Toddler Sleep Problems and Other Tales of Woe

One of my biggest regrets as a parent thus far is not having been an uncaring asshole, spitting in the face of attachment disorder, and saying, "Okay, it is no longer acceptable to wake up hourly. Sorry, kid, but you're going to have to cry it out. How do you like them apples?"

Three years in to nighttime parenting, and I still don't know what I'm doing. Good news: we've moved on from baby sleep problems. Bad news: We now have toddler sleep problems.

In the early days of parenthood I was so confidently sure of my approach to parenting (in the way that only a novice and / or idiot can be). With granola running through my veins, I would parent intentionally and with love. I would attend to my child's every need, teach her that the world is a safe place and her needs would be met. Above all, thought I, she'd never be left to cry.


Well, it turns out that this nonsense parenting is exceedingly difficult to sustain when your child wakes twelve times per night. And requires 1 hour and fifteen minutes of bouncing and pacing and rocking to achieve 20 minutes of sleep. Four times per day. 


(And, guys, I know that I lean hyperbolic, but this right here, this is FACT).


As I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline on the weekend, I saw that Aisha had posted an article about baby sleep. So of course I clicked through it, because duh. Then, as is kind of the way of the Internet, I read through the comments and found myself wanting to poke everyone in the eyeballs.


Sleep is a rage-button issue for me. I bristle when people try to tell me how to make it happen (guess what! tired it! it didn't work!!!) and I snarl when others complain about the slog of nighttime parenting a three-month-old who has the insolence to wake up for two mid-slumber feedings, because OMG YOU DO NOT KNOW EXHAUSTION UNTIL YOU'VE PARENTED MY BABY and btw, do we need to talk about the time she stayed awake for 36 hours??? That one still stings.

Anyway, here were are, so many years later with a nice hearty dose of toddler sleep problems: (nap resistance, bedtime refusal {extreme overtiredness be damned! This kid still won't sleep!!!} nightmare, and a total inability to fall asleep or stay asleep alone.)

(I keep writing about the trails of sleep deprivation. Do you think I have post traumatic stress disorder? Hmmm, what do you think, Dr. internet??)


Anyway, I kind of want to write a coherent post about the ways and means of infant sleep, the guilt and stress, and anti-feminist currents that run through parenting literature and the douche captain doctor who's name rhymes with Mears whom I hold accountable for the massive (and I fear permanent) bags under my eyes. (Thanks kid doctor, for equating crying it out with abandoning my child in a Russian orphanage. I really needed that extra guilt because motherhood doesn't come with enough as is.)


But still, even three years out, coherent thoughts about infant sleep is not something of which I'm capable.


All I can tell you, is that we've trying out my newest scheme in my grand project to secure seven hours of uninterrupted sleep and put an end to our ongoing toddler sleep problems. As such, Stella has a new bed.


She's pretty stoked on the idea, and does not fail to mention to everyone that she has a NEW! BIG! BED! My friend at the cafe? "Stel-wa have new bed! I getting big because!" The waiter at dinner? "Stel-wa have new bed!" Teachers at school? "I have big bed now!" I mean, this is maj! They need to know!



I can also tell you that only yesterday I overheard her screaming at the top of her lungs, "ROCKSTAR! ROCKSTAR ROCKSTAR!" while nestled in the glorious and totally ridiculous luxury that is a full-sized bed for a two-year-old.



Looks comfy, no? (And I can tell you from experience that it is! Because guess who's sleeping in it??!! Me!!!! Every night! Except for last night when Mr. Chef was in charge of toddler sleep problems and I slept solidly for eight hours. I don't even think I moved.) 

(Now that I think about it, maybe delegation of nighttime parenting is the answer??)

Bedtime, you are the scourge of humanity.

Can I just interrupt my regularly scheduled lush-green-vista-wanderlust-adventure-seaking-rice-fields-train-track-type programming to talk for a moment about bedtime. Because, bedtime, sometimes you're a real asshole.


(Also, let's just employ a little bit of cognitive dissonance here and disregard the great destruction and loss that just occurred here in Jakarta and pretend that my nightly woes are significant, okay?)


I always have these grand ideas about what I'll do with that luxurious time after my kid's in bed and the evening stretches out, unblemished and pure. I'll drink wine! I'll read a book! Maybe take a bath! Or paint my toenails.


And then bedtime comes and all of the light goes right out of me.


For the uninitiated, here's a typical evening in the EpB household:


Brush teeth, read stories, sing a song and into bed. It's 7:30.


My child lays her head on the pillow, for exactly seven seconds. Then this: Sing songs. Request cuddles. Change positions a million times. Hold hands. Cuddle. No cuddle. Blankie. No blankie. Sing more songs. Ramble incoherently. Demand that I pat-pat-pat her bottom. Sit up, start talking about friends, requiring  to know the exact location of every person with whom she's ever made acquaintance. Mama, where's Nannie? Mama, where's Abio? Mama, where's teacher? 


"Stella, it's sleeping time. No talking." 


Thirty seconds silence. Then, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle, Twinkle, *reaches over and beeps my nose* and then it's "Wheels on the Bus". 


"Stella. GO TO SLEEP!"


One minute silence.


 "Merry Cripmas, Olivia. Merry Cripmas Ian, Merry Cripmas William, Merry Cripmas Julian, etc etc etc).


(Repeat for a hour).


Then, I lose my mind, storm out of the room, and my child produces some serious murder screams.



I come back because I'm a soft, lily-livered human.


I lie down next to my banshee, and eventually I fall asleep. Then she pokes me in the eyes. "WAKE UP, MAMA."


This goes on for all of eternity. 


Exhausted or rested, quiet time or crazy-baby time, early bedtime or late bedtime, it's a two-hour-bedtime. Every time.


All of which is to say, I have no idea what I'm doing. I don't know how to make my kid go to bed within a reasonable time frame. She's always been like this, from the time she was about two weeks old. 


Still, I take solace in two things: One, I no longer have to do this four times a day (three naps plus bedtime =how did I ever survive infancy?) And two, when I text my husband that a particularly terrible bedtime can only be endured with a bottle of whiskey, he takes me seriously. 



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Up and Down the Coast On Very Little Sleep

With the Christmas season fast approaching, talk of holidays and beaches and voyages afar is the currency of the expat wife. Where are you going for the holidays, everyone asks? 


Well, nowhere, because my husband is working. 


But alas, my nomadic heart is growing weary of standing still. In a country this amazing, this diverse, I'll not let an opportunity to explore pass me by. Stella has a few weeks off school. So, off we go!



So, after Christmas, Stella and I are heading out on an adventure. We'll be traveling up the coast to Central Java. We'll go by train because in my imagination I'm still a 22 year-old backpacker. And also because my kid is a die heard trainspotter. 


Looks safe, no?


Our itinerary is a work in progress (where the "work" has not actually taken place yet), but I'm thinking of heading to wards Tegal, exploring some beaches, and perhaps the hot springs of Guci, before perhaps moving on to the highlands of the Dieng Plateau, and back to Jakarta via Bandung. 



You may think that such an adventurous journey might be slightly daunting with a two-year-old as a travel companion (though the two-year-old in question is actually quite the champion voyager), and yeah, I am a bit nervous about the upcoming trip, but not for the reasons that you'd suspect.


I'm not worried about traveling by train. Not Missed connections. Not dragging a toddler through unfamiliar train stations in strange cities. Five hours and toilets of questionable functionality don't deter me. Nor does dengue. Or malaria. Or bird flu (don't worry, Mr. Chef, Tegal is famous for lamb sate. No joke.) I'm sure that there will be moments of stress, times when one (or both) of us will be in tears. But these moments will pass quickly. Tears can be dried. Most travel problems can righted with a bit of time and some creativity. 


What I am worried about is sleep. 


My kid needs to sleep in a bed. Her bed. Not mine. At specific hours of the day and night. Quietly. In darkness. Just so. And if you disturb her pattern, miss her bedtime by even five minutes, watch out. No one will be sleeping. Like ever. (PS remember that one time when she stayed awake for 36 hours straight???).


Typically she needs a baby containment device like this one in order to get any sort of decent sleep. And that wouldn't be a problem were we staying in a fancy hotel. But we're not. Remember, I'm a 22-year-old backpacker and I want ADVENTURE!! (and cheap lodging).


I anticipate that in the absence of a hotel provided crib, we'll be doing some bed-sharing, which is something that we both love (in theory). But it doesn't actually work. There's very little sleep when se share a bed. Rather a whole lot of PLAY! Hide! Hold hands! Talk! (Not sleep. Ever.)


The last time we went on a holiday that required bed-sharing a certain little person would refuse to sleep before about 10 PM and then be up and ready for the beach sometime before the crack of dawn. Oy. 


Also, our resident baby whisperer (Mr. Chef) will not be along for the ride. (tears!)


(I know this is a problem that can be solved by shopping online for baby products. Do they make baby ear plugs? I know there are portable baby black out blinds. So. Maybe that's a good investment.)


So, yeah. I'm a bit nervous about this trip. I'm apprehensive of sleep deprivation, extreme crankiness, and exhaustion headaches. I'd take a missed train connection over 5 sleepless nights. Any day.


Apropos of nothing (except for sleep, I guess) is this not the coolest product ever???


PS, if you have any Central Java travel tips (sleep related or otherwise) I'd love to hear them!


This post was sponsored by Baby Luvre. All content, opinions, and overuse of parenthesis are mine, and mine alone.




323 / 366 {bed}

The Chef and I do not use alarm clocks. They'd be totally superfluous considering our child is ALWAYS awake by six AM. 

Monday morning, eight AM, Mr. Chef late for work, Stella Bella late for school, and she was still snoozing. In her own room. On the floor. 

Hallelujah! Angles! And Stuff!!

It should also be noted that Stella had taken down all of her toys and her blanket so she wouldn't be lonely on the floor.

And, then, last night, Mr. Chef found our girl lying on the floor in front of her bookshelf. Miles away from bed. I dunno. I guess it just seemed right.


309 / 366 {big girl}

Two things of note here: 

1. OMG LOOK WHO IS SLEEPING IN A BIG GIRL BED IN HER OWN ROOM. She only took an hour and a half to fall asleep, which is kind of, basically, just like normal! And she only fell out once!

Okay, she did join us at around 3:30, but other than that, a totally uneventful night.


2. I took this picture in almost complete darkness on a tripod made of storage bins. 

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Bedtime: hands down the worst part of my day since 2010. #NaBloPoMo

Mr. Chef went out to a wedding this evening. Our girl knew that it was his night for bedtime, and as such, demonstrated her great displeasure at the injustice of being put to bed by her mother on a Sunday night. She gave it her everything, and because staying awake is her superpower, she managed to still be awake by the time her father got home. So, he did bedtime after all. Oy.


Looks like you win, kid. 


I would also like to point out that we tired no naps for two days, and then suffered greatly for that folly.


It's NaBloPoMo and I just had a hella long evening waging a loosing battle against wakefulness and so this is all you get. You're welcome. My pleasure. Come again.


If you've embarked on a NaBloPoMo quest, let me know in the comments ! I'd love to stop by for a visit. 

Sleepless in Jakarta and A Furious Case of Rage-shopping

How long has it been since I've posted about my child's inability, or perhaps more aptly, unwillingness, to sleep? Months. 

And while we are miles away from the terrifyingly sleep-deprived doom days that was her infancy and early todlderhood (if you're my kid has an uncommon ability to stay awake for ever, yet still be super tired. She and I were both miserable exhausted zombie monsters for about 1.5 years. There was one time on a trans-continental flight where she stayed awake for 36 hours straight and omg hot poker in the eye.)  


True, we're vastly more rested than we used to be. I quite regularly get to sleep through the night. But nap times and bed times: oy. Pain.

 Oh look. My kid is in bed. Not sleepig. What a surprise.

Bedtime takes two hours. From fighting the great teeth-brushing war of 2012, to the great battle to diaper my kid's bottom and stuff her limbs into her pyjamas, the wind-up to lights out is about as enjoyable as a three-hour exam with a raging hangover. Then we need to spend a good hour arduously negotiating the exact conditions that are required to lie down in bed:  lights on; blanket off; one more drink;  pee-pee time; blanket on; music please; crying; blanket off; ooops, poopy diaper; blanket on; crying crying crying; etc etc etc etc until spleen, resentment, and vexation weigh heavily upon us both.


Typically I end the night cursing bedtime and wondering how something that is meant to be so peaceful can make me feel like murder. By the time it's all over and done with, it's 9 o'clock, the kitchen is a disaster, there are toys everywhere, and my grandly laid plans to DO EVERYTHING ON THE LIST are dashed and therefore FURRY!!!>>>!11!!


So, I do what is only reasonable under these circumstances: I turn on my computer and rage-shop. For children's clothing and nursery accessories. Because apparently I'm a masochist. Heeeeyyyyyy, kid, you've caused me great pain and annoyance, eaten up my whole evening, and so I'm going to let out my frustration  by buying you presents! 


I think that an excellent example of healthy coping mechanisms.


So, yeah. That's exactly how I ended my evening on Wednesday night. 9:30, exhausted, frustrated, and full of murderface. So then I went here because LOOK! Bobo Choses! Kidscase! Shampoodle! And they ship internationally! And look! This adorable dress is on sale. And so is this! Oh and look at this! Oh Emmmm Shopping Basket!


So, in the interest of salvaging my bank balance, I've decided to stop nap time. And see if that helps me take back the night, and put an end to rageshopping. Because I'm hella tired, and rage shopping. Oy. I just want to watch a show in a moderatly tidy livingroom and go to bed by 10. Is that too much to ask, world? IS IT???


In the interest of full disclosure, this post was written on behalf of I found myself on their website because I was asked to write a post, but I filled my basket because their stuff is awesome. And when you live perpetual summer, summer sale items at like, 50% off are pretty appealing.

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Small Style, Christmas Style

As is evidenced by this post, I'm obviously taking a blog vacation. I promised myself a week off between Chrissy and New Year. Buuuuuuuttt, it's Small Style day. And I just can't stay away. I'm like the cat who came back, you know.

ANYWAY, I may be here in body, but not in mind. So don't expect any great things from me, okay?

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, or a great December 25th. As for us, it was quiet, but a nice kind of quiet, and as Christmassy as things can get here in Japan. I mean we had a tree! That in and of itself is a major coup.

Here's out Christmas recap (in photos because words are hard and stuff.)

On CE morning, I randomly found a full size roaster chicken at the super market. The first time in 2.3 years that I have seen such a thing. Another major coup. Obvs I was waaaaaaayyyyy more excited about this fact than Stella. But I roasted up that bad boy and Miss and I ate it ourselves. A Christmas dinner for two. I also made Christmas eve crafts. Because who am I?

And then Stella woke up in the middle of the night for two hours and wanted to play our new favourite game called "wild rumpus time" and Mr. Chef was still not home from work and thus I was left with an excitable baby and no super baby sleep ninja powers. But we won't talk about that. It's Christmas, you guys. 

A quiet breakfast of pastries and strawberries followed. Which are seasonal in December in Japan. Prolly the best thing ever.


Stella really cleaned up presents wise, and had more parcels than she knew what to do with. She didn't really get the whole opening gifts thing, and was like "Wut? I just got this awesome truck. Imma no put it down and open something else. No." So, we still had presents to open several days after Christmas. Which, surprisingly for presents obsessed yours truly, was nice.




We spent Christmas day quietly at home, and then had a Christmas afternoon cookie fest and a chilly walk in the park with friends. And it was lovely.


The end.

Stella Wore:

Everything = Tea Collection. Because I am oh so creative.

(We also have a hair situation going on right now, but I'll leave that for next week)




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Sleep Again. {SOC Sunday}

Here's my latest entry for Stream Of Consciousness Sunday. This five minute brain dump, as hosted by Fadra at All.Things.Fadra, offers a place to lay down your troubles without worrying about form and style and typos (as if I really worry about those). And my troubles are, surprise surprise, sleep. 

Why don't you join in, too?




Some day I'll write about things that have noting to do with baby sleep. Or toddler sleep. Or kid sleep. Or my own lack of sleep.


That day is not today.


We're back in Japan, after a rather eventful flight, and we're fighting sleep battles full force.


Last night I went to bed at 7:30. Mr. Chef stayed up and put Stella to bed. When she was sound asleep, he headed out for the evening, only to return at 1:30 am, and catch us up, siting in bed, snacking on cheese and crackers, and watching Modern Family together. I couldn't face fighting my kid to go back to sleep, so I just made the most of her wakefulness.


Mr. Chef put her to bed, and within five minutes she was out.


Had I been on sleep duty, the crying and screaming and carrying on  would have lasted hours.


Today, at nap time, I lulled Stella to sleep, pulling out all the tricks. Nursing her and holding her hand. She woke as I left the room. Again, Mr. Chef came in and saved the day. He snuggled S for a moment, then laid her down in her bed, and it was lights out in moments.


Tomorrow, I face nap time alone. Mr. Chef is back to work. I fear this with all my being.


Now, tell me why my kid sleeps for everyone under the sun except for me?


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And So, Everything Is Terrible Again.

You guys, the sleep demons are back and things are bonkers bad. I know I promised you deep thoughts on the culture of parenting today, but all I've got is deep swigs on a glass of port. That's about the best I can manage. You'll understand.

My kid has quit sleeping. Again. All I can surmise is that we're in the thick of the 18-month sleep regression. Which is sub-awesome, because we're going back to Japan this week. The sub-awesomeness of this situation is further compounded by the fact that my mother is staying in America. And she is the only person who can get my kid to be unconscious.

It's currently midnight. My kid has been up for an hour and a half. She won't sleep. My mum has just taken the reigns of this runaway sleep pony and is wrestling it into submission. I might also mention here that a similar turn of events took place last night somewhere around the 3:30 AM mark. Oh, and like every naptime and four out of five bedtimes for the past week. Because I am completely incapable of getting my child to sleep, and have proven that I can be outwitted by a 17-month old.

So, let's review where we stand, shall we?

18-month sleep regression + jet lag + no more baby whisperer = A catastrophic trifecta of terrible. 

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

(please someone come over here and punch me in the face.)

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Previously On Not Sleeping Through The Night

Alright, people, the story of getting baby S to sleep is a long and painful one. My obsession with sleep troubles started long ago, somewhere around the 10 day mark when it became apparent that Stella was not a sleeper. But we’re not flashing back that far, and I certainly won’t revisit the fact that she used to wake up MORE THAN 12 times per night, and at one point would wake screaming like a banshee every 20 minutes between the hours of 7 PM and midnight.*

(*see how I just threw that little chestnut in there so that you’d be fully cognizant of the fact that I’ve been through the wars, thereby justifying my foray into sleep training, assuaging my hippy guilt while also demonstrating my extreme patience and general saintliness?)

No, no, this little recap will only highlight where we were before we started sleep training. So, let’s revisit where we were about three weeks ago: 


Previously, On Sleeping Through The Night: (dramatic music here)


  • Stella was a part-time bed-sharer, part-time pack-n-play master-bedroom roommate. 
  • She woke up between 4 and 6 times per night to nurse
  • She was awake for long periods of time, particularly after 3 AM. Which meant so was I. And this was sub-ideal. A lot
  • She cried and cried and cried before falling asleep, no matter what I did

So. Basically, our sleeping situation was sub-idea. And we decided that finally, it was really really really time to get serious on sleep’s ass and make it happen. Although I was ambivalent about sleep training (to say the least), and was sad to put an end to co-sleeping, it was apparent that Stella thought of our bed as a playground and not as a sleeping place. So, bye-bye co sleeping. But before I get ahead of myself, I’ll outline what we did on PEZM (Project Ending Zombie Moms):


Stage 1 - Git In YER BED!


  • I set up a cot in Stella’s room, and determined that she would sleep in her own bed, so help me Easter Bunny, no matter what. 
  • And she did. And it was no biggie. Turns out, she slept waaaaayyyyy better in her own bed.


Stage Two - Night Night Milkies 


  • I night weened. In one night. Bandaid --> riiiiiiiiiiiiiiipp
  • Mr. Chef took over nighttime parenting duties, sleeping in Stella’s room all night and I bed-shared with a my earplugs. And slept for eight hours in a row for the first time in about two years. Oh my
  • Stella work up 11 times the first night, but didn’t cry once
  • Night two it was down to 4 times. Still no tears
  • By night four, there were two wakeups. Still tear free
  • Then we did a little experiment wherein I took over nighttime duties, and it was an all out scream-a-thon, so me and my earplugs went back to our own room. 
  • Mr. Chef continued to be the baby whisperer, and Stella continues NOT TO CRY while he’s around.


Stage Three - Pending

  1. Stella is now Sleeping from about 7 PM until 3 or 4 AM ALONE! IN HER OWN BED! 
  2. She’s WAKING UP ONLY ONCE!!!!!
  3. Mr. Chef continues to sleep in her room from about 3 or 4 am until she’s up in the morning, somewhere around 6:30, but in the next few days, he’s going to start transitioning to sleeping full-time in our room. 


So. Stella is sleeping much better. The transition was not NEARLY as painful as I had thought. I’m routinely getting stretches of 6 hours of sleep. I can stay up till 11 and not feel like I have malaria. I can do things! And play babies for a long time! Basically, it’s a win-win-win situation: I sleep so soundly, I don’t even her Stella wake up (win!) Stella still gets to wake in the night the way she likes to (win!), and Mr. Chef gets to spend extra time with his daughter(WIIIIIIIIINN!) See? Win-win-win! (Right, Mr. Chef???? RIGHT??? You love this arrangement, RIGHT?)


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(More) Not Sleeping Through The Night

Because you're dying to hear more about my travails in sleeplessness (it is a topic of infinite interest, after all, and I do write about being tired with such eloquence and nuance), I thought I'd just stop on over on a Sunday night and let you know what is happening in the Expatria, Baby household. We are still not sleeping through the night. But...there is more sleeping than there used to be:

  • Night 1 Stella woke up 11 times
  • Night 2 Stella woke up 3 times
  • There were no tears (except at bedtime). There are always tears at bedtime
  • I slept for 8 hours straight
  • Mr. Chef did not
  • Mr. Chef slept in the baby room
  • I did not
  • I am really effing lucky
  • I heart earplugs. A lot. 
  • Mr. Chef is the baby whisperer. I will hire him out, but he costs many, many dollars. Well, yen. Since the dollar is currently a piss-poor excuse for currency

You are welcome. You may now return to your regularly scheduled Sunday. 

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