Mommy really needs some sleep – one mother’s account of sleepless nights and sleep training fiasco.
Sitting here with three cups of coffee in front of me, having lost all faith in the possibility that my kid will ever sleep, I try to remind myself that the probability of an eighteen-year-old needing his mommy in the middle of the night are slim.
Did you know that a person will most likely suffer severe neurological damage due to prolonged sleep deprivation? It is truly a medical miracle that I am writing this from home and not from a mental institution (although, on the other hand, they let their patients sleep pretty much all day long…. tough choice, my friends, tough choice..). It is now almost two years that we have been in constant pursuit of the sleep that inevitably eludes our family.
My kid has never been a good sleeper. Even before being born, he decided that mommy is pretty just the way she is (30 pounds overweight and all) and she does not need any of that stupid beauty sleep. The trips to the bathroom, the hick-ups, the pains and kicks were, apparently, all a form of sleep training for dear mommy in preparation for the upcoming years.
When Mike was a newborn, his crib was in our bedroom within my arms reach. This fact didn’t help with sleep whatsoever. He happily fell asleep in my arms, but the moment he was carefully transferred to his organic, soft, warm crib – all hell broke lose. There wasn’t a trick under the sun that we didn’t try! The slow transfer. The warm sheets. Warmed up blanket. Pacifier. White noise. No noise. Crying noise from parents. Banging of the parents’ heads against the wall… nothing really helped. It is yet another miracle that I am still married to my husband…. Believe me, there was extensive genealogical research done to establish who slept worse as a child and whose fault it was that our kid just did.not.sleep.
Once, I was delusional enough from lack of sleep that I decided to try co-sleeping. I mean, it looks so peaceful and comfortable on all those pictures and ads. After all, what could be better than hugging your precious baby next to your heart? Let me tell you – ANYTHING is better than that (at least for us). It started off peacefully enough with my little angel snoring adorably next to me in my arms. It went downhill from there. I woke up in cold sweat every 15 minutes believing that I killed my child. Moreover, although my husband slept like a baby child free grownup, after he found me under the bed trying to find an imaginary rolled-off baby, he put an end to the co-sleeping idea once and for all. (Although for full disclosure purposes, Mike does sleep with me when he is sick. The key word being “HE” sleeps, because I sure do not).
After surviving the first six months sleeping in one room, we decided it was time for Mike to sleep like a big boy in his own room. Great idea, we thought! Mommy and Daddy will have some alone time in the evening (hint-hint). Once again, husband slept peacefully all night until he woke up and didn’t find me in bed. He found me on the floor in the nursery, rolled up in a ball. I was afraid that my baby would be lonely without me….. Go figure, no sleep that night either.
At about one year of age, we tried the modified crying it out method. The lack of sleep with a baby that woke up roughly 6-10 times per night (!) was beginning to make me a little bit tired (understatement of the century). Armed with extensive knowledge from books, internet and friends, as well as a bottle of emergency wine, I prepared myself for a “fun” night. I started off with the “staying in the same room” approach. I sat down next to the crib, put down my very sleepy toddler and calmly explained to him that it is time to sleep. “Very funny”, thought my son and started dancing around the crib. I calmly explained that only women of certain questionable professions dance at night and that it is time to sleep. I also took a sip of the emergency wine. Mike still did not find this amusing, and at this point started crying. I, once again, explained to him that it is, indeed, time to sleep…. After 2 (!!) hours, no emergency wine left and a very tired toddler, I gave up, rocked him to sleep and threw the empty bottle at the husband.
There has been more sleep training, begging, bribing and crying down the road. There has also been some nights, when my son only (!) woke up once or twice and I cherish those nights and celebrate them with only one coffee in the morning, instead of three. I also grew to cherish those night when my almost two year old desperately needs me to hug him and reassure him in the middle of the night.
Yes, years of sleep deprivation are fundamentally changing my ideas of a “fun night out” from going out until 4 am to falling asleep and staying asleep at 9 pm. They are also slightly changing my perception of reality and make me a tiny bit neurotic. But you know what? They do say that the chances are slim that my son will need me at night when he is a man grown….. But even then, I will still be there for him in the middle of the night with a reassuring hug, that everything will, in fact, be ok.