since…well…the other longest night of my life.
We started the “sleep training” (and really, I hate calling it that. Hate it. It makes me sound like I think my child is a circus animal or something and I just hate it.) last night. It was…interesting?
If the definition of interesting is “Run screaming for the nearest bottle of Absolut you can find and shoot it straight with a beer chaser and then clamp a pillow over your head and wonder if you’re going to have your very own poopsplosion from the nerves,” that is. And no, I didn’t actually run for the Absolut…or the beer…or the bathroom. But I did clamp the pillow over my head and choke back some Mom-guilt induced tears.
We changed up Joshua’s bedtime routine just a little bit last night. Instead of giving him his reflux meds after dinner, I gave them to him before. Then Dan fed him and we let him play for a little while in his Jumperoo before giving him his bath. After his bath, we sat in his bedroom floor with the lights dimmed and we read a few books (“Jerry Jordan’s jelly jar…j…J…j” was a particularly laugh-inducing line from the Dr. Seuss ABC book…) and we played with some of the soft blocks that I made and then Dan gave Joshua his bottle.
Let me interject here and say that it’s been a while since we’ve had any trouble getting Joshua down for the night. We’ve done this fuss-yourself-to-sleep business once before when we first put him down for the night. He’s been pretty good about falling asleep on his own at bedtime for at least a couple of months. Developing a solid, consistent nighttime routine and sticking with it, even if we’re not at home, helped immensely with this. We give him his bottle, he drinks it, then we put him in his crib whether he’s wide awake, drowsy, or asleep, and he’s out.
Our problem has been with the middle-of-the-night waking. Joshua wakes up and can’t get himself back to sleep. I know he knows how to do this because he’s done it before, but he’s not consistent about it. And sometimes it takes us up to an hour of going in to his room, soothing him with rocking or bouncing on the exercise ball, feeding him, holding him, whatever it takes, to get him back to sleep. Only to hope that it lasts until 5:30 or so, and most of the time, it doesn’t.
It seems that intervention has been necessary for us for a while and I’ve been too afraid to admit it to myself. I’m afraid I’ll psychologically damage my child by not coming to his rescue when he needs me. But then I think about people I know who are nearing 30 who still have their parents coming to their rescue and I shudder. Literally. And let’s not forget the countless students I see on a daily basis who have to have their parents email their teachers when they’ve forgotten to do something because they can’t ask about an assignment themselves. There’s an entire segment of the population that is so co-dependent they probably can’t tie their own shoes (and that segment might be the people who wear Crocs because they think those shoes are “cool” and are really just trying to cover for the fact that they can’t tie their own shoes…)
Needless to say, I don’t want Joshua to become a kid who can’t deal with some things on his own. But back to last night…
Joshua went down like always and then woke up at 12:45. Dan and I laid there awake listening to Joshua on the monitor while I nervously watched the clock. The fussing started out really low and manageable and by the end of the 20 minutes, it was obvious that Joshua was getting frustrated that no one was coming to rescue him from the Baby-Eating Crib. I went in there and instead of picking him up like I did the last time we did this, I just rubbed his back and patted his butt and then left the room.
He was pissed.
I turned the volume all the way down on the monitor and listened to him yell at me from down the hall. Then I shoved a pillow over my ears and watched the red lights on the monitor and wondered how the hell people do this. But I didn’t give in. Even when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, I didn’t give in. I stayed the course, and I have to say I’m kind of proud of myself for that. I was sweating and my stomach was churning and I hated every minute of it.
At the 20 minute mark, Dan went in and patted/rubbed/soothed him and then came back to the bedroom and at that point, there was no more laying down for him. He went to the office to surf the internet. I think laying in the bed was making him a little stir-crazy. And he can’t stand to lay in the bed if he’s not sleepy. And who can be sleepy when your child is accusing you of being the worst parent in the history of parents? I laid in the bed and waited. And waited. And at about the 10 minute mark, I noticed that the cries were less loud and less urgent. And by 13 minutes, they’d stopped completely.
I tiptoed across the hall into the office and looked at Dan like “Did it work!?!” and he shushed me because apparently I was looking at him too loudly. And we went back to bed. Joshua wasn’t totally asleep. We could hear him chattering to himself for a little bit, which is fine by me. If the kid needs to talk himself back to sleep, I’ve got no problems with that.
Then he didn’t wake up again until 5:45 at which point I fed him and he went right back to sleep until 8:30 with absolutely no fussing. And he was so happy when he got up this morning. So happy.
So, the longest 53 minutes of my life netted Joshua 12 hours of sleep last night, which is more sleep than he’s had at night in maybe his whole life.
I have no idea how tonight is going to go. I’ve heard that the second night is easier and I’ve heard that the second night is more difficult. We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.