I am writing you to get some advice on toddler behavior.
I am a 3rd year medical student, mom to an almost 3 year old little boy and currently pregnant with baby number 2. I have been struggling lately with my son's behavior. I used to have a sweet, smart and energetic little boy. Since he has been out of his crib and potty trained, my husband and I have had a tantrum monster on our hands. We have what we call a "spirited child," with a very strong personality and stubbornness beyond anything I have seen in other toddlers.
We put him down to bed around 8pm every night after the usual bed time routine and he usually takes anywhere from 1 to 2 hours to actually fall asleep. It's a combination of "I want different pjs/I need more water/I want daddy/I want a new blanket/ I want the light to be blue/ It's not dark out yet/ I don't want to sleep / I need to pee" but the list is endless. My husband and I try to be firm, we have tried to let him cry it out but he cries even louder so we inevitably comply with his requests so he can sleep. Even worse, he wakes up 2-4 times per night with similar complaints, throws tantrums where he arches his back, cries hysterically but won't tell us what is wrong. As a result I am getting increasingly frustrated and exhausted.
Today must have been the worst of all days yet when after 4 overnight wake ups and very little sleep overall, my son woke up at 5:30 whining, rubbing his eyes, yawing and saying that he does not want to sleep anymore. I found myself yelling and screaming, which is unusual for me and ended up breaking down in tears since I had only gotten about 5 hours of sleep myself.
Being very pregnant at this point, I am anticipating some sleep deprivation once our new baby arrives but I feel like I cannot deal with my son anymore. I cannot imagine how this situation is going to work out when I have two kids in the house who wake up multiple times per night.
Worst of all, I feel like I am failing as a mother. I am having a hard time enjoying time with my son during the day when nights are so painful and feel guilty about it. I can deal with daytime tantrums but the nights are draining my energy.
Do other moms or pediatricians have experienced similar situations and have tips on how to deal with toddlers? Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.