A very nice woman, who, in her own words, could almost be my twin (hi Australia!), asked me very politely what my progress is with my so-called sleepless child. And how my loosely adapted Ferber method attempts to teach her to sleep through the night is coming along.
Well. I guess I might as well start here and now.
It’s been over a month. I succeeded and failed with regular occurrance.
She does not sleep through the night. In fact, teething molars has been keeping her (and me, and DH, and the dog) up and it has not been fun.
(The 3yo seems to be sleeping just fine.)
Which is why my current response to Australia’s question is this:
Sleep is overrated.
Now. Perhaps failure is a bad choice of words. I’m not failing the baby by giving her attention, nor is she failing me (even though it feels like it at times), but the truth of the matter is that when I’m too tired to even take a nap (yes, this is a phenomenon that exists, believe me), then I feel like a failure.
Let me say this. My 13 month old baby has no trouble going to sleep. She likes her crib. She loves to nap. She nurses contently just before heading into her crib and naps blissfully without a peep the entire time.
She sleeps the same way at night up to about midnight.
It’s the five hours between midnight and morning(ish) that is causing her/me all the grief.
Why does she wake so many times? Why does she scream so loud? Why does she throw herself around the crib to the point of hitting her head? Why is she rattling the bars so hard the screws need re-screwing in? Why does she feel the pain so intently between midnight and five, but not during the rest of the day??
Some nights I just give up and turn on the night light, grab her favorite book, and sit up in bed with her reading it. At 2 flippin’ a.m. in the flippin’ morning.
Some nights I try to keep her in her crib and let her cry it out more than I usually do simply because I’m too tired to do otherwise, but when her violent behaviour starts, I have to intervene.
I can just see the eyerolls of the Ferber-believers.
But I am not made that way where I can sit back and listen through the closed door how the infant expresses her dismay at her situation for hours on end. I can’t just watch while she causes herself damage to her little blond skull.
Like last night. She had been chewing her fingers and displayed bright red cheeks all evening long. Given how the previous few nights had been, oh, what shall we call it, pure bliss (not) I gave her some pain relief. She went down without fuss. Curled up in her tummy position all warm and cuddly and cute and quiet.
11:45 she wakes. Starts screaming. Starts banging herself against the crib to let me know that hey, it’s time for me to take her out and give her some attention already. She continues. On and on. Finally I check the list on the meds to see if she’s due another dose, get her out, give her the drops, change her soaking wet diaper, and she starts smiling and giggling and jumping around on mommy’s bed.
I snuggle back into bed with her, try to spoon her against me which she sometimes likes, she indicates that she prefers to nurse, I hesitate but give in because I’M TIRED FROM NOT SLEEPING LAST NIGHT AND THE NIGHT BEFORE AND THE NIGHT BEFORE THAT, and hope she’ll drop off.
She screamed, kicked, cried, carried on for two hours. DH, in the room downstairs with earplugs in no doubt, comes up and takes her for a bit. She squirms around a bit, stops crying for a few minutes (this IS a new situation after all, daddy’s up here hanging out now? cool…) starts talking about “meh” (milk) and “booh” (books, let’s read books), he shushes her, she starts crying, screaming, blah.
Finally, at 1:55 am I go to the fridge, get her a bottle of COLD milk, give it to her while she’s still in DH’s arms, and she slows down. Halfway through the bottle he puts her in her crib, she goes to sleep. Just like that.
For 40 minutes. At which point she wakes up, stands up, and cries. I manage to get her back down without picking her up (happy now, Dr. Ferber?), she goes back down to sleep.
For 30 minutes. Wash, lather, rinse, repeat.
Till 5 am. Then she’s up for the day.
And this concludes my report on sleep. For now. Because naptime seems to be over and I hear a little squeeky voice calling me…