For the past two weeks, Max has been on a sleep strike. Just in time for me to come down with a serious sinus infection- complete with sinus pain and swollen glands all over one side of my face- and start a nursing assistant course. My husband, wonderful man that he is, was kind enough to make sure I got full nights of sleep (9 pm to 6 am) the end of last week and through the weekend. The goal was to fight off the infection as much as possible before my class started last monday. So while I slept, he was awake trying to keep baby as comfortable as possible, feeding every 4 hours, giving massages, etc. Then when morning came I would take over and he would sleep until noon.
It was not at all an ideal situation. The child literally slept for 2 hours at night and 2 hours during the day. And this became common for nearly two weeks. Four hours out of 24! Now luckily my mother was generous enough to come and stay with us for a few days during my first week of class – we couldn’t have handled it without her! But seriously! 4 hours in 24? How can a baby survive on that? I have heard that kids with epilepsy don’t sleep well. I’ve been told that babies with neurological damage have a hard time getting days and nights straight. And it makes sense that his cerebral palsy and spacticity would make it hard for him to relax and fall asleep. But even with our holding, rocking, and massage he wasn’t able to sleep more than 4 hours!
While reading for my CNA class, I came upon a table listing the average sleep requirements according to age. Infants one month to one year were said to require 12 to 14 hours a day. Even if he only slept a few hours at a time, my husband I should be able to get some good sleep if he was sleeping 12-14 hours a day. But my major concern is not myself. I can hire a nurse, or call one of the grandmothers or another friend if I’m really in a desperate state. My primary concern is Max. How is this affecting his development? his brain growth?
The main reason babies require so much sleep is because they are doing so much development. Their brains are growing a lot and they are learning a ton of new skills. Of course they’re exhausted! Max isn’t learning many new skills, so maybe he doesn’t need quite as much sleep as other babies his age. But I’m concerned about his brain growth. Is his lack of sleep inhibiting his brain growth, or is his brain not growing so he doesn’t feel the need to sleep? And that thought makes me more curious: is he too exhausted to learn any new skills? is his lack of sleep actually hindering his development?
As of now I’m putting off talking to the doctor about it. I usually avoid the doctor at all costs – we have so many appointments to juggle I can hardly find time for unscheduled visits (and most of the time when I go it end’s up being something they can do nothing about). I guess I will have to talk to the doctor about it at the next visit, but for now I’m just looking forward to the overnight nurse starting next week!