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Twinfant Tuesday: Asleepyness

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I first wrote this post when my daughters were 9 months old.  Looking back on it today is a trip, especially because we just survived a 2 year sleep regression with Emma.  Jane has been a wonderful sleeper, but has dropped naps completely at day care!  Here’s where we stood 2 years ago.

How do you survive the first year of motherhood?

“Sleep when they sleep,” they said.

“Nap when they nap,”  they said.

But what do you do when they rarely sleep OR nap???

It feels like it’s been WEEKS since I last slept through the night.  Between the girls being sick and their 9 month sleep regression (yes, that’s a real thing!), I don’t remember the last time we got a good night of sleep.  Or a good day of sleep, come to think of it.

Needless to say, we are exhausted.  And running out of steam.  Quickly.

So I went on a search desperately seeking sleep advice.  I visited various websites, made about 473 phone calls to doctors and nurses and grandmas and friends.  I felt like I was on a quest for the Holy Grail.  And I may have found some solace.

I stumbled upon a sleep blog where the author’s words caught my eye and made me really think:

“Sleep deprivation… UGH. There’s a reason it’s commonly used as a form of torture!”

SHE’S SO RIGHT!!!  I’ve definitely been suffering from the effects of sleep deprivation.  I’m normally a pretty logical person.  I have a short fuse and sometimes I can be pretty ditzy, but I would say that I can make sense of things and think on my feet for the most part a majority of the time.

But lately, I’ve been feeling sluggish, extremely short-tempered, angry, and desperate.  I realized a couple of days ago that after 9 months of NO SLEEP, I am beginning to suffer from sleep deprivation.

Here’s what I found out.

1.  Everyone goes through this.

2.  It’s all my fault.

3.  It can be fixed.

Let me explain.

We (people) have sleep associations.  When we go to bed at night, we lay our head down on a pillow and pull the blankets up to our chins.  Throughout the night, we wake several times, even if we don’t remember it.  We readjust the blanket, fluff our pillow, and fall back into Sleepyville with little issue.

Now imagine you’re a baby.  To fall asleep, you need your wooby, a blankie, a pacifier or a bottle, and maybe even a session in a rocking chair.  All of these things are supplied by the adult in charge of you, and have been since you came home, since you can’t figure out how to get your little legs to rock the chair or how to make your hands bring your choopie to your mouth.  So your adult provides you with all of these things to help you get to sleep.  Thank you, adult!

In the middle of the night, you awaken, find that your choopie is gone, or that you can’t fall back asleep.  You look for a bottle, but it’s not there.  You try to find your choopie, but that’s missing, too.  And for the life of you, you cannot make your crib rock!  So you cry out, and hope and pray that your adult will bring you one of the things that you have come to depend upon to fall asleep.

I’m totally guilty of doing this to my poor littles.

Luckily, this is a habit that we can break!  It’s not too late!

After speaking with our pediatric sleep specialist, she confirmed all of the information that I had found on the internet.  It is time to readjust our bedtime routine, and take away those sleep props.

Last night, we ate dinner at 5:00, had some fruit at 5:30, and took a bottle at 6:00.  From 6:00-7:00, I changed the sheets on their beds, put them into their pjs and nighttime diapers, and then read them a bedtime story.  Finally, Hershey and I braced ourselves for a fight.  We knew that putting them down in their crib without that bottle that they fall asleep on every night was going to be a war.

We turned off the lights, kissed them goodnight, and placed them in their respective cribs.

They were both asleep before their little tiny heads hit the beds.

Now, we did NOT have a restful night of sleep.  They woke up several times throughout the night.  BUT the awakenings were over by around 2:30-3:00.  I woke up at 5:00 thinking, What did I miss?!

At 5:55, Jane and Emma woke up for the morning.  They seemed happy and refreshed.  Both went down for a nap at around 9:00.  Jane is sitting next to me right now, just finished her mid-morning bottle.  Emma is still sleeping.

I’ve also discovered a couple of other things.

One size does not fit all.  It seems like Emma sleeps longer in the morning, and needs less of a nap in the afternoon, while Jane needs a longer afternoon nap and sleeps for a shorter time in the morning.

Limiting toys with flashing lights and music before sleepy time really does help them to unwind.  Think about if you went on a rollercoaster and then tried to lay down to go to sleep.  Probably wouldn’t work out too well for you.

If they wake up after 20 minutes, play with them quietly for 10, and they will usually go back to sleep.

During this time, they are going through the biggest brain development phase of their lives.  They are busy in their cribs at night practicing new skills in their heads.  Provide lots of time during the day for them to practice their new skills, and once they master those skills, they will sleep better!

And finally, the piece of information that rocked my world the most — THERE IS NO SCIENCE BEHIND STUFFING THEM TO MAX CAPACITY BEFORE BED.  Just because you give them a bottle and put them to bed doesn’t mean that they will happily sleep through the night with a full belly.  In fact, the opposite may take effect (they may be sensitive to pee-pee diapers, in which case they will waken to a sopping wet diaper, begging to be changed).
I hope that you find this helpful, and that you (and I) find some peace soon!  Remember to be patient with them — I often find myself losing my temper because I, too, am exhausted, and I have to tell myself, “They are going through SO MANY changes in those little bodies, and every change is a change to their routine and need.  BREATHE!”

This, too, shall pass.

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Mama of twin baby girls, Jane and Emma, Wife to Hershey, Teacher at her alma mater, poet, realist, kitty-lover, friend. She decided to blog because during her pregnancy, she could never find anything having to do with twins or multiples. There was no advice out there for registries for multiples, or pregnancy, or life after delivery. Jessica felt extremely alone, and spent most of her pregnancy in a funk. Today, she is the happiest she's ever been. She continues to improve her craft (teaching) through various professional development outlets, and learns something new about being a mother every day. Jessica is in love with her girls, with being a mama, with her husband, and with life. She is the one people go to when they want the truth.

34 thoughts on “Twinfant Tuesday: Asleepyness”

  1. Always find it interesting to hear how other parents are doing sleep-wise!
    I am guilty of thinking it’s better that they’ve eaten a really good meal before bed and stressing if they don’t! I shall try and relax about that.
    I’m just weaning my second off breastfeeding and worrying what impact that will have on her bedtime routine. Fingers crossed she adapts ok as we’ve not been doing too badly in the sleep front. I still obsess about sleep but I think I am back from the brink of full on sleep deprivation!

  2. I hope you manage to get some sleep soon – I have had 4 children pretty close in age so I do know a little about sleep deprivation but I can’t imagine how hard it must be having multiples!! The photos are so lovely :) #TwinklyTuesday

  3. “This too shall pass” was (and still is) my mantra!! Good and bad. They are beautiful little girls…congratulations. I miss sleep like an old friend, but now when I get the chance, I can’t even do it. Must be getting old!
    Anna @mummymuckups
    #Twinkly Tuesday
    Anna Brophy recently posted HAVING KIDS WON’T CHANGE MEMy Profile

  4. Sleep deprivation is awful but hang in there, your doing a great job!! Your girls are gawjus and hopefully they let you get some sleep soon :) I never manage to nap when my kids nap, and they never nap at the same time anyways (not twins just close). Totally agree they are all different which makes it hard, one of mine will nap but wakes at the crack of dawn, the other will sleep in but won’t nap. #twinklytuesday
    Mum in the Cotswolds recently posted Autumn scented play-doughMy Profile

  5. Wow your babies are the cutest!! Your photos are lovely!! It is not easy having kids, imagine 2 at the same time!! So you are doing amazingly well!! The sleep regression is something that always happens. Actually I will say that there will be always something on the way with your kids. We just need to be patient and positive because those phases don’t last for ever. Thanks for sharing this lovely post! :-)
    A Moment with Franca recently posted My Sunday Photo – My First Flower ShotMy Profile

  6. Baby sleep is a tough one and we’re all guilty of doing whatever for an easy life. And you’re totally right when you say that babies will wake up looking for an adult to provide them with the comfort they need as that’s all they know. Great post #TwinklyTuesday
    The Breastest News recently posted Dear GranMy Profile

  7. Hmmmm hasn’t passed for me yet and my son is 3.5. My 20 month old has slept through the night since 8 months old but I’m still waiting for the 3.5 yr old to. It’s not that easy to be consistent when you have two and they sharer a room and the older one is waking the younger one every night. We are just about to set peat their bedroom into two and hoping and praying that this will help my son to satay in his own room because I haven’t had a full nights sleep in four years and believe me, it’s not my fault! Some kids for whatever reason just don’t sleep through.

    Visiting from your twinklytuesdays linky. Thanks for hosting.
    Unhinged Mummy (aka Janine Woods) recently posted Positivity In Pictures 18My Profile

  8. It used to infuriate me when people said ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’. It’s all very well if you have a baby that sleeps! My babies rarely, if ever, slept during the day and when they finally drifted off in the evening, I used to race around washing and sterilising bottles, putting the washing on, cooking dinner and cleaning up and if I was very lucky, taking a shower and washing my hair! Like you say, everything is a phase and even when you think you’ve finally cracked it, things can always change a few days down the line! Instead of telling you to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ they should say ‘roll with the punches!!’ It’s all part of the journey! xx
    Sue @ Home Heart Harmony recently posted How to survive the stomach bug seasonMy Profile

  9. Great advice, luckily I’ve been a good sleeper (unless I’m unwell) my mummy never gave me a dummy and I haven’t got a big crutch to fall back on. The only thing I like to settle me occasionally is a little back rub. It usually takes us 3 days to break out of any little rituals that start forming and we try not to make anything a habit unless it’s part of our bedtime routine x thanks for sharing this! I’m sure it will be really useful for new parents too x #TwinklyTuesday P.s really cute twins xx
    Baby Isabella recently posted Blog On Winchester ReviewMy Profile

  10. My first child slept so bloody brilliantly (both at night and naps during the days) that I turned into a bit of smug mum (ugh!) and thought sleep regression didn’t actually exist. Then my daughter was born, and wow did I regret that smugness! It’s only in the last couple of months (she’s 29 months now) that she has started to sleep through most nights. Her sleep regression at 9 months was absolutely horrendous. I definitely learnt my lesson. xxx #twinklytuesday
    catherine @pushingthemoon recently posted Meal Planning Monday… On a TuesdayMy Profile

  11. what a gorgeous duo! We are currently going through a sleep nightmare with Little Red. It’s totally our fault for letting her fall asleep in our arms. eek. Now we’re making progress and can put her down in her cot awake. As long as we sit next to her for a little while. She goes to sleep relaxed – she does wake through the night, but I think she thinks that the giant blue care bear beside her cot is actually me still sitting there. The care bear will have to be addressed another time! 😉
    Sugar&Rhubarb recently posted Baby Reflux – Signs, Help & InformationMy Profile

  12. This brings back memories of when my twins were small. Sleep was so precious. My twins also preferred sleep at different times (one is still a night owl and the other a lark). All seems like a distant memory now though- everything is a phase! #TwinklyTuesday

  13. We learnt the ‘prop’ lesson the hard way with our first, were completely broken by the time he was 5 months, sorted the bad habits and then managed to largely avoid them with two and three! Every baby is different, but the routine you outlined above certainly worked for us :) #twinklytuesday
    Sara | mumturnedmom recently posted The Prompt: Week 86My Profile

  14. I think it’s quiet common for new mums to have sleep deprivation… I had experienced it with my two, but since I settled into a routine with them, that sorted everything out. Hopefully, your routine works for you and you’ll then eventually enjoy sleep. #TwinklyTuesday

  15. Sleep deprivation really is tough and drives us to trying any quick fix! But you are so right with what you say right at the end, this too will end… it’s just a phase and it won’t last forever! IUnless you are crazy enough to have 5 kids and then it does sometimes feel like I have been sleep deprived for ever!
    Claire recently posted Autumn Crafts with Baker RossMy Profile

  16. Your little girls are so cute! Baby sleep is a minefield, I do agree with the feeding to sleep, it’s something we need to stop, however, my daughter will put her milk down and just lie there happily waiting to fall asleep, so I think she does need to milk she drinks most of the time… But, naps are a nightmare, I can’t imagine how you do it with twins. You really deserve a medal #twinklytuesday
    NewMummyBlog recently posted Moving house with a 9 month old baby – top tipsMy Profile

  17. Such cuties! We’ve been really lucky with our daughter (touch wood!) as she seems to love sleep just as much as I do… Apparently that wasn’t always the case though. My mum’s favourite baby rearing story to tell is the time she begged the GP to give her something if he couldn’t do anything to get me to sleep, because she couldn’t cope any longer! (She says my comeuppance will come with baby number two.)

  18. Aw I remember this well – although I DO NOT KNOW how you coped with two!! Sleep deprivation is most definitely the route of all evil and I remember thinking when I was going through it ‘how the hell do people with twins cope?? You never think it’s going to end at the time do you, but alas it does! We’ve been pretty lucky – we’re almost 10 months now so I’m hoping we’ve missed the 9 months sleep regression! We ended up taking Taylor’s dummy away at 4 months as she was constantly waking up for it in the night, it really worked for us #TwinklyTuesday
    Mum in Brum recently posted Why you shouldn’t take your birth plan too seriouslyMy Profile

  19. I found routine is the most important thing for establishing a good sleep regime. Although, having said that, Elodie seems to be struggling with sleep recently and we are still keeping a good routine. I’m hoping it’s a short lived teething thing. Some lovely pics of your littles in this post xx #TwinklyTuesday
    Kerrry recently posted No Bake Cheat’s Cake PopsMy Profile

  20. We suffered a 4 month slerp regression and it never improved so the 8-9 month one went without noticing! I’m so glad you mentioned the brain development thing, it what gets me through the 3am playtime. Just knowing he’s practicing and relaying everything he’s seen that day means I’m never too worried. Life’s so exciting when everything’s new! #twinklytuesdays
    Ali recently posted Decorating a dining room in grey and yellowMy Profile

  21. We had bed time issues with Tin Box Tot right up to the age of two and a half. In the past month something seems to have clicked. I know what it is of course. We took away one of her sleep props – namely us! After a few nights of protests we can now put her into her bed and not have to wait what used to be 45 mins to an hour for her to drift off. She rolls over and drifts off straight away. It’s amazing having that extra time to ourselves each evening! #twinklytuesday
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller recently posted Mr Tin Box is running the London MarathonMy Profile

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