A few weeks ago I had a bit of a breakdown when our then one-month-old baby just refused to sleep. When he was first born and we had to spend 2 nights in the hospital we thought we were the luckiest ones in the ward because while all the other babies wailed all night our little Miloh was sound asleep.
Things were a little different with his sleeping our first 2 nights at home, but that was more my wife and I freaking out than anything. After that he was such an amazing sleeper. He’d only wake up crying for a bottle, we’d feed him and he’d be right back asleep.
Since he was such a good sleeper and because he’s our first baby, and my wife and I were a bit nervous, we decided to take turns sleeping in his room. This helped us because one could sleep while the other was on duty. My shift would go to 3:00 A.M. or later if I was able to handle it.
When Miloh just hit 3 weeks his sleep patterns did a 180. He absolutely refused to sleep and would be up for hours at a time in the middle of the night. Nothing would work consistently. One minute he’d be fine swaddled, the next he’d want out. Sometimes he’d sleep while we bounced on a ball and sometimes we had to bounce our knees…he knew the difference. He also absolutely refuse to stop crying while I jiggled him while sitting…but if I stood he’d be fine.
Then every time I got him to sleep and put him in his bed he’d start wailing again. It got so bad that my coworkers would freely tell me that I looked horrible. And I did as I took the late shift so my wife could get some rest because she had her hands full all day.
The weekend before he hit 4 weeks Miloh stayed at his grandparent’s over night. We were feeling a bit guilty to pawn our now super-fussy baby off on them but we needed the sleep.
In the morning when we picked him up we got the report. He was a perfect angel. Seriously…he slept about 2.5 to 3 hours at a time and didn’t make a peep until he needed a bottle.
That next night I was hoping he shed his cranky pants and was back to being a good sleeper…no such luck. He’d cry and wail for hours at a time. Again I’d try to shelter my wife from this because she had to go it alone during the daytime. I was super frustrated with his crying and it was made worse by the fact that he was an angel at my in-laws.
Was I doing something wrong? If so what was it? Is he allergic to our animals? Is our house too hot, too cold, too dusty, too “not their house?” It was driving me nuts that he just wouldn’t sleep when days before he was fine. After two days of this I grilled my in-laws on what they meant by saying he slept until his next bottle…it means what you’d think. I also asked them everything they did to get him to sleep and I tried it all with no luck.
Every night that week when 3 o’clock came around, the earliest that the changing of the guards occurred if Miloh even so much as sighed I would let her know she was on duty.
After 6 nights of this I hit a wall…I couldn’t deal with it at all. I started tweeting my frustration. I tweeted how I thought he liked the band Stone Roses because while listening to them he finally slept. Minutes later I said I tweeted too soon. Next I tweeted about how my legs were asleep but that was OK because so was Miloh, only to follow up minutes later by saying he spit up and was again awake.
Next I tweeted how I finally figured it out…he likes his feet scratched, only to ask him if he forgot about that in my next tweet.
Then finally I sent a tweet saying “Hope I don’t jinx stuff but I played [the band] Luna to Miloh in utero and just put them on now…he is unwrestless…(I wish that was a word.)” And you know what happened? He slept…almost 2 hours. Ironically he woke to their cover of Guns N’ Roses, “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” but once he fed he went right back to sleep.
The next night I did the same thing and I added some classical music to the mix. At first I thought it was the music that put him to sleep. I thought he remembered it from in utero even though we only played it for him a few times.
Then I had an epiphany. What if Miloh was all crazy this week in part because when he cried, I would become frustrated that I wouldn’t get enough sleep. What if he was feeding off my negative energy?
I had a little paradigm shift. I tried things a bit different. Instead of just trying to calm Miloh I’m going to made sure I was calmed…in hopes that he felt some of that and it helps him too. I continued with music I liked and it worked.
He still got fussy after a few days of this working. His doctor told us she thinks he has acid reflux and we got some medicine for that. I kept up the soothing music but we also put his mattress on an angle to help with the acid reflux. I’m not sure if he was initially fussy because of the acid reflux or because of my frustration. I do however know that when I lost the frustration and made his bedtime as much about me as it is about him, Miloh started to sleep better and so did my wife and I.
A new dad tries to figure out why his new baby won’t sleep.