We haven’t been getting much sleep lately, and it has nothing to do with our six month old.
No, we’ve been quite lucky that she has been sleeping, for the most part, through the night. Sometimes a need to nurse arises in the wee hours, but on the whole – she’s been great.
One of our little kitties however, has not.
It usually begins around 3:30 in the morning. Sometimes four.
Sometimes I try to ignore it, or my arm instinctively falls out of the sheets and down the side of the bed to pet his orange fur, hoping it’s just some attention and affection he’s looking for at these early morning hours. He takes the petting, of course, for a moment or two before turning around to walk away.
Though I wouldn’t call it a success as his battle plan then takes one of several paths – one is to scratch at the bed itself, always conveniently out of our reach, making one of us get up and out of bed to stop him.
Another tactic involves jumping onto my wife’s nightstand and knocking over any myriad of objects atop – a pile of books, a stack of magazines, remote controls, or her water bottle. It used to be a glass of water. We’ve learned that lesson time and time again.
If his plan involves my side of the bed, it means any number of magazine, books, or comics thrown with his back feet across the floor beside my bed, or knocking over any notepads, paper, etc, atop. He’s tried for my alarm clock, with a fifty-fifty shot at success, or the lamp. There’s nothing quite like being awakened by a table lamp, tall, slim in the middle giving it easy tipping ability, landing on your head as you sleep.
Now I should mention, this little guy has been a part of our family longer than either of our kids. In fact, we got him right before we got married, six years ago. And in those six years, he’s found a comfortable spot or two and slept right on through the night. Perhaps a little frisky fighting with his brothers now and then, but otherwise, it’s been dreamland for him. So it wasn’t always this way. In fact, it started just before our little girl was born six months ago.
When the petting did not get us anywhere, I thought that maybe his stomach was the one in the driver’s seat. So, I’d either guide him downstairs, or pick him up and carry him downstairs, setting him down in front of his bowl, always full of food, to remind him he has food there. He starts snacking, to which I then proceed back upstairs to fall asleep, only to have him wake me up about a half hour to 45 minutes later and we start the dance again.
Thinking it was his stomach, I began putting a dish of food in our room before we go to bed. Perhaps having it closer will help and put an end to this.
It hasn’t, and all it’s done is create the expectation that this extra dish will be there.
I should note, with the age and condition of our house, the doors to rooms do not close and latch like you’d find in most homes. That means that even if you close a door, it can with great ease be pushed open by a feline head. So, that option has been ruled out.
And rather than risk him waking Meg (although he sometimes still does), the baby, or our little guy, I continue to get up when he waltzes in at that 3:30-4 a.m. point every morning, and the intervals that follow.
At one point, I woke up in our hallway. I had lured him out of the room and downstairs only to have him come up again, and I fell asleep without making it back to the room.
I just can not fathom what exactly sparked this, and still, months later have not figured out what it is he wants. Petting, hugging, holding – he’ll have none of it in those wee morning hours. Food – a few bites then back at it.
At first I thought perhaps the Daylight Saving change in the fall/winter, but that disappeared in the spring to no change. Could it have been the baby? But this behavior started before she was born? And it didn’t happen when our son was born.
We’ve often wondered if there’s something neurological underlying within him. He was a pretty bad case when we found him. Curled up in the bushes, barely able to move, he lifted one paw up and placed it on my wife as she bent down near him, and our hearts melted. We scooped him up and took him home where he wouldn’t eat, drink or anything. Getting him to a vet, he stayed there for a week before we could take him home with us.
The doctor said had he been on his own a few more hours before we found him, he wouldn’t have made it. He was sick, beat-up, and barely had the ability to move, or even meow. He would try, but nothing would come out.
He was estimated at the time to be about a year or a year and a half by the vet, making him about 7 years old today, though we’ve always suspected he’s either older than their estimation or just lived enough life to seem that way.
Whatever they did at the vets that week, they brought him back from death’s door, and we couldn’t be more grateful. But being that close to the end, we’ve always accepted that his return came with a series of chronic health issues as a trade off. Many an issue that we’ve dealt with short-term, some long, but we’ve handled them.
Could this be among those issues? If so, why only surface now?
I have no idea.
All I know is that I love him, but man am I exhausted and befuddled as to what it is he wants. But, though many probably think of me as crazy, I will continue…because I love him.
Even as adults, when we get overtired, we get irritable. Take that and multiply it by about fifty and you get an overtired baby.
Some might say “well just put the baby to bed,” but we’ve found that it has not been so easy.
Our little guy hates to go to sleep, especially during the day. I mean, HATES it. Once he’s sleeping, he looks like a peaceful little angel, but that’s a long road to get to. He just does not want to nap, no matter how tired he may be.
He screams, he yells, he makes anyone passing by the home think you’re murdering him. We’re talking blood curdling screams some times.
I don’t know if he’s afraid he’s going to miss something if he goes to sleep, if he’s afraid something’s going to happen to him if he allows himself to sleep, I have no clue, but it has led to some very late, very sleep-deprived nights.
First of all, he hates being on his back. He is not the type of baby you can just lay down in the crib or in the pack and play and have him entertain himself, even for a moment or two. No, he will wail to get upright, and since he’s not yet sitting up or crawling on his own, that requires the help of mommy and daddy.
That often leads to a lot of holding between the two of us to keep him from flipping out, something the grandparents have told us is “making him too dependent” and “going to make things harder as time goes on.”
What else would you do, though? We’re not the types who believe in the “letting them cry it out” approach. I’ve read too much that says letting them crying it out makes them feel abandoned, without support or help, and something that psychologically will stay with them as they develop into children and little people. No thank you.
So we pick him up. We take turns with him at home. One cooks, the other holds. One showers, the other holds, one works on house projects, the other holds. If we’re lucky, he might fall asleep in our arms and be able to be transferred to his crib, which leads to a nap and a few minutes for mom and dad.
If not for those moments, though, he would never nap. You can tell he needs to, but he will scream bloody murder if you try to put him down for one, and falling asleep in our arms doesn’t always work. Sometimes the screaming just continues.
Unfortunately, it also makes life difficult for grandma, who babysits him during the day when he’s having a bad day.
When night time comes, we have to work our hardest to lull him to sleep, which has made our attempts at getting him on a schedule difficult since the beginning. We’ve tried singing, we’ve tried cradling (like i say, hates being on his back), we’ve tried reading a story, a bath, etc. Occasionally running the white noise of the vacuum cleaner will work, but not always.
We have some relatives that have jumped automatically to “there’s something wrong” or “he needs to be checked out by the doctor,” but that’s not the case. He’s been to the doctor multiple times and he’s fine. They say he’ll grow out of it. I’ve heard from some parents that it tends to subside when the child becomes mobile, so all of this may be moot in a few months.
However, until he is mobile, we definitely will be, continuing to pick him up, move him around, do tours of the house, and just try so very very hard when he gets cranky to keep him soothed and distracted in the hopes of getting the sleep he needs.
Any parents out there who’ve had trouble with babies who don’t want to sleep?
We’re at 5 months old now, with the norm being two 15 minute naps in the course of the day, but usually a full night of rest, with the occasional waking for a feeding in the middle of the night.
I’d love to hear what worked, what didn’t if there’s any folks who went through a similar boat.