Friday, March 18, 2011

What started off as a little "stranger danger" has seemingly escalated into full-blown separation anxiety. Well, at least at bedtime.

This week, Nora suddenly changed from being the type of baby we could put to bed wide awake, to the baby who's head will shoot up as soon as it hits the mattress, and who will scream bloody murder as soon as we turn our backs to walk out of the nursery door. As soon as we go back in, she's fine. As soon as we turn around to walk out again, screaming. Not just crying, SCREAMING.

You wouldn't guess that this sweet little face could scream like that, but she can. It's the "OH.MY.GOSH HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!" scream. It's heartbreaking.

We've tried different methods every night. First, we tried to do "modified" cry-it-out, where we let her cry for a few minutes, go in, shush-pat, and then walk back out. Previous to this separation anxiety stuff, if we ever had a night where she cried (rare), this is what we would do, and we were very successful with it. Now? Not so much. Two hours later, I had gone in at least a dozen times (had even picked her up and tried to rock her to sleep, but she woke up as soon as she was back in her crib), and she was still awake and crying whenever we were not in the room. Michael ended up patting her back until she fell asleep, and at that point she was finally out for the night.

The second night, I couldn't take anymore crying, so I stayed in there with her, patting/rubbing her back until she was sleeping. At one point, I was just sitting there, and that was apparently fine with her, too. Once she was out, I was able to sneak out of the room and all was fine.

Third night? She was really tired, so she actually went down really easily. But don't you worry--she still made sure to lift her head up to make sure I wasn't going anywhere before closing her eyes for the night.

Now, we are back to the SCREAM-YOUR-HEART-OUT fest. I'm sort of at a loss for what to do. I keep reading that the fear of separation is real, to not ignore it--and we don't. We go in there and comfort her. But she doesn't STAY comforted. And she really doesn't care to be rocked to sleep. It happens every once in a while that she'll fall dead asleep on me, but usually, she rests her head but she wriggles around like she wants to be put down so she can stretch out. It's like she can't get 100% comfortable. Patting her back to sleep doesn't always work, either. A lot of times it's a distraction and she keeps lifting her head to look at us.


I hope this phase is a short one! It's just too sad. :(


Anonymous,  March 19, 2011 at 12:59 PM  

Have you tried putting her to bed a little earlier than you usually do? I've read this usually works when you get them down before they are hysterical. We haven't come across this yet, but I'm dreading it! Good luck!

Anonymous,  March 20, 2011 at 1:58 PM  

Have you read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Weissbluth? It has been an AMAZING help in understanding the development of sleep and getting my little 9-month old guy to sleep better.

Anonymous,  March 20, 2011 at 7:56 PM  

Maybe you could help the rest of us and shed some light on some things you did to encourage Nora to be such a good sleeper? I know you run into some trouble here and there, but I'm sure you realize those few nights are nothing in comparison to what others, including myself, experience. My daugher, who is the same age as yours, doesn't nap for longer than half hour increments, still wakes up to eat throughout the night, won't go to bed drowsy but awake. We've tried The Baby Whisperer methods and those just bother her more so even despite being diligent and consistent with the methods. A post on some things you did would be extremely helpful!

Heather March 20, 2011 at 8:18 PM  

ARRGHHHH, I just typed out a really long response to all of you and then it didn't post. Sometimes, I really hate the internet.

Trying again...

Anonymous #1--This week, her best nights have actually been the nights we've put her to bed LATER than usual. It's actually occurred to me that maybe we need to move back her bedtime, not move it up. It makes me wonder if the time change has anything to do with this, even though she was totally normal the first two nights after the time change. *shrug* It's still a mystery, but we're taking it one night at a time. Hopefully we'll start seeing some kind of consistency again soon.

Anonymous #2--I did read (parts of) that book when Nora was teeny tiny, and then again at a few points when we were having challenges. I think what we're dealing with is more a separation anxiety thing than an actual sleep issue, so I never thought to look there. I'll have to pick it up and see what (if anything) it says. Thanks for the reminder!

Anonymous #3--Oh, believe me, even on our worst nights, I know how lucky we are. TRUST ME. I have heard horror stories. I wish I could give advice, but I don't really feel qualified to do so! I don't think we can put our finger on anything in particular that we did to make Nora a good sleeper. I think it's at least partially in her nature. Some kids sleep; others don't. With this post, I'm seeking help with the separation anxiety, not really sleep. I chose to focus on the problems we're having at bedtime because they seem most consistent and severe, but I could've just as easily written about how there are times when she screams her head off because I dare to walk more than three feet away from her. :) She definitely shows signs of separation anxiety at other times, not just bedtime. With all that said, I guess I could try to put together a post about the progression of Nora's sleep habits since birth, and the things we have done. I can't necessarily say that any of them contributed to her good habits, though. But I will see what I can come up with--I guess even if there is one little thing that could help someone, it would be worth doing. I'm sorry you're having trouble with your little one; I really am! I wish I could offer you a solution. :(

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