Why can’t you help me fix my son’s sleep dramas?
The life rule I break on the most consistent basis is “Google is not a doctor. Do not ask it what your problem is.” But I do ask. A lot. Very little good can come of doing it. I know this in my head, but not in my fingertips. Any time anything is slightly awry with any part of any member of my family’s bodies I find myself sacrificing hours of my life to Goggle Almighty. He, like my other God, always hears my prayers, but doesn’t always answer. Why Google, why? WTF, Google, WTF?
Most of the time the reason I can’t get on the same (web)page (ahem) is because I don’t have the gift of search words. I should do, I believe I taught a class on this during my brief but glorious stint as a uni lecturer. But I have mid-term memory problems, so I don’t. I ended up leaving that job because Dylan’s health was going crazy. My Internet searches have come up with all sorts of bazaar and highly distracting information. I won’t go into that right now because I tend to be long-winded when it comes to irrelevant details. It’s a generational curse/blessing passed down from my father’s side.
Several years ago I landed a neat little freelance job writing content for HK’s .gov website. It was super fun and I did several days of it sitting in the studio at Hillsong Church, Sydney while my husband and sound tech guru Pete Wallis (the only genuine people-person of a sound tech I have ever come across in my life) mixed our church band’s first album. That was quite a diversion, but the point I’m making is that it was a really fun and flexible job.
I spent hours researching HK’s various online resources on specific topics to make things user-friendlier. I’m getting so side-tracked now that I can’t actually remember why I started this story…Um…oh yah, so one day, several years later, I was at wit’s end trying to figure out how to get some hired help for housekeeping/babysitting without having a live-in Helper, and without breaking the law in Hong Kong, then, I stumbled across a really helpful webpage, and got really excited, and then later realized I was the one who had written it. I rolled my eyes at my own silliness and then, a couple days later I realized I had already been through that exact same exercise when my beloved Father passed away – I needed to find out what logistical things I could do to help my Mum, so I googled what to do when someone dies, and bam, there is was, an incredibly helpful webpage. Weeks later I found the exact, but unedited, text right there on my laptop from the work I had done whilst in Sydney in the company of my husband and Pete the legend.
I’m going to go ahead and ignore the voice of wisdom suggesting I delete most of the above paragraphs and move right onto the reason I started this post in the first place:
My son hates sleep.
Quick recap – after 2 years of mystifying and torturous confusion he was diagnosed with Infant Sleep Apnea, and then had tonsils and adenoids out. He has been mostly physically well since is operation in March, but sleep is still a huge problem in our family.
We have probably not helped the situation by moving across the world, away from everything he has ever known, and by having a nomadic summer of living out of suitcases in people’s spare rooms for the last 8 weeks.
Every one of my parenting ideals has gone out the window since Dylan was born. He is my humble pie and I love him dearly but man oh man does he put us through it. I am actually going grey.
Layla, my first, is a textbook angle. I could set my iPhone clock to her. She eats well, sleeps perfectly in her own room, toilet trained with no problem, and cannot wait to start her first day of school tomorrow. I mention this only to balance out how crap I am about to make myself as a mother look in the next couple paragraphs – I did, at one point in history know exactly what I was doing as a parent. But:
Dylan is very sensitive. I don’t blame him with all he’s been through – imagine not being able to tell the person who is meant to be looking after you I can’t sleep because I can’t breathe! I am crying because I am scared I will stop breathing if you lie me down!
Dylan doesn’t eat much. He is happiest if he can watch an iPad as I spoon food into his mouth, or if I chase him around, or if he can exist off goldfish crackers on the go. He won’t eat green things, mushrooms, boiled eggs, or anything that isn’t a cracker, a sausage or a scotch egg…unless I am in the middle of telling someone that he won’t eat the above… then he will stuff his face with it all. Using action or inaction to contradict mouthing-off parent: it’s the law when you are two.
Dylan sleeps in my bed, sideways, creating a perfect letter H with the three bodies present. He must tumble around for at least 60 mins before falling asleep and he will wake, often high-pitched screaming at least once, but sometimes four times a night. The most successful way to settle him is to give him a bottle. He doesn’t take a dummy, doesn’t suck his thumb, doesn’t have a blankie or any other comfort item. The only problem with the bottle is that Dylan has a very sensitive digestive system and it does an allergic reaction to anything that it gets overloaded with over a long period of time. He has, at various stages, been declared allergic to dairy and soy, but we now find he can handle everything as long as we rotate them.
Getting out of bed in the middle of the night when you are dog-tired is really hard. It makes for a grumpy day to follow. Having to get up and down multiple times over the course of months is akin to torture. Half of me apologizes for going on about it, but the other half needs the writing therapy. Last month I resorted to buying little box-drink sized rice milks and bringing them to bed with us. I can tear the corners off those suckers with my teeth and pour them into his bottle with my eyes closed. Literally.
New problem is his nappies can’t handle his full bladder any more – he is busting out of them and wetting the bed. Not convenient at all. Can’t change the sheets with my eyes closed. May or may not have opted to just sleep on pee once or twice recently.
So…where are we now… I tried to ask what my hilarious mother refers to as “the googles” what to do about Dylan and the mess we are in. I need a toddler whisperer. Google’s got nothing for me. Lots on Sleep Apnea and how to know if you have it, what to do about it, how to prepare for and recover from the op…but precious little on how to survive prolonged sleep deprivation and how to sleep train a 2.5 yr old with serious sleep issues.
A small but cocky voice from my inner jury is suggesting I help my prolonged sleep deprivation by not writing prolonged blog posts when I could be asleep.
I don’t listen to many of the inner voices.
Another little voice inside keeps peeping “but it’s not my fault it’s like this – I would have sleep trained him and let him cry down, but the sleep apnea bla bla bla…”
Is there any point placing blame? Yes and no I think. I’m sure I’ve made many mistakes along the way. The foggy brain has not helped, but the cause of the brain fog is beyond my control. (okay, cocky voice, I will go to bed in 5 minutes.)
This came up on my twitter feed the other day:
If you are sleep deprived:
1. You gain weight.
2. You burn muscle instead of fat.
3. Physical performance is greatly reduced.
Thanks for nothing, @LiveFitToday Followed by Morgan Freeman. Like salt in the wound.
From what I know, it is important to trace back and understand how one got into the situation one is in, in order to see a way out, but meanwhile for us the problem gets worse by the day and the only way out is to push foggy brain to find the solution to the brain-fog-inducing problem. Think, foggy brain, think! The Googles can’t save you, it’s all on you, foggy brain.
Tonight Tom went to see a concert. Dylan, Layla and I brushed teeth and settled in my bed for stories. Layla went out like a light and Dylan sang songs and tumbled happily for 45 mins. Then he broke into cries and cried upward for another hour. It escalated to the point of hysteria so I took him to another room so Layla wouldn’t wake. I cuddled him and spoke to him calm and firmly, and finally he fell asleep, and I mean fell. I suspect he passed out from exhaustion. One can only scream-cry for so long. I did what I thought best but that’s what I’ve been doing all along and the problem isn’t any closer to fixed. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong but I know I need to figure it out and change something before foggy brain has a car accident.
I hereby commit myself to figuring this out and blogging about it so that the Internet will have something to offer the next sleepy mother who comes along – even if it is me, having forgotten that I wrote this.