Today's contribution was written by Amanda, who blogs at Confessions from Household Six. zzzzzzzzzzzz............
Sleep Is For The Weak
We all know to expect to be sleep deprived when we have a newborn. It just comes with the territory. That's why we were pleasantly surprised when our first child slept through the night almost from the very beginning. We'd find out later, this was Mother Nature's cruel, evil plot to get us to procreate again. Really as many problems as we had with our oldest, it wasn't bad. So we decided to try again for a second child, who we affectionately dubbed "Plan B," until we had a proper name chosen.
"Plan B," turned out to be a sleeping nightmare. If I had my second child the first time, he would be an only child. He was born what the medical professionals call a late term preemie at 35 weeks, 1 day. He didn't have to stay in the NICU because of that one day (any baby under 35 weeks where we were was an automatic NICU stay). He got to go home with us. We thought this was a good thing. I wanted to take him back after three nights.
This child would only sleep 20 minutes at a time. On MY chest. Or with ME holding him. No one else. ME. The rest of my time was spent wiping his butt, feeding him, burping him, changing his clothes from the formula he puked all over, and holding him. I could not put the child down. He screamed. I couldn't hand him to anyone else. He screamed. Day and night, I got to sleep about 20 minutes of every hour.
Understandably, my memory of this time is a little fuzzy. I was severely sleep deprived. After a few weeks, he settled into a routine where he would sleep for 30 minutes, sometimes even an hour. Sometimes 15 minutes in his bassinet. I was starting to brush my teeth again on a regular basis at least. During this phase this child also started this really fun thing where he would wake up at about 1am for anywhere from 1-3 hours. We spent the next 5 months with him sleeping in the travel bassinet, and me on the couch so my husband could at least function for work. All through this I was SO thankful my older child was in school so I could nap when the baby slept. Otherwise I would've been totally screwed.
Fast forward to age 4 since that's where I next really remember anything significant. We haven't really slept for the duration of this child's life. After the night where he woke us up every 22 minutes, I was ready to rent him out to the CIA. We finally by this point had an autism diagnosis for both boys. We were a year into the older child's diagnosis, and only a few months into the younger child's. We now had an idea of why this child didn't sleep. We were referred to a neurologist. The neurologist it turned out was only comfortable prescribing one med. We had to find a psych- ologist, -chiatrist, someone to get this child meds. No one the neurologist recommended was approved by our insurance. The insurance office tried to refer us to the ABA therapist. I then had to research a list of no less than 17 behavioral health providers to find one qualified and accepting patients to treat a 4 year old. I came up empty. Then the insurance office gave me the name of a CNRP.
The CNRP we see is fantastic. She understood about the sensory needs right away. She understood that even though a couple of behaviors may be atypical, this child IS on the autism spectrum. Most importantly, she found us a medication that allows us to sleep through the night - provided he also has his blankies, toy, fan for noise, and bed tent. We still wake up early in the morning, but it's not every 20 minutes. It's not 20 minutes of every hour. It's not 5am. It's been 6:30am. I never thought 6:30am would be such a glorious time, but it is. Compared to the sleep we've had over the last 5 years, it's sleeping in late.
Now if I could just get my doctor to understand why my sleeping patterns are off. I'm sure his would be too if he hadn't really slept since 2004.