Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Help

Remember how in Ivy's 7-month update I mentioned that sleep was still an issue, but that I was dealing with it?

Well, I take that all back. I think I am going to go crazy. I've never had such a bad sleeper, and I can't think of anything that would make it better. Everything we try makes it worse.

Last night, for example, she woke up around 11 pm. I nursed her and put her back in the crib. 15 minutes later, she woke up again. I asked Eric to help, since I was just so tired. He patted her on the back for an hour. She was still wide awake, so I swaddled one of her arms and snuggled her in bed with me. She cried for more than an hour. Finally at 2 am, she fell asleep--for only 5 minutes. When she woke up again, I finally gave up and nursed her so I could get some sleep. Even with being awake for several hours and therefore exhausted, she woke up again to nurse at 5:30 am. (And then my alarm accidentally went off at 6 am, and I didn't get back to sleep after that. Curses. It was a terrible night.)

Ivy's basic pattern is to sleep from 7-11pm. From then on, she wakes up every 1-2 hours all night long. The ONLY thing that will settle her back down is nursing. Sometimes she wakes up just 10-15 minutes after I've nursed her, and the craziness starts all over again.

If she wakes up before 11 pm, she will usually fuss herself back to sleep. She's never once gone back to sleep without nursing after 11 pm. Never.

Anything we do (short of me nursing her) makes it so much worse. Patting...rocking...snuggling her in bed...bouncing...singing...swaddling...not swaddling...all terrible. She works herself into a frenzy no matter what we try. She also stands up in her crib if we don't get her right away. Then she's wide awake and either really mad or ready to have a party.


Ivy is a super light sleeper. When I creep into the room at night, I often wake her up. I slide ever so slowly into bed, moving the covers carefully so they don't rustle. I try to avoid any squeaky spots in the floor. She has a white noise machine next to her crib going all night long. But still, she wakes with just about any movement we make.

Because we have 10 extra people living with us right now, I can't put her in another room.  Plus the thought of having to get out of bed, walk down the hall, nurse her, and then come back to bed 5-6 times a night is too terrifying to contemplate.

I wish cosleeping would solve the problem, but I had to put her in the crib next to my bed a few months ago. She became so wiggly that no one was sleeping well. Plus she sleeps better in the crib on her stomach than next to me in bed.

I could just keep nursing her every single time she wakes up, but sometimes it reaches point of ridiculousness. I'd also like her to not be entirely dependent on nursing at night to settle down. Most of the time? Sure. But not every single time.

But if I don't nurse her, it's 100 times worse. I would like her to sleep more than 1-2 hours at a time. I don't think she's waking up that often because she's hungry. It's habitual, and I don't know what her reset button is. I'm not even asking for her to sleep through the night. Just 3-4 hours at a time. Even having one 4-hour stretch of sleep would be positively amazing. Is that too much to ask?

The most depressing thing is that no matter how much I declare that I've had it, that something has to give, I can never give up. I can't put a pillow over my head or go sleep in another room. I'm the only one who can help her. Believe me, if Eric tries, it's a disaster for all parties involved. Nothing but nursing will settle her down.

So, help? Please?

ps-- thanks for slogging through my long rant. I'm not necessarily expecting any useful advice, because frankly I don't see how anything could help right now.

34 comments:

  1. Hang in there! It is so hard to function on poor sleep - I salute you.

    I have a 5.5 month old and have been intrigued and reading up lately on the idea that babies *need* to do some crying as a stress release. The idea is that letting your baby cry while you hold her calmly and lovingly and tell her occasionally that she is safe, her big feelings are welcome, etc., is a different beast than letting your baby cry alone, or even than holding while shushing, rocking, swaddling, etc to "help" with the crying.

    This is anathema to most attachment parenting fans, of course, but I have to say that something about it feels really right to me. That letting your baby get it out in this way in a safe, respectful, tender environment is actually a way of tending to her needs.

    I have no idea if this might be a helpful thought for you, but here are a few of the links I've been reading-

    http://www.awareparenting.com/comfort.htm
    http://www.handinhandparenting.org/article/listening-to-nursing-children/
    http://www.janetlansbury.com/category/parenting/babys-day/sleep-babys-day-parenting/

    I recommend all of these sites with some reservations. There can be some cringe worthy language use along the lines of "your baby may need to express her feelings for a whole hour" and also encouragement in the direction of restricting nursing to nourishment. Take what seems right and leave the rest, of course.

    Whatever you try next, or don't try, I will send sleepy vibes your way.

    I think you said this in your previous post about Ivy's sleep, but remember, this too shall pass.

    Best wishes!

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    1. I completely agree with you JMT, I had the exact same kind of sleeper than Ivy, it lasted 10months until I hit the point where I had hallucinations day and night…. So like you mention I just held her…. as long as she cried…it was very hard but I had to change something…the following 10days were pure hell!! but then she began to sleep longer stretch ,until 4 weeks after starting me holding her instead of nursing…she slept thru the night!!!! she will be 4 this sunday and I an amazing sleeper!
      Hang in there Rixa!
      Hugs.

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  2. I'm so sorry you are experiencing this right now. It sounds so hard, and it is. In my experience helping mamas breastfeed as a La Leche League Leader, this is very, very common at this age, and throughout the first year. I know Ivy seems so big and is pulling up and cruising, but she is still so little... she hasn't even been out in this world longer than she was in your womb. If nursing is what works, and you are all so exhausted, perhaps that is what is best at this point? She is still small, and being dependent on nursing throughout the night is normal for human babies. I know you know they have small tummies and our Mama Milk, in addition to being the perfect food for growing humans, is rapidly digested, quickly feeding little bodies and little brains. She may be genuinely hungry. Or perhaps she wants the warmth, closeness, and snuggles she gets from nursing.

    It sounds like you are doing everything else right. Swaddling works for some babies, not for others... white noise is usually a good thing, and it sounds like you are very flexible as to sleeping arrangements: bed-sharing, room-sharing, etc. Have you read Elizabeth Pantley's "No Cry Sleep Solution"? It is one I often recommend to sleepless mamas. It can help you figure out the best nap/nighttime sleep ratio for Ivy, and help with transitioning to falling asleep without the breast.

    Hang in there, Mama. You are doing it! Your life is hectic (in a good way! house guests can be so much fun!) right now, and it is hectic for sweet Ivy, too. She may just need to check in. Maybe you can find some time to take a bath or take a nap and have someone else take care of the kiddos for a brief time during the day. But remember how fast this time flies, and how amazing she is during the day. Pretty soon she will be Inga-sized... Dio-sized... then Zari-Sized... Hugs from a mama in Kansas. -Katherine

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  3. Maybe Eric with a bottle? I don't really have any other ideas. We got lucky at 5 months and it got better. But before that we were in a similar spot. Though cosleeping worked for Ciaran which I count as a blessing.

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  4. My daughter was very much like Ivy as a baby. She gradually slept for longer times starting around 9-10 mos. She started waking more frequently to nurse again when she was 1 1/2 and I night weaned her at that point. She started sleeping through the night shortly after that and rarely woke at night after that point. I remember quite a few times where I just had to leave and let her cry, but she never cried herself to sleep no matter how long I left her. We tried everything with her, just like you have with Ivy and I never found a solution other than letter her grow out of it. My only saving grace is that she napped well and I wasn't working at the time and she was my only child so I could nap too :/

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  5. It may or may not be related, but are you aware of any food sensitivities she might have? I agree that her age may just be a difficult one (my son slept great until he was 8-9 months old then was a multi-waker for months before we finally settled into once or twice a night by about 18 months. He definitely has food sensitivities (which I didn't know/recognize because he wasn't eating as much solids yet). Could she be revved up by something or uncomfortable and that's keeping her from sleeping well. And it may not be something that's painfully obvious (like my daughter's reaction to me eating tomatoes). Just a thought. Good luck <3

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  6. i have no advice to offer just a word of support and understanding. we went through it too, and it will end. (that terrible sleeper of mine? sleeps wonderfully now and has for years....0

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  7. i am so sorry. i have had two babies like this - my 1st and my 4th. i think i told you in a previous comment that getting off of dairy and using a chiropractor helped so that 1/2 our nights were manageable... but still pretty awful by most people's standards. :) i've tried the no cry sleep solution. meh. so many people love it. i see it as probably working well for easy babies - but high need ones? not so much. you probably have two options, as i see it. either continue the all-night nursing or have her learn to fall back asleep without always nursing. you could nurse her at 11p and then have your husband sit in with her, and yes she would probably cry, maybe for hours even. but eventually she would get it. with my first, i could not do it anymore by 7 months and he did cry, for 3 hours for a bunch of nights in a row while my husband sat in with him. with my fourth, i was much more tender about it and did the all-night nursing thing until she was 20 months old. and honestly, looking back, i think that was too long. i feel one million times better now that we're sleeping better. and my family has benefitted, too, because i have more energy for them. i really see day-in and day-out all night nursing as more of a habit than a need. a baby at 7 months does not need* to nurse every 15 minutes. and there is absolutely nothing wrong with her learning to be comforted by dad while you get some rest that you deserve. i have found, once they break that association with nursing to sleep, they don't need dad to comfort them during the night, but that might take a week or two to get there. i'm not saying you should night wean. but i think expecting a solid 4 hour stretch at this age is not unreasonable. our third child was adopted from Ethiopia and even in that traditional culture, i was very surprised that the ethiopians we met felt babies needed to cry to sleep and that you should not run to them right away. they would chastise me for doing so. we also have a friend in her 60s from the country side of colombia. her mom had 12 kids and had the same philosophy. she would also get frustrated that i would rarely let my babies cry. my point is, it's not just an entitled western/american thing, like some people say.

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  8. I night-weaned at 9 months because I just couldn't deal anymore, and she started waking up more and more frequently. Actually she'd wake up and scream the moment I removed my nipple from her mouth, so I was getting almost zero sleep. So we night weaned cold turkey (no nursing between about 11 pm and 6 am) and she was furious and stayed up all night for about 2 nights in a row (in bed with us so we could snuggle her for comfort) and then gave up and started sleeping through the night solid. For 7 hour stretches! It was amazing!!! Ivy is a bit younger so I don't know if you'd be comfortable doing that yet, but it was a total sanity saver for us.

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  9. You didn't mention a pacifier, maybe that would work some of the time? Otherwise, that doesn't sound like an out of the ordinary schedule for 7 months. Both of mine woke frequently to nurse, even my 18 month old still does, but bedsharing works for us so it isn't terrible.

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  10. Oh my goodness, You have my sympathies. I do not miss this at all. My 5th was like this. And it only changed when he was about 20 months old and I was about 4 1/2 months pregnant and my milk had dried up. He finally got sick of dry nursing (THANK HEAVENS!!!) and started sleeping more at night. Right before his sister was born two weeks ago he finally started sleeping through the night. It was such a rough experience for me because all of my other children started sleeping through the night at about 9-14 months. I had no clue what to do to stop the all night nursing madness and I was sick and pregnant with sore nipples and no patience. I hope Ivy moves out of this phase soon or you can figure something out.

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  11. could she be having some kind of food reaction to something in the breast milk that is disturbing her? My second had issues when I had even a little dairy (for the first four months). The pediatrician assured me that it couldn't have been dairy because she wasn't having a strong digestive reaction, but if I had dairy, she had problem, and when I didn't she was totally fine. Once her digestive system built up, the issue went away.

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  12. I'd be working to get her to go to bed around the same time I did, by playing with naps, etc. Our babies have usually gone to bed around the same time as we do, around 9:30, because we want as long a stretch as possible before they first wake up. A 4-hr stretch and then waking every 1-2 hours is not that dissimilar from what some of my babies have done at that age, and is much easier to handle than 1-2 hrs the whole time I'm in bed.

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  13. Not a lot of advice except - it does get better eventually. My oldest didn't sleep through the night until he was 11. With my kids' history I would want to be sure there weren't any physiological concerns: hearing, sensory processing issues, neurological problems. Try letting her sleep in just a diaper with a heavy blanket - OR heavier pjs with no blanket. Also, have you considered anything in your diet that may be making her sleep difficult? Good luck and I pray things get settled soon!

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  14. Is she clawing at her throat at all? If she is experiencing GERD and/or is sensitive to dairy, her sleep may be interrupted by the related discomfort.

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  15. Hugs to you. That stinks. Don't forget that sleep deprivation is a TORTURE TECHNIQUE.

    None of my kids slept through the night without crying it out around 7-8 months, when they were old enough not to need to eat at night. I'd go in once (the first night), pick them up, burp them, lay them back down, and tell them they didn't need to eat, and then let them fuss until they went to sleep. One of my guys cried as long as it took me to get to the door of his room, and that was all it took.

    But one baby screamed until morning. 3 am, when he was used to nursing, until 6, when he typically rose. He did this a couple nights in a row, when I decided that I'd keep on nursing him during the night. It was a battle of wills, and he had won. And I could live with feeding him once a night. Later we found out that he has sensory integration disorder, and a bite of food did not pass his lips until he was 15 months old and in weekly occupational therapy. He was a huge baby, and, looking back, I think he was truly and legitimately hungry and needed that middle-of-the-night feeding, even though it was tough for me to provide it. I fed him during the night until he was more than 18 months old, if I remember right.

    I guess the question I have, and that only you, as the mom, can answer, is whether you think she's fussing because she's hungry or because she's tired.

    Does she nap well? If my babies missed a nap, they invariably slept poorly that night. Even now, if my 5-year-old goes to bed late, he will wake up and cry around midnight because he's so overtired. Now that he's 5 it's easy to see that he needs to be tucked back into bed, not offered a snack, but it's a lot less clear with a baby.

    I'd recommend making sure she's napping well as the first step to helping her sleep well at night.

    How often do you feel Ivy needs nighttime feeds? Once, none, more? If I were in your shoes, I would feed her once, if you think she needs it, and then let her fuss and cry (as long as you've eliminated suspects like ear infections, dirty diaper, etc., that need your attention) and let her be. It will SUCK for the first couple of nights, especially since she's in your room. But she might surprise you.

    Since we had our 3 boys in the same room, we had the older boys camp out in their sister's room for a couple of nights while the youngest learned to settle back down to sleep, so they weren't disturbed. Would you be comfortable rearranging bedrooms temporarily while Ivy establishes good sleeping habits? I especially wonder if this might be a kindness to her, if she's such a light sleeper. She might be the one person in your house who needs a room to herself (at least for now).

    But mostly, hugs. We've all been there, and it SUCKS. Good luck with whatever you try.

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  16. I am soooo sorry! When my babies had a hard time, I would strap them to me with the moby wrap and then I would sleep on my back. I am big on using a pacifier. These are the ones I use http://www.amazon.com/Gerber-Soft-Center-Pacifiers-Colors/dp/B000NN7FMU/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1383791474&sr=8-5&keywords=gerber+pacifier

    http://www.amazon.com/Gerber-Natural-Flex-Silicone-Pacifier/dp/B0017I79X0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1383791474&sr=8-2&keywords=gerber+pacifier

    I put the pacifier in as soon as I pull them off the breast. They rarely refuse it when they are in that "dreamy" state.

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  17. Ada was the same. Lack of sleep almost killed me. She never slept longer than 45 minutes at a time all night, every night. At age two we finally did allergy testing and found she was very allergic to milk. About three weeks after eliminating every trace of dairy she began sleeping and she was a whole different child!

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  18. I don't have any good advice but I'll tell you what I did. I have mostly blocked out a lot of the horrible times with my daughter, but I remember enough that your situation sounds similar. I would sleep almost the entire night sitting mostly upright in a lazyboy chair, holding my daughter in my arms on top of the boppy. I slept very lightly and constantly adjusted to her every move and stretch, and nursed off and on all night, but I slept. It was the only way for a long time (not even sure how long), but she is 3 now and sleeps great, all night long. My main point is, I don't know the right answer, but my arrangement did allow for more sleep than I ever could have gotten even cosleeping in the bed. My daughter is still extremely high maintenance and high energy, but also very independent and super smart and creative, and she sleeps well. So as many have said or implied, it will pass! One way or another.

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  19. Oh, Rixa, I wish I could fix this for you :( We co-slept until 2 weeks past my daughter's 1st birthday when I had HAD it with her not sleeping unless I was right there the whole time. She was not nursing at night at that point (we'd had several frustrating weeks of her waking up fussing and me offering to nurse and her refusing), so we put her in her bed at bedtime and set the timer for 1 hour. After 50 minutes of crying (I was sure I would NEVER put one of my children through that) she feel asleep and slept 8 hours...it was a magical thing. It still feels magical that I can put her to bed and she will sleep all night now at 27 months. I do not have the answer and I so wish I did :( Feeling for you.

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  20. When my son was like this, co-sleeping didn't work for me either (for reasons other than you're dealing with). So I had to find a way to make the constant nursing something I could deal with. We solved this by sleeping in our recliner/nursing chair. My son could stay latched on all night if he wanted, and I could get some sleep. My son wouldn't be comforted by anything other than nursing, either. Anything else was almost insulting to him. Sleeping in the nursing chair limited his movement and put me in a position that was comfortable for the all-night nurse-a-thon.

    I've also found great comfort in a Facebook group called Wait it Out. There's a lot of other moms out there dealing with this same issue, usually with no way to fix it other than to, well, wait it out. The group is secret and so if you want to join, I have to either be friends with you on Facebook or have your email address. I'm happy to add you if you want, and you can even "unfriend" me after you've been added to the group. :)

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    1. That's pretty much how we dealt with it, too. Wish I'd had a support group like this! That's a great service to moms dealing with a truly difficult issue. Wonderful!

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  21. Could she be teething?

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  22. My third was just like this. I have no advice-- I tried all of the things mentioned in the comments so far-- nothing worked. When he finally weaned at 20 mths (and his early morning feeding was one of the LAST to go), he got much better. But he's three now and STILL goes through phases where he's very wakeful at night for a week or so, then settles back into a reasonable night habit. My other two children are (and have been since around six-ten months old) are wonderful, rock-solid sleepers.

    The ONLY remotely helpful thing I've noticed about his sleep is that daytime naps are ESSENTIAL. As the third child, his naps often fall prey to general busy-ness. When that happens, or even when he's woken early, or put down late more than one day in a row, we go back to the waking up every few hours all night long routine. He sleeps at least two full hours every day, without fail. Often three or four. Miss that and you might as well kiss your night goodbye!

    I have no advice, only sympathy. Much much sympathy. It's. The. Worst. I honestly don't know how I've survived this long. And the nights when he reverts to the terrible sleep are like torture because of the emotional baggage of so much lost sleep in his early years. But it didn't actually kill me. Small comfort :) I've come to the conclusion that some children/people are just not good sleepers and that's all there is to it. You have to survive till they grow out of it, or can at least be told to stay in their rooms with some books "till it gets light outside". That's our strategy, anyway.

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  23. I should clarify that until Jamie weaned (at 20 mths) he never ONCE slept through the whole night. Not once. His usual routine was to nurse about every two hours, often less.

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  24. My daughter slept that badly when she was teething. I had to go against all my crunchy tendencies and dose her with ibuprofen almost every night for months. And it made a huge huge difference. Still though, she'd wake up more than I would have liked, which I'm now guessing is due to her severe soy intolerance. We eat a lot of Asian food and I was taking soy lecithin to prevent clogged ducts, so she was getting lots of soy through my milk. It causes her to be constipated and the resulting ache worsens her sleep. So the Advil was probably helping with that discomfort as well, though I used it primarily when I could tell a tooth was coming through. It's at least an easy thing to test: see if a before bedtime dose of ibuprofen improves things. If so, pain is a likely culprit.

    Other than that, experiment with temperature. Warmer PJs if she's sleeping in a crib than if she's cosleeping. Maybe try a different white noise? Ocean waves were my first daughter's favorite, and #2 is addicted to a womb sounds track I have. Personally, I prefer brown noise or rain sounds to white noise.

    I hope you figure out what's bothering her.

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  25. Yikes! Poor you, and poor Ivy! You have probably already checked this, but could she have an ear infection? I hope that whatever it is, you are able to figure it out, or at least find the strength to get through it!

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  26. Oh Rixa. Rixa, Rixa, me heart is just reaching out to you right now. This reminds me so much of what Eric was like right around this age...in fact, exactly at this age. And his sleep patterns aren't all that great even now at 21 months, but it has gotten better. A whole lot better. The only times that seem to get worse are when he is getting a new tooth. Then, it's back to lots of night nursing, though not as much as when he was doing what Ivy was doing.

    I feel awful that I can't give you any advice, considering that I've gone through something similar. Just know that I hear you. I HEAR you. And I get your desperation. I can empathize with where your rant is coming from. And I hope that sleep comes to both of you soon, very soon.

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  27. 1) Like a previous poster replied, I would mess around with naps/keeping her up and try to get that four-hour stretch around the time you would be sleeping.
    2) Is she eating solids? I know that a lot of people say starting them didn't make a difference for their kids, but it did for both of mine.
    3) HOTEL NIGHT. Obviously this doesn't solve the problem long-term, and it may be hell on your husband, but check into a hotel for a night and SLEEP. I did this when my son was 6 months and nowhere near STTN and it was a much-needed rejuvenation.

    Good luck; I truly feel for you.

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  28. Have you considered contacting a sleep doula? I've known a few people who have been greatly supported this way. Good luck!

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  29. I commiserate. I'm truly sleep deprived. Both my babies are like this and it sucks. Truly. My oldest started finally sleeping through at 3, though still wakes once at just shy of 5. DD2 is 19 months and still wakes every 1.5 to 2 hours to nurse. I know the only option is nightweaning, but I just can't listen to her cry with that heartbroken scream, and so instead we'll wait it out and I'll continue to be sleep deprived. No advice. Just miserable company.

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  30. Pretty much all my babies (four total) have had this biological schedule from about 3 months to 12 months of age. They sleep from about 8p to 12a then "wake" every 1-2 hours to nurse until moring. I always just nursed immediately when they would start to root around in their sleep, and that way they never actually woke up and in 5 or 6 minutes we both were back to sleep. My fourth is now 3 months old and has the exact same schedule. So, I guess my best advice is, if she's waking up to nurse, then I would nurse her! Whatever it takes to get all parties happily back to sleep is my motto!! Good luck Rixa! I really hope you get some sleep soon :)

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  31. Wow, so many comments, so many different suggestions. Here's my two cents. She's probably perpetually overtired and therefore too wired with stress hormones (like cortisol) to sleep deeply & easily. Also, she doesn't yet have the self-soothing skills to fall back asleep on her own without nursing. Several commenters recommended working on having good naps and I agree that would help with the overtiredness. An earlier bedtime might also help break the overtiredness cycle. I have a baby that sounds a lot like Ivy and to prevent extra nightwakings, I use a bedtime of 6:30 at the latest, but usually between 5-6pm. Perhaps paying off some of her sleep debt will help. Also, put all your new housemates to work for a few days with taking care of the other kids/making dinner/cleaning so you can get some rest. Like, nurse Ivy to sleep at 5:30 then lay down on Zari's bed until you need to nurse again. Sleep is important and we're all worried about you!

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  32. Oh man. I know how you feel. That was me from November to January last year. I was so desperate I tried CIO at. 9m. No good. I tried again at 11m but it worked. It took a week. I let him nap in my arms for 7 months after that to make up for his nighttime abandonment. I am not giving advice at all just sharing that I understand. I'm so sorry. Sleep depravation is so terrible.

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