Friday, November 23, 2007


We have a nightly routine. After dinner, I go run a bath for Swee'pea, and Sugar D sings a silly song about "Run dee tub, run dee tub, Mama, run dee tub." We both give Swee'pea his bath and wrastle him into pyjamas, then we bring him downstairs, turn on Swee'pea's sleep playlist and Sugar D walks him back and forth to sleep while I go upstairs and read. For a long time this was great. Swee'pea would fall asleep in five to 20 minutes, go down in his crib no problem and sleep at least until we went to bed but usually later. This was also often the only time I would read a book instead of blogs. Maybe one or two days a week it wouldn't work and we'd let Swee'pea stay up later (often once he took a poo he'd relax for sleep), and it was ok. I stayed calm and philosophical knowing that the next evening he'd go down fine.

Now, however, it's not working so well. Now, him falling asleep with a few minutes of walking is the exception rather than the rule, and if he does, most nights he wakes up and demands to come out of the crib before falling back to sleep eventually at least once . I am neither calm nor philosophical about it. Now, when I go upstairs to read, I find myself tensely listening to what's going on downstairs, shoulders up around my ears. If I hear Swee'pea chatting, I know it's not going to end well and I start to have terrible, black thoughts. The worst if it's all quiet and I can only hear a faint whishing of Sugar D's feet on the laminate floor and I start to think that it will be ok, that Swee'pea's going down. Then suddenly Swee'pea will burst forth with some monosyllabic pronouncement, and all will be lost.

I'm kind of surprised with just how black my thoughts can get on these evenings, because in the day I'm mostly pretty happy and enjoying Swee'pea's company. When Swee'pea won't sleep, my thoughts veer towards the near-suicidal, seeking escape from my whole life and finding no way but one. I also get angry, wondering why I got saddled with this non-slash-high-maintenance sleeper. Often, when Sugar D admits defeat, I take it out on him, expecting some magical baby whispering power of him and wishing he were more like Beck's husband who just puts the kids to bed. I don't feel good about myself in these moments and my self-criticism cuts three ways: 1) that I can't get my kid to bed and 2) that I can't handle an extra couple of hours with my son, that I'm so needy and demanding to require two hours without him every day and 3) that I yell at my husband in front of my toddler son. This was not the kind of mother I wanted to be.

My new nephew is three months old and everything he should be at that age: rolly poly goodness and smiles. He also sleeps through the night already and that news, I'm ashamed to admit, pierced me with jealousy. When he was a newborn, I had lots of memories of Swee'pea's newborn days. But the last time I saw him, I couldn't really remember Swee'pea as a three to six-month-old. Those months were the months when I was obsessed with trying to get him to sleep in his basket and later his crib. I was relentless and was sure that if I just did the right thing, he would sleep in a bed without me. I thought it must be my fault, and as a result I ended up missing those gorgeous rolly poly days. He was seven months old before I finally just accepted his sleep habits and put him in the sling so I could at least blog during his naps.

It's been a couple months of regression, I think, not counting that very anomolous and lovely one night. Lately, we've taken to lying down in our bed with Swee'pea to get him to sleep, and that works, mostly. But sometimes it takes hours and our evening is gone anyways by the time he falls asleep. I'm back to thinking that while it may not be my fault, it's my responsibility to find solutions. The only thing I can think of is to get him a big boy bed and baby proof the upstairs so we can lay down with him and the leave him in his bed. But he seems a bit young to me... so I turn to you, dear readers, for ideas. How do you get your high-maintenance sleepers to bed? How old were your kids when you put them in big beds and were there any surpises? I've also wondered about finding or making story books about kids staying in their own bed or learning to fall asleep on their own. Any tips?

* * *

Sorry for my recent blogligence -- blame Harry Potter. I'm still keeping up with most of your blogs, I'm just not commenting. But I'm well into the seventh book so I should be back to good blogizenship soon.


flutter said...

I don't think you need to apologize, love.

Suz said...

Things went very quite when the 7th Harry Potter came out, so I understand.

And...and...I'm sorry about the sleeping. I wish that I had some advice, but all I have are good thoughts coming your way. I'm sorry its so hard.

Mouse said...

I don't have much advice on the sleeping part. Scooter was a bad sleeper for a long time--it usually took 2 hours to get him to sleep and there was no way to just leave him. When he got a little bit older, like 2+, we started leaving him for little bits of time (telling him we needed to get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, etc) and we gradually lengthened our time away. But that was an incredibly long process and I'm not even convinced it's what led to him being able to go to sleep on his own with minimal attention. I think that had more to do with him maturing.

As to the other part, I think it's important to give yourself a pass. Sleep is one of those areas where every kid is totally different and people who tell you what you should do really need to jump off a tall building, preferably into traffic. For me, the whole process was horribly painful and draining and a cause of many tears, but now that I'm removed from it, I can recognize that it wasn't that long in the grand scheme. I know that "there's light at the end of the tunnel" isn't much, but that's what I clung to back then.

slouching mom said...

I don't fault you in the slightest for knowing what you need. And what you need is a couple of hours to yourself at night. That's not unreasonable at all.

What's his nap situation these days? I can't remember. I do know that at first I thought that the end of my kids' naps was the most awful thing ever -- until I realized that without much of a daytime nap, they went down uncomplainingly at seven-thirty pm and slept like rocks all night.

The tradeoff seemed fair to me.

Good luck.

Karen said...

ugh, how awful, I'm so sorry. I have no particular advice for you except about your dark thoughts - don't feel bad, don't feel guilty, your anger is just telling you something about yourself and your life that isn't working - don't take it too seriously (you are not a bad mother!) but take it seriously enough (try a bunch of things until you find one that works.) I'm convinced there is no one right way and so experimentation is the name of the game - you are the mommy and you are allowed to switch up your game at any time if it isn't working. That is your right as the mommy.

Em said...

(((Hugs))) i know about those dark thoughts... Willow didn't sleep through (eg from 11pm to 5am) until she was around 2 and didn't sleep well until she was 3 when i went and saw an osteopath (in desperation) and the osteopath worked miracles and Willow started sleeping 7 to 7. An osteopath is a little alternative but i've heard so many anecdotal stories about how helpful they are with poor sleepers you might want to check it out... (and you can email me if you want more information) at threexthree at gmail dot com.

Em said...

ps your poor sleeper has nothing to do with your mothering... i have two amazing sleepers and one shocking sleeper... it is just the way they are made.


Mimi said...

Ah, Sin. Those black feelings you describe? I had that for months and months and months. Thank you for posting that -- I felt it too, and we can't be the only ones. *You* are not the only one. It's just that after supper, when he should be going to sleep, that's when you hit your limit and you need your day to stop. What's terrifying is the prospect of the day that doesn't end, or that always ends in conflict.

I feel for you. I really do.

As for advice, I'm not sure. We cured our terrible sleeper with some CIO when she was five months old. Now when she has a bad patch, she pretty much runs the show. Mouse's idea sounds good.

Bon said...

i have no solutions for the sleep...we've been fairly lucky with the going to bed since we did some long and hellish crying fests back before his first birthday...but even now, if he's sick or overtired, we can end up doing a lot of walking or standing by the crib or (in my case) contemplating the suicides you mention. and we've got it easy compared to you.

i know that blackness and incapacity to take it for one more second, though. i think of it as a natural part of the fight or flight mechanism - because i know i shouldn't rage and fight (though i do) i sublimate the same urge and every now and then it makes me sure i should just get my ass to the highway and stick out a thumb.

Kyla said...

We did the big bed switch and it has been glorious. I was so worried, because while KayTar is older, she isn't typical of a child her age and I didn't think she would be ready. But she was, and it has been good. We were having some awful sleeping challenges before the switch and it really has made a difference for her. I'm not really sure why, though.

Don't you feel bad about needing time to yourself. I do, too. I've been known to stay up until 2am just to get a little time to myself. It is necessary, just like sleeping and eating. I wear down quickly without it.

b*babbler said...

Oh sweetie. I remember the black moments, all too well. Peanut was horrific at sleeping, although it has gotten easier. That said, when she does have an off night, I end up hating myself because all I want is for HER TO SLEEP.

We did gradual cry-it-out. We found she would scream even with us holding her, so we ended up doing the put her in the crib, picking her up every five minutes (timed) unless she seemed to be winding down, in which case she'd start back up again.

Lately she has started waking up and is fine when we hold her, but screams if we put her down. We realized that it was a manipulation thing, so left her and within 6 minutes (literally) she went back to sleep.

Also, switching to one nap per day helped us immensely.

I hope you find some sleep soon, one way or another. Good luck...

crazymumma said...

I have nothing. I have been through years of sleep hell. It does get better. I promise.

Halfway through book four....

bubandpie said...

Bub was 22 months old when we moved him into his big-boy bed (so Pie could have the crib). I had been so worried about the transition, but it was completely painless. I folded down the quilt to create a visual barrier at the foot of the bed and put up a side-rail, so it really didn't seem much different from a crib.

Pie, on the other hand, is still in a crib. I would kind of like to be able to cuddle up in bed with her like I do with Bub ... but not quite enough to give up the nice, secure knowledge that she can't get out.

bubandpie said...

Also, I am totally dependent on those three child-free hours between 8 and 11. If there is any messing with those (even so much as half an hour of it), I fray very quickly. So I absolutely get it.

nomotherearth said...

I'm with everyone else in that that evening time is sacrosanct. I NEED it like nothing else. I am not a nice person to be around when I don't get it. Don't feel bad about any black thoughts, I've had them too.

No sleeping advice. I'm sorry

Mad Hatter said...

As you know, I have been here and outta here and back here and then maybe otta here again before landing back in hell. And I know those black, black feelings that come when your time and autonomy are so ruthlessly toyed with. Miss M is going through a great patch now but it has been hard won and nothing I did or said got us to this place. She always ruled the sleep roost. And with Len working most evenings, bed time is always my responsibility.

We set up her toddler bed when she was 23 months and she loved it. In fact, we started to turn the corner on all the bad stuff with the toddler bed decision. The bed had a protective side rail but she still managed to roll out a couple of times. We kept a couch cushion by the bed for the better part of a year just in case.

A couple of week's ago we got rid of the toddler bed (which was her crib converted) and got her a double box-spring and mattress. One side is against the wall and the other side has a couple of pillows to act as a barrier. It works like a charm. I get into bed with her to read stories, then rock her for a couple of minutes in the dark before lying her on her bed, kissing her and telling her that I'll be back to check on her in a few minutes. I never come back b/c she's usually asleep by the time I get downstairs. I've also found that when she falls asleep on her own like this, she rarely wakes up during the night.

Having said that, sleep only started getting this easy for us this fall. Still, from about 23 months and the introduction of the toddler bed, the improvement was noticeable. Oh, and almost a year later and she still hasn't gotten out of bed of her own volition. When she wants me, she calls me to come to her. I'm kinda curious to see how long it will take her to realize the mayhem she could cause if she wanted to.

Mad Hatter said...

Guess who woke up twice in the middle of the night and eventually got into bed with us? Serves me right for making brash claims about the good times finally arriving.

DaniGirl said...

FWIW, the one thing that scares me the most about baby #3 is the fact that while I am a good mother and a good person, I am not a good night-time parent. I just don't have my usual coping mechanisms in the dark of night. So do be easy on yourself for those dark thoughts, as others have already said.

We turfed Tristan from his crib at 20 months, and I think it was too early. More bad nighttime parenting memories. Simon stayed in the crib until he was almost 3 and the transition went much better for the whole family. Maybe because he already had Tristan as an example? But having a whole extra year of him confined safely in the crib was a huge relief. The next one stays in the crib until he goes off to school.

I know a lot of people are scandalized by the idea, and it's not for everyone, but CIO worked well with both my boys around age one. It's something to consider, and with Tristan at least, it was a short and successful transition (four or five days for him, a little closer to two weeks for Simon) and in the end the right choice for all of us.

dawn224 said...

Mines only 7 months old - I have a niece like your nephew though - and her mom has all kinds of assvice for me.

Baby sleeps with us, we eat dinner, put him in jammies, lay him down with us. sometimes we have to full on lay down with him and feign sleep. Sometimes he'll fall asleep nursing. Sometimes Scout has to walk and sing the itsy bitsy spider for a long time. If any one thing takes long enough that we're starting to go crazy, we switch. Mostly just to keep us sane (er)

Lisa b said...

I know how you feel.
I swear I almost lost my mind tonight.
It is something about the end of the day. It is more than reasonable for you to want those two hours to yourself.
I'd say yes on the books about him staying in his bed.
As with things like that they work for a while with my girl and then all hell breaks loose again. I don't say that to be discouraging, just that it gets better and better but you do need to keep your perspective and some ideas in reserve. I have not yet had to drive the girl around to get her to sleep at night.
email me if you want to talk deets specific to ages.