there - it just seems a fuck of a long way off at present.

phoolani Fri 11-Oct-13 01:08:07

Is there a higher SIDS/ suffocation risk when they sleep propped on the chest? Do you mean in a bed? Cos I used to spend all evening sleeping (I mean evening, not night) while both mine slept on my chest. Take any opportunity to sleep! If your P won't help at night, sleep in the evening while you're both watching tv and dd is on your chest. At least that way you'll get a couple of hours - P can surely at least watch that no suffocation or owt happens then. Have to say my concern would be that there was a health reason why she can't sleep, but can she sleep happily for a long time on your chest? Does she wake when you move her into a cot?
Only because we didn't have a clue what we were doing, we never put our dcs to bed 'early'. They just slept on my chest all evening until I woke up when it was (our) time for bed - I.e 11pmish - then they went down, after a BF, in a cot. Maybe try this? How long do you let her sleep on your chest? Maybe she just needs more time there before she can sleep elsewhere? Don't do CIO. Remembersadbest piece of advice I was ever given) she is not doing it to piss you off! She needs something and you haven't quite yet figured out what is all. What she definitely doesn't need is being left to CIO. Probably worth at least trying to give her as much (safe) time as possible on your chest before trying to get her to sleep elsewhere?

phoolani Fri 11-Oct-13 01:09:03

Had no idea a colon would convert to a :.

phoolani Fri 11-Oct-13 01:10:26

Or a bracket. Or whatever happened to put a sad face in an inappropriate place.

Sarahplane Fri 11-Oct-13 01:17:01

Lack of sleep is horrendous and so is reflux. It will eventually get better and thats the thing you both need to keep remembering. This will end but you need to work together to get through this. My ds was an awful sleeper when he had reflux. When was your dds medication last adjusted? Maybe worth checking if she has outgrown her dose or maybe needs something stronger like domperidone and omeprazole? Have another chat with your gp to see what they say. Hang in there.

Petcat Fri 11-Oct-13 09:17:58

Thank you all for taking the time to post. She managed two 90 minute stretches after rolling herself onto her stomach so I feel a little rested. I hate letting her sleep in an unsafe way but just needed the rest so badly myself.

phoolani my nephew died of SIDS sleeping propped up on his dad's chest so I'm sadly very familiar with how dangerous it can be. I think it's OK if you're awake to check baby's breathing etc but risky if you drop off too.

Tbh until her sleep problems started we always kept her downstairs in the evening, sleeping in a sling, until I went to bed. This was to comply with SIDS guidelines but also because I honestly enjoyed having her with me. But every sleep 'expert' I have read emphasises the need for an early bedtime and rigid wind down routine. I assumed my laid back parenting was causing her to sleep poorly. Unfortunately my DD would definitely prefer to stay up sleeping on me, but she still doesn't sleep the rest of the night if I let her.

As for her dad, he is an involved and hands-on parent during daylight hours. It's just the nighttime where he leaves me to it. I will beg ask him to take her early in the morning before he leaves for work.

I am lucky to have the support of a midwife counsellor who visits me weekly following a traumatic birth. She suggested I visit the GP to rule out PND, but. I am not sure I'm depressed in the clinical sense. If I had some more sleep and some more support I'm not sure I'd be feeling like this. My DD is a beautiful, sweet, amazing little person and I do enjoy her in the day, it's just nighttime when my will-to-live and love for her is sapping away.

docsarah Fri 11-Oct-13 09:48:32

For the time being, ignore the "sleep experts" and do whatever it takes to get both of you some shuteye. We coslept which as a big sanity saver - and now DD goes happily to sleep in her own cot. If she can roll onto her stomach then I would be less worried about her sleeping there - my DD much prefers sleeping on her tummy, and her sleep improved once she could do that.

4-6 months is a massive developmental time as well so their sleep is up the spout anyway, even if they are usually a good sleper.

NoPartyDay Fri 11-Oct-13 14:03:53

Do whatever works to get both of you off to sleep
as docsarah says, when a very tired baby cries, sometimes co sleeping is heaven sent or very gradually, teaching self settling.

If you feel you are "losing will to live and love for her sapping away" you need to take better care of your sleep needs at night
it is ok to take a break from getting virtually no sleep and either co sleep or start to leave for very short periods to allow her to slowly learn to self settle. It is dangerous for your mental health, you could fall asleep at the wheel of a car, or find yourself sinking into serious depression if you continue being so sleep deprived. sorry you are having such an exhausting, upsetting time at night with your baby sad
i had the same exhausting problem, until i gradually allowed my babies to self settle, in between spending time settling if baby was very upset

Hamnvik Fri 11-Oct-13 20:05:18

I came on to post an almost identical thread to this, my DS is 28weeks and I am really struggling to get him to sleep. Its so upsetting and tiring, you are not alone OP. I really want to teach self settling but I don't know where to start.

duende Fri 11-Oct-13 21:07:46

petcat it sounds like the 4month sleep regression. In which case it should pass soon and sort itself out. In the meantime, you need some sleep. If you're partner is not supportive, could a friend or a relative come over for a couple of nights? Could you maybe afford a night nanny?
Would cosleeping help?

DS is 4 and was not a great sleeper, DD is 2 months old and I'm dreading the 4 month regression already.

This takes me back - both of mine were like this - even on ranitidine! Once they slept on their tummies it became much easier.

How often have you had the med dosage reviewed? I found that a super earlier bedtime of around 6pm with almost no routine was the key really plus a loose nap routine in the day - otherwise we'd get into an overtired cycle <shudders>

I also let them sleep on me until they fell asleep then had them next to me or in the cot while they lie on their sides. Te cot had blocks under the head end legs so they were on an incline.

I also made sure that they were winded after bedtime feeds - I'd sit dd on my lap facing to the side and make sure she was as upright as possible then rub and gently pat. Could take up to 20 mins but there would always be a burp in there. Once that was out, she would settle. Even now at 22 months she still has wind issues.

Dd was worse than ds - she also had a tongue tie which meant she took down a lot of air hence never sleeping more than 45 mins unless winded (a low point was her waking every 20 mins all night, I kid you not).

Your DH is obviously not being helpful. Your dd doesn't do this on purpose and it certainly isn't your fault.

I will add - once they flipped themselves onto their tummies and I was confident they had the head control (which they did from birth) I let them stay on their tummies.

minipie Sat 12-Oct-13 08:17:23

Sounds like she is really overtired. Especially this " In the day she will only nap in the sling or the car seat in a moving car." definitely a sign of overtiredness at her age.

Can you spend a few days focusing on getting loads of sleep into her in the day - using sling, car or moving pram if that works? And as much sleep as you can at night - co sleeping if that helps, sleeping on your chest if necessary. it will b a very tough few days but if she catches up on sleep and becomes less overtired, she'll be a lot easier to settle afterwards.

Petcat Mon 14-Oct-13 21:28:55

I thought I would update as I really appreciate you all taking time out of your own sleep-deprived lives to offer me suggestions and support.

I have managed to rope DP into taking on a bit more night time parenting on the weekends. I have also started going to bed the same time as DD and am getting a little more sleep as a result. I guess I have to accept any semblance of grown up life is on hold for the foreseeable future.

DD's meds are correct for her weight but I have been to see two HVs who have both suggested early weaning to help ease her reflux and (hopefully) help her sleep a little better. I am sad I won't make it to 6 months ebf but I hope some solids will ease her discomfort a bit.

She definitely sleeps better on her side or her tummy and can stay asleep for 2 hours in this position. The HV I saw today saw she could roll over and move her head well enough, and has encouraged me to let her find her own sleep position and stay in it. I am still terrified of SIDS but have to weigh the risk against my own fragile mental health.

I have experienced a couple of frightening brief episodes of derealisation in the last few days and have stopped driving as a result. I'll be seeing my GP to talk about other treatment options such as ADs this week.

thanks for your support.

teacher123 Mon 14-Oct-13 21:47:55

That out of control feeling turned into PND and anxiety with me feeling terror about anything to do with DS's sleep. If he took longer to settle, if he had a bad night, if he wouldn't nap, I would quickly become hysterical as I feared it would go back to when it was at its worst. ADs have really helped me, but I would definitely recommend getting some help sooner rather than later, I waited till DS was 12mo and I was in a bad way. It will get better thanks

And early nights are the way forward-DS is 18mo and I'm still almost always in bed by 9 asleep by 10 of I'm at home!

Sodabread Tue 15-Oct-13 23:32:49

I havent got any very helpful suggestions to make, other than to say my 9 month dd was very similar when we hit 5 months. It lasted 8 weeks, nights that I would be up every 45 minutes, for hours on end. I agree the only way I survived was cosleeping, and getting partner involved so for a few hours I slept in spare room in the evening. Her sleep, while still not fantastic has gotten a lot better. When I had a bad night recently and she woke up after 3 hours, I remembered when that used to be a good night!! So hang in there, it does get easier.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now