45 Minutes

For about a month-and-a-half now, Jones has exclusively been taking 45-minute naps. (He is 4 months.) I go back and forth on how to deal with this issue (and also on whether it even is an issue), but there is no doubt about it that it bothers me to no end. It is the source of frequent crying spells and fits of anger. There are days when I hear him on the monitor, 45 minutes on-the-dot, and fall in a heap of tears, wondering what else I could possibly try to get him to sleep.

I’ve tried lengthening his awake time to make him more tired before his nap. I’ve tried shortening it, for fear that the lengthening made him overtired or overstimulated so he couldn’t settle into his nap longer. I’ve tried letting him cry for 10, 20, 30, and sometimes 40 minutes. I’ve tried patting him, holding him, rocking him, rubbing his eyebrows, and covering his eyes. I’ve put up curtains in hopes of making it darker. I’ve brought a little fan into the room for some white noise. I’ve swaddled, swaddled, and re-swaddled. I’ve given him a pacifier. I’ve tried everything.

One week ago, he seemed to be over the hump, and he slept three 1.5 hour naps each day for four days. I was ecstatic. Then he woke up once at 45 minutes. “It’s just one nap,” I told myself, nonchalantly. Then he did it again on the next nap. And the next. And the next — until I fell into a heap of tears yesterday. I felt betrayed, like he’d given me some hope that this phase was over, and then thrown it back into my face.

Today, that seems utterly ridiculous. He’s a baby. He’s not trying to torment me or purposely make my life harder (though he inadvertently does).

Today, I realized that though I do want him to sleep longer for his own benefit, its mostly selfish. I want more time to clean/nap/do laundry/read/see friends/etc. When he’s awake, he’s in need of my constant attention, particularly because he’s at the stage of life where he’s beginning to understand our relationship just a tiny bit more. “I need her” — whether that means for eating, cuddling, or laughing.

So, now that I’ve said all this, what do I do? This doesn’t mean that I stop caring about his napping, right? (I tend to be an extremist — either I care too much, or I don’t care at all.) Any suggestions?

4 thoughts on “45 Minutes

  1. Oh my gosh…it was like reading my own thoughts at the exact same age!!!!! My little Rebekah is just 1 year and the Lord has totally brought me thru the toughest time of my life- her naps (or lack thereof). I decided to nap train her (nights have been amazing from day 1- a fact I repeatedly ignored in my anger b/c I felt I was “due” for good naps, too) at 4 months (really 3 1/2) when I switched from a 3-hour feeding schedule to a 4-hour one. Anyway, I did EVERYTHING you are doing…I threw every book I’d read (Babywise, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child) at the wall in tears and I resented my baby! Seriously- I was angry with her for not doing what she was supposed to do. My family tried to tell em to relax, that R was just different…all sounded like cop-outs to me. My friends never had the consistent struggle I had and their babies slept thru the night the same as mine, so it felt unfair, blah blah blah. So, I would put her down really early so she had plenty of time to cry it out until her next feed. Sometimes she cried for 1 1/2 hours, off and on…the quiet would make me nervous b/c I didn’t know if I could trust it- every tear was like a sign of defeat…every day I woke up anxious, completely unaware that other people didn’t feel this way, that nap duration was not the focal point of their day. If she did take a good nap, I felt triumphant and superior to other moms, if not (which was more often the case than not), I felt like a failure. I also told myself it was for her own good. Anyway, i did this for months!!!! I counted her total hours of sleep and despaired that she wasn’t up the national average…as a believer in Christ, I firmly believe this did not reflect the implications of the gospel…my desire to be in control and my selfish desire to have “my time” definitely outweighed my desire to do what was best for my child. Throuhg great and painful talks with my husband (who is a godly man) and some close friends, one in particular who is a nurse and mother of 5- I began to see that I had found my identity in something other than Christ, which is tragic. Looking back, I feel like I wasted some precious months of my daughter’s life- our whole day was based around naps and we missed out on some really fun opportunities as a result, not to mention cutting myself off from ministry. Somewhere around her 6-month birthday, I lost it. I sobbed as I held her in my arms and just felt despair. I told her it wasn’t her fault, that I just felt broken. My husband skipped work that next morning, realizing something was wrong. It has taken me months- she is 12 1/2 months now- somewhere around 9 or 10 months old, I was able to let go of my expectations and just take what she gave me. I imagine you were hoping for a solution or a great ending, that she naps 3 hours at a time, but that is not true. She is already down to 1 nap and sometimes it is 45 minutes (tho mostly, it is 1 1/2 hrs)!!! You know what, tho? I don’t care! I don’t lose a moment over it. My friends’ older babies sleep more than that, but Rebekah functions very well with what she gets, so I am cool. I still give her time to go back to sleep, but we roll with it. I am learning to prioritize what I need to get done. Also, we started exersaucer time at 4 months, which turned into play pen time at 7-8 months, which I still do. She wasn;t a huge fan, but I started her off in smal increments, 5 min or so at a time, and we have increased it to 45 minutes and she loves it! I set a timer and start a CD and tell her I will get her when the timer goes off. No matter what, I don’t get her until the timer goes off. I also built up leaving the room- I slowly worked my way out of the room until one day I put her in and left, no matter what her reaction was. It takes time and maturity on their part to be cool with this, but that way I am sane in the morning. Like you, I am all or none- I obsess one way or the other, so this was a healthy medium for me. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child really was helpful for me. I feel like the author (Mark Weissbluth)is very reasonable in his parameters for babies’ sleep. However, R never does his exact thing and never will. I guess all that to say, I no longer find my worth in how her naps go. My husband doesn’t correlate my day with how her naps went anymore. I have dealt with my anger and resentment towards my daughter, realizing that such a destructive pattern will continue, be it grades or whatever if I don’t deal with it.

    Thinking about my response and putting myself in your shoes, this is not what I would have wanted to hear. I am sorry for that. I wish I could solve his naps for you. However, just remember, this is a season…naps will go away completely one day…is it really worth staking so much on? I thought so and I feel like I lost a lot.

  2. Okay- so wish I could edit that last one for errors…anyway, I just got back from a run and I was praying for you (don’t I sound super-spiritual? :))and I realized I left out a few things- first, I got your blog from a friend, Jamie in Iowa City (not sure if I should use her last name on a public blog) and she thought you sounded just like me, so she referred your blog to me. Also, I failed to mention that I have been seeing a good counselor and as hard as that is for my pride to admit, I thought you should know. Talking to her is one of the things that enabled me to see what control issues I have. I also struggle with fear but with totally different triggers. Anyway, I kept telling myself that it would get better when Rebekah got older and took better naps. 😉 Anyway, thru a lot of prayer and submission to Christ’s leadership in my everyday life, I am realizing it’s not so simple. However, the older she gets, the more fun she is and the easier it becomes to handle the frustrating times. I pray you have other young mamas around you and that y’all have a consistent play group in which you do not discuss naps! As i think of more, I might keep posting!

  3. Hi again! Thanks for your reply on my blog! I am so glad you saw my heart in that- I was really worried that you would think I was being mean! 😉 I, too, needed someone to tell me it/I/Rebekah/life in general was okay just the way they were. I so dreaded every 45-min mark that you could hardly see Jesus in my life. Honestly- things probably will get better when he’s older and expending more energy…you just can’t base your joy on that. He’s your little guy and is just right the way he is. When, Rebekah wakes up after 45 minutes or whatever, I say to myself (as I feel my blood pressure rising), “My joy is not in long naps, my joy is in Jesus Christ.” For some reason that mantra gets me through and then I can actually laugh about it and praise God for blessing me with such a honey. (BTW, looking at your older blogs, I, too, felt like a horrible mother b/c I wasn’t loving it- isn’t it funny what footholds we give fear and comparison?) Interesting, though, is that when I read your blog, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think it was mine. Every word you said touched my heart at a deep level and I was so proud of you for being brave and vulnerable enough to put it out there…funny, tho, looking at your personality thingie, I don’t think we have other stuff in common…so that kind of makes me think that fear/anxiety can get anybody- it’s not just the way we’re wired, rather it is sin and we can ask the Lord for help in conquering it!

    Please keep in touch!!

  4. HI Jamie –

    Tabitha just started in on 45 minute napping right at the three month mark to the day. Mama Em’s comments were helpful for me to hear. I read all the books, and they make me mad. Mommyhood isn’t a science.

    As I was talking to my best friends back in Texas who both have two boys, I discovered that it is a bit of pride. I feel like good mommies have good and easy babies. While I still think Tabitha is a good and easy baby, who is changing and may not do what I think she should be doing, but still very good and happy. It is still hard not to think I must be doing something wrong if Tabitha isn’t napping or sleeping well. When you have everyone asking you all the time, “is she a good sleeper?” “is she sleeping through the night?”, it makes it hard not to get overly focused on those things.

    I am realizing that Satan is using this very vulnerable time to cause fear and anxiety and pride. Not only do I want to be a good mommy for Tabby’s sake, I want to be a good mommy for my prides sake too. The thing is that my pride and the world have their own opinions and views and that every baby and every mommy is different and that things don’t have to fall right into place all the time and there will certainly be struggles and that’s okay.

    Other than the pride, I have been dealing with fear and anxiety. I read how important good sleep is for babies neurologically, and I see Tabitha getting overtired and unable to wind down for a good nap, and I get worried. I am learning I just need to trust God to help me be the best mommy for Tabitha through each phase and trust Him to teach me to care for her. He too will meet her needs, not just me and her daddy.

    I had no idea what a spiritual battle Mommyhood would be, but it makes sense. It hits you at the very core, because it not only affects yourself, but this little helpless life as well.

    I am finding more and more moms struggling or have struggled with the same things. It’s important to find some good support in mommy friends.

    Take care! ~ Kristy Lindsay

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