I’ve been kind of angry lately. I get crabby after too many nights with little to no sleep, and that seems to have been a theme over the last couple of weeks. I’m pretty tolerant of sleep disturbances, but five times per night for weeks or months on end, and I eventually feel like I’m going to snap. Oh, and did I mention that I’m not talking about Adele? Nope. I wish I were. Adele does still nurse anywhere from 2 times per night to 6 times per night, so there’s that to consider as well. But the child pushing me to the brink is actually CeCe, my 5 year old.
CeCe has never been a great sleeper. Heck, who am I kidding? She’s never been even a slightly decent sleeper. She nursed every 30-60 minutes at night her entire first year. She makes Adele look like a champion in the sleep Olympics. I have a LOT of grace for nighttime wake-ups from babies and toddlers. A lot. I don’t push my kids to sleep, and this worked just fine with the twins. They slept progressively better at night as they grew, until the eventually slept through the night and have slept very well ever since. Even Adele, with her frequent nighttime nursing, is slowly but surely sleeping better the older she gets. However, CeCe never went through this progression.
After every bad night, we say WE HAVE TO FIGURE SOMETHING OUT! But the thing is, I just don’t know what to do. We’ve tried everything: no sugar or caffeine before bed, a regular, soothing bedtime routine, a warm bath, books, never any naps, and so on. When she wakes up we comfort her, pray with her if she’s scared, and tuck her back in. We are trying to be consistent with her staying in her own room, rather than co-sleeping, but it’s hard.
Every night, she wakes up screaming. Well, more like crying really, really loudly. We ask her what’s wrong, and she either mumbles unintelligibly, or says I don’t know what’s the matterrrrrrrr! Then there are the multiple wake-ups where she needs covered up, a drink of water (although she usually refuses it if we bring her some) plus a myriad of other reasons. If I let her sleep with us, it’s nearly impossible to console the twins, because they are so near CeCe in age that they all do everything together. Which is another aspect of this ridiculous, difficult situation. They all sleep together. Well, as of last week, Cade is on his own top bunk and the girls are together in the full bed on the bottom. When CeCe wakes up crying, or when we try to just leave her to cry until she (hopefully) falls asleep in exhaustion, she wakes everyone else up.
My feelings on all of this cycle. I am always frustrated by her lack of sleeping through the night, but sometimes I am literally filled with anger towards my 5 year old daughter. Once the anger subsides, I feel guilty for feeling angry with a 5 year old. I wonder if there is something causing her sleeplessness, so I google. I find that rarely, kids can have real sleep disorders. I find recommendations to do all of the things I have mentioned above that we have already tried. I find that sleep disturbances can be a side effect to horrible things like abuse and serious brain issues, which after reading I feel nauseous and worried. I worry that she is just manipulating us to get what she wants, which is to always sleep with us. But then I think, what if she really does have a sleep issue and I’m not helping her the way she needs me to? It’s my job as her mom to help her, take care of her, and advocate for her.
I wish I had a happy ending for all of this. More than anything, I wish I could offer other parents struggling with sleep issues with their children beyond the baby years a solution. But, I have no idea what to do. We are struggling with little sleep, and are unsure of what to try. If you have ever dealt with a child with sleep issues, I would love to hear any tips or advice. We are very open to suggestions at this point. I am considering giving her a small dose of melatonin, but I haven’t yet come to any conclusive evidence that it is safe for a child CeCe’s age. If you posses any wisdom on this issue, do please share it with me in the comment section!