Okay, before I go into the latest thing we're trying, I need to properly express our sleeping arrrangements for the past 21 months.
Well, in short, hit or miss. James has never slept through the night, but he used to sleep for a few hours at a time in his own bed. At about 9 months, all hell broke loose and from that time until he was almost a year, I could never ever put him down when he was sleeping. It sucked. We went back to swaddling, started the brushing protocol, and then I could put him down sometimes for a few hours. It takes about an hour to rock him to sleep, feed him, and get him put down on a normal and good night. Our methods have varied over the past 10 months or so, and we now have a pretty good nighttime routine that works 55% of the time. When James wakes up crying, you have to understand that it is not whiney crying, or sniffling, or talking. He wakes up with bloodcurdling screams and cries. It's sort of like spending my evenings in a haunted house waiting for someone to jump out at me and, well, scream. I go through phases where I can't even fall asleep at night until he wakes up crying and ends up flaked out across my stomach (honestly, sometimes it's like I'm still pregnant).
So. I've tried everything, I've taken criticism and swallowed it, I've cried, I've thought about driving out my driveway...alone (but only briefly and maybe we'll call it fantasizing...). I started researching Melatonin, oddly enough from something our friend and wonderful doggie vet was talking about. The first research I did was not vey supportive until I started googling Melatonin with Sensory Processing Disorder. Bingo. It's everywhere and seemingly the results are positive. Certainly nothing negative in very low doses. In fact, some studies have shown that sensory kids and children with autism may not produce enough melatonin in their brains, therefore using some as a supplement could be beneficial. I was very very wary, because I don't like to medicate, and I'm so not into any side effects. But I got the dosage from our pediatrician, went to the healthfood store, and gave it a whirl. I can say the the very fact that I am trying this means that I truly can't take it anymore. I've been at the end of my rope for a really, really, .....really long time. I'm basically hanging on floss, which is surprisingly strong. Anyway, I gave him 1/2 of even what the doctor recommended just to try it and all I can say is that he's been sleeping in his own bed for the past 1 1/2 hours and I haven't put him down in over a week (sometimes I just go to bed with him cause I'm tired and I'm not mentally up for the yelling). We'll see how it works...I try to keep low expectations, and obviously he still has to wake up and eat, but some quiet and anxiety free evening would be pretty amazing!
But I sort of post all this cause I read so much online of random people criticizing others for trying melatonin as a sleep aid. BTW, it helps to normalize sleep patterns. Look, I'm sure it could be misused, but evidently if you give your child too much, it just makes them hyper, so who would do that? And obviously you should consult your doctor and it shouldn't be used for kids misbehaving...only for serious issues. My point is that you don't know what sort of things another person is going through and not all sleep problems are solved by rice cereal and shutting the door on kids crying. Going three months with no sleep with an infant is tough, but not in the grand scheme of things. And I know there are parents that go years and years with kids with disabilities and don't sleep. Well, I fall in the middle and I know it will get better someday, but it's not gettin better yet and it's hard. So if I can safely find a little bit of help, I'll take it and enjoy it!