Friday, August 27, 2010


I'm waving the white flag, crying "uncle," they sunk my battleship.

There's a reason that sleep deprivation is a form of torture. If the twins wanted any government secrets from me, I would now be prepared to turn. If only it were that easy! But all they want is the comfort of nursing all. night. long.

And that's what they get.

They have been waking five times per night for a relatively brief taste of the milky goodness, plus one more 4:45 am-ish waking where they request the pleasure of our company for an early morning party for 30-60 minutes before they will return to sleep.

So throughout the night, the longest I get to sleep is about 90 minutes.

Since having Bean, I've slowly adjusted my ability to operate on choppy sleep; if I can get 2.5 hours at a time, I actually feel pretty normal. (Well, post-baby normal, which as any mother knows is a completely different standard.)

But this -- this completely unacceptable and unsustainable pattern -- has been going on too long now. Weeks. Months? I have lost track. When I get up in the morning, I am bawling as I hand a baby to one of my parents in complete exhaustion.

I can't go on. I can't be a mother -- I can't be a human -- like this anymore.

I don't really know what to do. I have posted on my mothering boards, pleading for advice. I've gotten some good tips and some great sympathy. But sadly, we remain locked in place.

At first I wondered if they were truly hungry. Because of course I want them to have milk, I couldn't live with myself if they were starving. But at this point, I think they just lack the ability to put themselves to sleep. They cry for my comfort, they latch, they suck until letdown, a few more sucks, and zzzzzzzzzzz. Then we have to burp that first baby, make sure he is asleep enough to transfer into the crib, and wake the second baby for the same ritual.

Bean was the same way when he was a tiny tot. But the difference between having one sleepless infant and two is like the difference between a deep paper cut and a bullet wound. Sure, one is annoying and painful, but the other you aren't sure if you'll survive. I have actually spent some time when I'm nursing them trying to think of ways I could put myself in a coma without dying to get a good month or two of blissful unconsciousness.

Poor DH is suffering too. He isn't awake quite as much as I am because he doesn't do the actual breastfeeding part, but he is disturbed way too frequently as well. Then he gets up at the butt crack of dawn for work and has to be productive. Plus he hates that I'm so upset, he gets protective of me that way. You know it's bad when I woke up recently to three of my beloved maple bars on the kitchen counter with a note:

At this point, I'm really at a loss as to what to do. Like I said, I've tried a lot and failed a lot. I'm feeling like a totally craptastic mother at this point. Yes, I realize having twins is ridiculously hard no matter who you are unless you are Angelina Jolie, who seems to find raising multiples as effortless as tripping over a rock. But we are approaching 5 months, and many other twin moms I've talked to have pulled themselves together better than I have by this point. I seem to be the lone idiot who cannot get the twins on any sort of coordinated sleeping schedule. During the day, it's a free-for-all. I am dead serious, the other day they literally operated on opposite schedules. Within 30 seconds of one going down for a nap, the other woke up. All day, not even a 5-minute break with both babies down. We absolutely could not believe they had the skill to do that. I guess it's true that twins can communicate telepathically. Sometimes for good, and other times, for evil.

Earlier this week we decided to load them up with formula before bed, which after reading my previous post you know was hard for me. But we were desperate for sleep and hoped this would allow us some recovery because they wouldn't be hungry as quickly. It seemed to help at first, we got a single 3-hour stretch out of them. Hooray! The next night we did the same thing. This time? Nope. Back to 2 hours. In fact, I think it was even less than that.


I am not a fan of cry-it-out, but we've reached a critical point here. It may be time. The other option is spending $250+ to chat with a sleep consultant for a couple of hours, there were some recommended on a recent thread at

Step one: Figure out how to make twins sleep.

Step two: Call myself a "sleep consultant" so I can charge the same rate as a lawyer but not need any sort of education.

And now, to rescue this post from any further whining, here are some pictures!

A blessed junxtaposition to my state of mind, Bean has somehow managed to become even happier, sweeter, and cuter.

He helped Bumpa wash his car. I swear he has more focus and a longer attention span than I do.

He and his friend Em get their creative groove on.

Building garages for his cars with Grandma is one of his favorite activities. This kid is definitely a boy!

"Again with the crying?"

"Oh stop, Bumpa, you're just too hilarious!"

Both twins are showing signs that they are ready for solid food.

Bean does not have the monopoly on cuteness in our household.

Gax absolutely adores the exersaucer, it's the only way we get 15 minutes without holding him. The way he launches himself around in there is hysterical. Here is the best way I could capture it with a still camera:

My Mom has now ventured into both babywearing and co-sleeping. She's only lived in Seattle for a few months and she's already a hippy.

Evey has mastered the "if you ignore them, they'll stop bothering you" method of dealing with our annoying behavior. Ride 'em Elmo!

Nix thinks that this wrap purchase was completely reasonable and an excellent deal, considering I bought it used.

ETA: I posted this last night before bed, went upstairs and nursed them, and they promptly slept 4 solid hours. Trying to make me look bad. Punks.



Kristina P. said...

OH, Sunny, I am so sorry. I was going to say maybe it was time to stop breastfeeding as much, but it sounds like it's more of a hunger issue, regardless of where it's coming from.

Considering I have .00 children, I have no suggestions.

Hang in there!

Stef said...

I hate commenting on this stuff since I don't have twins and I feel totally stupid giving you "advice".
But I am going offer you some major sympathy! I've been there with 2 of my kids (each born at different times of course) and both of them were my girls. Ethan was a sleeping CHAMP! but Rachel and Kara brought us back to reality the day they were born.
Kara still doesn't sleep through the night, but I must sa, its easier to be a little more firm once they're almost 2 years old ;-) I have a very hard time letting my babies cry it out. I'm just not a fan.
However, Jason and I have had to take time with both of them to help them sleep train. It worked with Rachel... it has not worked with Kara. She's getting bigger (almost 23 months) and so she's beginning to sleep much better these days, but she's almost TWO!
I never thought it would take this long.

Are your boys getting good sleep during the day? My pediatrician once reminded me that a baby who sleeps well during the day, will sleep better at night.
If Kara skips her nap, we know we're in big trouble that night.
The other good tip we got was when you do sleep train, the first time they cry, Mommy goes in, gives the paci, says good night and leaves. The second time (and all the times thereafter) Daddy goes in and NOT Mommy.
I do have friends that do the cry out method and they say, though its hard and painful for a day or so, its totally worth it.

I'm so sorry for YOU though! I don't do well on little to no sleep. Can I bring you guys dinner this week to help ease the work load? I'd be more than happy to bring a casserole by when I come pick up the Moby!

Stef said...

Oh! I have to say, the note with the maple bar... your husband is amazing. I love that. I love when even though they get woken up and have a shorter night as well - I love when they show their love and sympathy for the work we moms do. What a good man.

kmina said...

I was thinking of you yesterday, when I spent a couple of hours feeding a dozing baby, and I was sending you tons of sympathy for having to deal with two of them.

I totally understand you on the formula matter, but sometimes you have to make a pact with the devil to cross a bridge.

I have no assvice for you, I got the baby without the instruction manual and am completely clueless. In the afternoons/evenings, I am on open B&B, he nibbles and naps for hours. The moment I put him in his crib, he cries our ears off. When I pick him up again, he gratefully spits up on me. But at night, he is so good and gives me even 2hs respite - I do not know by what miracle, but I am so grateful and take whatever I can get. If I can identify the secret, I will bottle it and send it to you. But don't hold your breath.

Meanwhile, I am sending you tons of sympathy, hugs and good sleeping vibes for the twins (at the same time, boys, your mummy needs a simultaneous act from you).

Jessica said...

This may very well be considered assvice, but have you considered talking to a lactation consultant? I'm in the Seattle area and am exclusively breastfeeding my twins. I had a heck of a time getting my preemies to the breast and developing my supply (obviously those aren't your problems), but I ended up working with an LC who came to my house and had excellent practical advice for breastfeeding twins. I think very highly of her and she may have some advice on dealing with the all night comfort nursing thing. I truly feel for you, and hope that it gets better soon. If you want to contact the LC, google 'Renee Beebe second nine months,' or email me for more info. She will talk with you on the phone and you can get an idea if she can help you or not. Good luck!

MrsSpock said...

I know jack squat about successful BF, or having twins, but I know sleep deprivation. That is why we are hiring a night nurse for the new baby. Don't know if it's in your budget, but around here, I've been pricing them at 12-25/hr for a shift from 11pm-7am. We plan on hiring one 4 nights a week. Maybe even a couple nights good sleep could help. Most of the agencies I've contacted have a lot of experience with helping parents of multiples.

Coffeegrljp said...

Maple bars? Your husband loves you!!! What a sweetie.

Also, while it sounds like there's still a cost, maybe it's not $250....
Ann Keppler, a nurse and lactation specialist who helped write "Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn". She also facilitates some group called First Weeks and Next Months. It's a drop-in group for moms with babies and it's kind of an open discussion thing where most of the questions, (no surprise) revolve around sleeping and feeding. She also does consults and it sounds like this might be just over $100? When we hit the 4 month mark and Peanut was awake close to 6-8 times each night, sometimes for 2 hours at a time, I thought I might lose my mind and nearly got a consult. I don't even remember what changed, and I never did get the consult, but I've been to First Weeks and seen Ann in person. She comes across as a great and compassionate listener with lots of experience. Might be another option for you....

Alyssa G said...

I don't believe for a second other twin moms have it under control at 5 months. I have ONE baby and I don't have it under control yet. I think those women either lie, or they lie. Like that super smart kid in class who NEVER had to study? Yea right.

Also, you have to stop comparing yourself. Other women do not have YOUR kids, their kids may be completely different children. I too was wondering about daytime sleep, but get what you can. This too WILL pass. Sleep is not created in the stomach, it is in the brain. It is a development just like crawling and you can't force either one, you can just make conditions good for practice.

Denise said...

I think our twins were getting up once per night by 5 months, but I was no longer breastfeeding. Our pediatrician insisted sleeping through the night has nothing to do with Solids versus milk, that babies just sleep more when they are ready, but I'm not entirely convinced. I have heard that formula takes longer to digest, which explains the theory that they'll sleep longer.

I hated hearing the twins cry and it was one of the hardest things we've done, but letting them cry worked for us. At least eventually. Every kid is different of course and what works for one, may not work for another.

I know none of this is at all helpful and I'm sorry I can't offer you an immediate solution. I think consulting an LC is a good idea though and might at least be worth a try. I feel for you and hope that things get better SOON!

Jingle said...

best wishes.

Jingle said...

pick three,
share with 1 to 10 friends.
Happy Saturday!

The M word said...

hugs lady! I know other strictly bfing moms of twins who give their little ones 1 bottle of formula before they go to bed at night and get a few more hours of sleep, I know you don't want to go that route, but, 1 bottle of formula a night really wont hurt them and may help you. I know I would be going wacko right now if I wasn't getting my zzzzss.

Lavender Luz said...

Kids -- even babies! -- are so good at making us eat our words.

I like step 2.

I'm sorry you're being tortured. Our 9 y/o has just begun having night anxiety, waking up every 2 hours or so. It IS torture. I completely sympathize with you.


Michele said...

twins are so not easy, but it will get better. Ours turn a year old in two weeks, and although it took a little time to get into a routine, we couldnt be happier.

You'll get there; I promise.

Sarah said...

I am just loving those pictures! Your family is so cute!!! Maple bars, wow!!! If only my husband thought anything I did with these kiddos (moving by myself with a newborn and toddler included) was hard...grrr!!! Can I just tell you how much I think you are a fantastic mama?! I know you're not a fan of the "cry-it-out" method, but it may where you are at now. Just remember, they are NOT starving...they just know how to push your buttons. They are merely protesting not being with you. Reward them with lots of cuddles during the day. At bedtime, turn on the white noise machine, put in the earplugs, or go for a walk until they put themselves to sleep. (I know, easier said than done). You know what is best for them and what is best is that they get the sleep they need, can learn to put themselves to sleep, and that their parents are in a safe, well rested state of mind! After a week or so, you should be in a better place. At five months babies usually start to develop their sense of time too so you may be positioned to put them on a clock based sleep schedule for their naps etc. I say, bite the bullet and let them cry! You ALL need it!!! Love you!!! (You can send eye daggers to me if you need to, especially because I am no mama of twins saying all this!!!)

Mary said...

First off, LOVE LOVE LOVE the pictures, they really are the highlight of my week. . . Second big big big hugs!! My vote is to run to the nearest store and pick up the Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child book. Of my twinnies I only had one bad sleeper and it really did help. I couldn't bear the full CIO but we used a modified version with Livi and it really did help. You aren't doing CIO for your convenience but because they NEED to sleep in order to grow and its a skill that you have to teach them. How is their daytime sleep, b/c the better you can get that the better nights will be. . . you can do this and it WILL get better!!!! Email me if you are too tired to read HSHHC and I can give you a quick synopsis ;)

Red said...

I remember the torture of one baby who couldn't self settle, I cannot imagine the toture of two. I know formula seemed to help a little bit, but I'd say if your first instincts are that it is a self settling issue, you'd be right. In the book 'no cry sleep solution' (our saviour with Champ) they recomend a way to slowly wean the child from sleeping on the breast. I am sure it is much harder with twins, but the rewards when they can self settle are so great. Good luck and I hope you find your solution soon.

lisawitt said...

oh girl, like many others have said, i dont have twins so i cannot even imagine how much worse that would be....but mark was a terrible sleeper till about 6 months too. we finally had to sleep train and did the modified know, coming in at intervals and then further and further apart. For Mark, it took about a week. He is now a sleeping champ and a good day time napper too, but it took some consistency and ear plugs or out in the back yard. I hated hearing him cry. And if you read on my blog, Zach just went through this crazy waking in the middle of the night last week. I swear it was worse than newborn crying cause he was actually screaming "mommy"! I finally was at my wits end, and even with him, I truly let him cry it out....for over an hour. The next night (after a WEEK of waking up), he slept all night. They are creatures of habit and sometimes we have to help them create the good habits. They need their sleep as much as we do!
But, if you dont like that either, I think other's suggestion of talking with a LC could help too.
Either way, I am sending you TONS of hugs and sympathy because I think I would be mad by now! Hang in there...this too will pass!!!

Aisha said...

Aw man. I'm in the same shoes in a small way. In the sense that little guy keeps waking up around the clock, regardless of day or night, but I have one not two. . . so yours is way more stressful. Still- I can relate and its so frustrating. I ALSO just tried formula two nights ago for the same reason. I was all emotional giving it feeling guilty, but Nothing he still only slept for two hours before he was up and bawling. I don't get it. I wish I could figure out the solution too. I have no real advice since I am struggling myself, but I did pump out some milk the other day so that K could take him on a weekend night. Sunny- it was last night and it was mind blowing. I felt myself slowly deterioating to a babbling stressed out frazzled woman and just four hours of consecutive uninterrupted sleep makes me feel like a new person. So that may be an option for ou? If you don't have a pump you could give formula to DH to give?

Hang in there- ilf you need to do the cry it out approach, you have to do what ou have to do. You are a great mom and if you have to do some thing to help yourself be sane and get some shut eye its okay, you should do it.

strongblonde said...

omg. mine are 11 months and STILL don't sleep through the night. when you figure it out will you drop me a line?? :(

hang in there. you're doing a great job!!!


MissMVK said...

OMG. I started crying reading your post. Because we are so tired and we HAVE HELP. And we still can barely function. And twins are so freaking hard. And this age, OMG this AGE! Too early for toys to really distract them and yet cannot sit up yet and WANT TO BE HELD ALL THE TIME.

The crying jags at the end of the day when we are the most tired are the worst. I am sending you tons of hugs in commiseration. TWINS! OMG! TWINS. They are so challenging...

PS - This is the most I have written in a month.

Courtney said...

Oh, Sunny! Despite not having twins, I know what you're describing. Especially the starting the morning bawling because you just haven't had the sleep. If I go 3 nights without decent enough sleep to reach dream cycle properly, I'm ready to just throw myself on the ground and bawl while snapping at anyone that gets near me.
Having said that, and having 4 kids that have made it to and past toddlerdom (except for the 4th who is still two), I am going to say something that is probably going to get rocks thrown at me. Propping is not the devil everybody makes it out to be. Especially if baby is just looking to suck to get back to sleep. Two ounces of pre-pumped in a bottle propped up... *bam* the kid is out. But, if you're going to be more stressed out by the propping, don't do it. I just know what worked for me and mine. I'm not any sort of physician or nutritionist or such. Just sharing my experience.
Also, if you do prop, choose your propping blankie wisely. I used my fave Tinkerbell throw... and still haven't gotten it back nearly two years later. She sleeps with it every night and takes it on every car ride. ;)
I'm so glad you got a solid 4 hours from them last night. Better sleep tonight, hun.

Jen said...

That sounds absolutely horrible. Even when Jillian woke a few nights a week I could share the pain with Jeramy because she was formula fed. And there was only one of her.

I suspect your diagnosis is right about the boys not being able to put themselves asleep especially since they aren't eating a lot at night. I think Hayden is a good sleeper because she is a thumb sucker and that comforts her to sleep.

Are they both waking together? Is it just one at a time? Is one a bigger offender than the other? I get why you were waking the second up to feed when one would wake up when they were smaller, but do you have to do that now. Would the second one keep on sleeping for a longer period of time. I'm wondering if waking them up to feed is teaching them that they should always do that during the night.

Those are my only thoughts. I hope you figure this out, because that pretty much sounds like hell to me.

Jen said...

One other thought. Are they still in your room? I move my babies out early because I can't sleep through their noises. The monitor only picks them up when they are louder so I don't get Hayden out of bed too soon and she fusses some but then falls back to sleep. Of course it probably sounds like a horrible idea to venture down the hall every 90 minutes each night, but maybe worth a try on a night when you feel up to it.

Pufferfish said...

Ai ya. My first thought was "poor Sunny". Second thought was "Yum, maple bars."

OK, are you still reading my blog? Because we went through most of this just a couple of months ago.

I remember you saying you didn't want to tandem feed them, but I don't remember you saying why? May I ask why? Because that will add up to hours of your day that you are now feeding one by one. Just a thought.

Another thought--we struggled mightily with sleeping and waited until they were 5 months old (and I was ready to jump off a cliff) until we started sleep training. It sounds like you may be headed in the same direction. We tried a lot of methods, but in the end CIO is what works--in fact it seems to be THE method that works best with twins. I don't know why, but I know that in retrospect I wish we had done it sooner.

It really does sound like they are (a) conditioned to not go to sleep without noshing (b) conditioned to nosh through the day and night (c) do not know how to put themselves to sleep.

I also found that they sleep longer when I give them a big bottle of EMB after they bath before bed (7oz) and then a dreamfeed at 10pm of either EBM or formula. We did find the Emfamil "RestFull" worked really well, where some other formula didn't seem to make a difference.

Last thing--if I sleep in the living room and Chicken sleeps in the bed, the boys seem to sleep longer. I hear every sound and figure they must be hungry whereas she ignores it unless it's gone into full blown hunger crying. Turns out they are THAT hungry and we all get more sleep. It's a great system.

Oh, one more thing. It DOES get better. We were in sleep hell just 2 months ago and I know that seems like an eternity, but now one of them slept for 11 hours and the other for 9 hours just this week. I NEVER thought it was possible!

I hope some of this helps and there are a lot of posts I wrote on this very same thing.
Good Luck Sunny, honey!

Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings said...

Oh, Sunny, I am so sorry. Sleep dep is SO miserable. I was there, two years ago, with my girls (at 4-5 months old). I will link to some posts from that time below, since I know misery loves company (don't read them if you want something uplifting though!!!).

We tried all sorts of things, and just kept changing things up until they stuck (part of it was just the girls getting older, I'm sure -- somewhere around 6 months old things got better, and better still from 7-9 months or so).

I worked on getting daytime naps going before tackling nighttime sleep. Sleep begets sleep, was my motto, and during the day I KNEW that they weren't ravenous since they had JUST been fed. I would nurse them down every 2-3 hours or so, would transfer them to their beds and if they woke would then check and console (while fixing my toddlers lunch, etc) until they hopefully fell asleep. It was ROUGH and not what I wanted, but it eventually worked and sleep (and a daytime schedule) improved.

At night I would nurse them for wake ups every few hours (sometimes more often, ugh), but also had Lonnie start taking some bedtimes/early nighttime shifts and would have them "cry with comfort" (in one of our arms, or next to us, but not nursing). Eventually, they learned to go to sleep without nursing (I still nursed to sleep sometimes, they just didn't need it EVERY time). The wakeups didn't go away completely (ha!) but gradually, gradually decreased, and once I was getting just a bit more sleep I could handle them

Here are some of my angsty sleep posts. It DOES GET BETTER! I PROMISE!!!!

Chad and Gena said...

Super cute photos, super sweet husband :-)

I am so sorry you are having such a rough time but I know every twin mom has felt the same way as you do at one point or another. I think many others have already said this but I too would agree to focus on day sleep and a good schedule. I went back to last Sept (when my twins were 5 months) and found a post I made on our blog about finally getting the twins on a schedule and this it what it looked like:

730-800 wake/feed
930 nap #1
11 wake/feed
12 solids (fruit or veggie)
100 nurse then nap #2
230 wake/feed
330 feed (yes they eat all time LOL)
400 nap #3
5 wake/solids (oatmeal)
630 bath/feed
700 bed

I do remember having a really rough week w/Evan when I was trying to establish the schedule and he cried a lot and I cried a lot and we did do some CIO but what getting them on a schedule did for me and for them was well worth it. I will say that I don't personally have any issues w/CIO. I agree it isn't easy but I don't agree that any kind of damage is done to children from learning to self soothe. The great news is that they now are so great at putting themselves to sleep and have been for a very long time now. YOUR life will change when you get them on a schedule. Having well rested babies will help their night sleep too. I know the pain of having one wake just as the other falls asleep, those were always the hardest days. DH works long hours and we are a military family and I have no support or help, so I was on my own from the beginning. Maybe that is why I was more willing to CIO. But when I look back and I see the benefit from it, I would do it all over again even if I had help.
I would recommend HSHHC to you but I know you already read it because you are the one who introduced me to the book :-) just heed his advice and you will get there :-). I know some mom's would wake their kids to keep them "on schedule" I never did that, I just adjusted their schedule based on when they woke up. But one thing I did do was set a wake up time...and if they woke early I let them play in their cribs until it was time to get up. I would wake them if the other was awake to keep them on the same schedule during the day but I used our schedule as a guideline but was flexible w/the times based off when they woke from their previous sleep.

I also always bottle fed at bed time. They always seemed so hungry at bed time and I was so depleted by then so I would pump after they went to bed and supplemented w/formula as needed to get them a full 9oz bottle at bed time.

One thing I just want to add is you are in a really tough time but it is about to get so much better for you...don't be so hard on yourself. I think you are such a trooper and a wonderful mother for hanging in as long as you have...I don't think I could do it.

E said...

I did ask my mom about how she got twins to sleep in cribs and for how long and she said that I would sleep for 8 hours straight. It was my brother who always wanted to wake up and eat. So..I guess you are getting a double whammy with two who don't want to sleep.

Have you tried giving some rice or oatmeal cereal by spoon? they should be ready to try that and maybe that would help "fill" them up??

Nicky said...

Ugh, I'm so sorry! I remember when LL was right around 4-5 months old, I spent several mornings sobbing to S about how LL was violating the sleep deprivation statutes of the Geneva Convention. And that was with just one kiddo!

I know that you're fairly drowning in sleep advice right now, so I hate to pile on more, but just in case it helps, here goes. LL also liked to snack in the middle of the night for comfort. In reality, though, he would settle for lots of types of comfort. It's just that, when he saw me, he immediately thought, "Oh yes, breasts! A snack sounds great!" So, we had S respond at night for a while, keeping me out of sight. S would go in without me and attempt to soothe LL back to sleep, with no offer of food. If it didn't work after a relatively short period of time, I would go to feed him. After just a few nights of that, LL started only calling for us when he really was hungry -- 1-2 times per night instead of 4-5. HUGE difference.

Jamie said...


It is ridiculously hard.

They have to learn to self-soothe. And it sucks. But it's the only way you'll survive.

Do they take pacis? What about some type of object? We have Ambajam mini-cuddles that all of my kids have loved.

What finally worked for us was timed crying. They've slept through the night since 7 months and my sanity is starting to return - slowly.

Also, starting solids seemed to help too.


WiseGuy said...

Okay, I know I say it again and again, but still the pictures are super cute!

And I loved your hubby's gesture.

Unfortunately I suck in my ability to give any productive advice, but maybe you could really hire out Ms. Jolie as a nanny?

Your mom is amazing...the way she is helping you out, she is almost Indian in her behaviour.

Hope the situation eases out soon...