I planned to write this at my “break” tonight. Every other night I get 20-30 minutes free from 7:30 – 8 pm when G puts O to bed. We both look forward to that time alone on our alternating nights so we can read a few pages of Entertainment Weekly (her) or watch a few minutes of Jeopardy (me). While this may sound sad to you, it’s a welcomed and rare moment of peace for us and we’ll take whatever we can get in whatever form it takes.
Whoever DOESN’T put O to bed is on baby duty. Putting S down around 6:30 is usually no problem but the REAL work comes in on the back end. Our nights suck. For weeks (seemingly months), she’s been getting up once a night for 1.5-2 hours at a time. Sometimes she wakes in full-party mode, waving hands and blowing raspberries in the dark. Other nights she wakes up fussy, chugging 8 oz bottles before falling asleep-jerking awake-crying and fitting…repeat. Some nights it starts at 10:30 pm, just as we’re hitting REM cycle. Other nights it’s 3 or 4 am, hours spent rocking, soothing, pleading and praying for relief before it ends just in time for the alarm to go off for work. Even when she does stay technically asleep, we’re still popping up and out of bed over and over to find a hidden/thrown binky and plugging her back in. It’s maddening and I can see how people use this as a form of human torture.
Night after night, this takes a toll until you simply CAN-NOT. Finally, following an embarrassing, exhaustion-fueled breakdown by yours truly, G and I decided the only way for us to function (and survive) was to take alternating nights where one person is on book-end baby duty and the other person gets O + the golden ticket of 8 hours sleep in the spare bedroom. Now, that doesn’t always happen seamlessly but it’s sure as hell an improvement. The prospect of pulling a half-nighter seems bearable and ultimately doable when you’ve a) actually slept the night before and b) know that sleep awaits the following evening.
We know this can’t go on forever and so tonight we’re trying some new sleep tactics for Miss S – not feeding her too close to bed (so she doesn’t associate food+sleep) and working on putting her down awake and helping her learn to soothe herself. Now, she admittedly has a lot going on – currently cutting tooth #7, dealing with a cold, developmental milestones (she is big into testing out new motor skills and gets very vocal and excitable) and possible growing pains. She is also fond of sleeping on her side, but not so good at staying there, so frustration ensues. She’ll likely walk before she figures out how to roll over but that might be residual from her early hip dysplasia (more on that later).
So we are desperately trying new things because we realize that between the many no-nos of pumping her with food and bottles right before bed, rocking her until she passes out and giving up any attempt to get her back into her bed during those mid-night horror shows so that we may see one minute of peace – we’ve made sure this poor baby has zero coping and self-soothing skills. It’s not like this is our first rodeo – just our first one with a crappy sleeper.
Tonight: Take 1 – Try new system. Normal bed routine for Miss S takes 1.5 hours instead of 20 minutes. Attempts to sooth, pat and shush in her bed ultimately fail before I finally pick the poor thing up, give her a drink and rock to sleep (after 5 tries, she was so worked up from it all). Instead of getting better, this night has already gotten much worse. But – new things take time and besides it’s my night and I can do it, so help me, I’m gonna do it.
Take 2: Even though that process took three times longer and I still fully expect to wake up and go through it all at some unknown point tonight, the hours tensely ticking by like Russian Roulette, I still feel hopeful.
Take 3: Until, that is, I come down and O decides to turn his otherwise nice and quiet evening into a no-holes-barred disastrous battle of wills that ended with me carrying him, laughing manically and pants-less, to bed (long story).
The next 30 minutes go like this:
- Clash over teeth-brushing and potty routine
- Threaten eternal loss of Paw Patrol should his fit wake his sister
- Promises to “turn it around” (from both parts)
- Tearful cuddles (from both parts)
That fight finally subsided and in the process, I said goodbye to my one “break” tonight because as everyone knows, preschoolers are just fun-sized sociopaths but that’s a thought for another day.