Sunday, November 09, 2008

Need Parenting Advice

Sorry again to people who aren't into the parental aspects of my nature (but sometimes it's all-consuming, as at the moment when I am running on no sleep). Need some help/advice/encouragement from other parents.

Maggie has been having miserable nights lately. We did our first big cross-country trip (w/plane ride) and a visit to cousins (some sickness there). On the plane home, she started screaming like she never has - top of her lungs, very high pitched but throaty (not a squeal). On the first plane ride she was happy, so this was totally weird. Even feeding her didn't always work. She either screamed or slept for 4 hours.

Then we got home and that night she screamed the same way all night. She was very warm to the touch, and definitely sounded congested. We were up with her off and on from 1 until 5, when I finally gave up and got up. In the morning I noticed her nose was running (clear). Her breathing continues to be noisy, and she stayed feverish all day. Friends/family suggested either a cold or a tooth (she's always been a big drooler and into gnawing). Teethers don't seem to help, though, except they distract her. I hate the sound of this cry.

The next day she was really fussy and miserable, but by that night, she slept well. She'd fuss but we could get her back to sleep. Yay.

However, the next night (last night), after a busy day playing at a museum (maybe I overdid it?), she was again up every 2 hours and would only nurse to go back to sleep (she went down at 5:30, we woke her for her night dipe & jammies at 7:30, and she stayed asleep only until 12, after that it was every 2 hours). She wasn't screaming, but she cried her "hungry" cry (still, sometimes she nursed vigorously and other times just went on the breast to go to sleep). It was exhausting - like having a newborn again.

Is this behavior normal for a 5 month old - to suddenly stop being able to sleep? She's been sleeping through the night since 7 weeks, so this is completely unusual for us. She's been a great sleeper, and even when wakes almost never actually cries. This is a very sudden change in her behavior. I've read about the 4 mo sleep regression happening at 5 mos. She's also mastering lots of new skills (rolling over & sitting up), maybe that's it. And she might be overtired because she only ever naps for short periods (20-40 mins), and that 2x per day, sometimes three if we let her nap in the late afternoon. But then, she's always been like that, and it's never affected her nighttime sleep. The problem isn't getting her to sleep, it's keeping her asleep (most of the sleep solutions I read about are for getting to sleep).

Or maybe she is just reacting badly to her first cold or tooth (although no tooth yet, so I'm thinking cold). So it might not be a major problem at all, but just a phase. Still, it worries me - will we go through this EVERY time she is sick or teething? Because yikes. It's really horrible. J and I fought tons yesterday (the only way we stopped was that Maggie and I literally just left for the whole day) because we're both so tired.

And we can't let her just cry because her bassinet is in our room and we have housemates. We're not in a position to move her to another room. Sometimes bringing her into bed with us helps; sometimes it just makes it harder. At least this morning she's her normal happy self (how is that possible with so little sleep?). The last two mornings she woke up crying instead of cooing - totally weird for her! I'm glad she's happy; but man, are we pooped!

What do you think? A 5 month thing? Or maybe because of the travel/new skills/lack of naps? Should we redouble our efforts for naps? Or just hunker down and wait for it to pass? Please tell me it's normal! Have you experienced something similar??


Jennifer Thorson said...

I commend to you the book "The Wonder Weeks" by Hetty Vanderijt and Frans Plooij. It describes the developmental leaps and accompanying fussy stages in the first two years of life.

The fussy signs from week 19 (give or take a couple of weeks): She may have trouble sleeping. She may demand more attention. Her head may need more support. She may lose her appetite. She may be moody. She may be listless.

And how this might affect you: You may (still) be exhausted. You may feel trapped. You may feel resentful.

The good news is, all this fussiness is related to new skills she developing. In week 19, they begin working on understanding sequences. Just think what fun things she is about to discover.

You can do this. It will pass.

JTB said...

Clare slept through the night at 2 months, and kept it up until, you guessed it, month 5. We suffered through for a couple months until finally out of desperation (returning to the newborn routine after leaving it behind fits the definition of cruel though perhaps not unusual) we tried the 5 min cry-it-out thing. It worked in 3 days. They were a miserable three days, but hell, we weren't sleeping anyway.

My mom's theory, somewhat like the above comment, was that the developmental milestones are typically accompanied by shifts in sleeping pattern. I don't know where she read it but it seems to have been true all down the line with Clare.

Stasi said...

Thanks, Frog. Interesting you would mention understanding sequences. She's been doing some amazing things lately that probably relate to that new skill. Lots of the stuff you mention is going on, except the listless (if anything she needs MORE stimulation than usual). I feel all the things you say, only not about her - mostly about my housemates, my school program, pretty much everything else in life except Maggie, who I guess can do no wrong in her mama's eyes.
Anyway thank you. It is helpful. Today at church she participated bodily in the liturgy, on her own - it was so exciting!

Wormwood's Doxy said...

The basic truth of parenting is that periods where your baby/child is doing exactly what you want her to do will NEVER last.


Embrace that fundamental fact, and life will be much easier for all concerned. ;-)


P.S. I'll bet on teething. I'm sorry about the housemates. If you are like me, you are probably feeling more angst on their behalf than any actual annoyance they are experiencing. Prayers for all concerned...

M.J. said...

5 months can mean she's in the midst of another developmental curve. And while there are no teeth buds yet it could be that her gums are feeling pain related to teething already.

She could be overstimulated a bit as well with the changes in time (though you would not think that would be something at this age), weather, cold etc. not to mention that she is really paying attention and soaking in her environment these days as well.

I've shared with families I've worked with in the past to try to make as regular a schedule as you can, let the baby to an extent tell you what she may need at the time and just give everyone a lot of grace during the period. It will pass.