My little one refuses to go to bed at night. No, that’s not totally true. My little one refuses to go to bed at night in his bed. He’ll sleep just fine if we’re holding him. He’ll be calm and collected and perfectly reasonable. But as soon as you put him anywhere near his crib he turns into a flailing, rolling, crazed maniac. It’s currently 11:30pm and we’ve been trying to get him to sleep since about 10. I know that sounds late to put a baby to bed but we sleep in late. And generally I’m up late. With my erratic schedule at work (this week for example: off, 10-7, off, 12-9, 10-7, 8-5, 8-5) if we were to put him to bed early (say 8 o’clock), I’d miss most nights with him. So later works better for us.
Why is his bed lava, you ask? Well, dear friend, if you can find the answer to THAT question we will all be millionaires and get to sleep at night. Ok maybe not on the millionaire part but we might actually get to go to sleep at a reasonable hour if we chose. I’ve never been one of those who is on a specific side of the fence when it comes to “Cry It Out” tactics, but I have a hard time with both sides. I HATE letting Baby G lay in bed and cry. I hate it. It hurts my heart and makes me feel like a terrible mother. I feel like I’m abandoning my sweet child who is lying in his bed miserable and alone and terribly upset at being bereft of my presence. I feel like when I finally do go to pick him up he clings to me like I’m a life preserver and I’m saving him from a terrible fate. But at the same time… I also don’t sleep very well sitting upright in a chair. I don’t have a recliner and for whatever reason Baby G doesn’t want to sleep on my chest if I’m laying down. So sometimes, like tonight, I let him cry. I sit downstairs and listen to him crying piteously through the monitor and I feel like my heart is going to leap out of my chest. Some nights we can bounce him or pat him to sleep and that works. Some nights if you put him anywhere near his room, much less his bed, he breaks out into hysterics. I don’t know what makes the difference but I wish I knew what the right thing was.
Sometimes I just feel selfish. Maybe that little tiny boy is scared or doesn’t feel good or is lonely and he just wants to be cuddled. I don’t know. Maybe he’s just being a toad and doesn’t want to go to bed. So what do I do? Do I hold him and let him sleep on me? Do I give up my sleep so he doesn’t cry? It took 10 minutes tonight. 10 minutes of him crying after I had been upstairs for almost 40 minutes rocking him, holding him, and trying to get him to lay down. That 10 minutes felt like 30. We are 10 1/2 months in and I still don’t know what the right thing is. There are lots of people who use the CIO method and swear by it. There are lots of others who deem it a method of torture from the devil which will result in your child becoming a homicidal maniac who will eventually kill you in your sleep. I’m not going to throw stones at either camp. I think both tactics have valid points and have different times when they are effective My biggest concern is what is right for Baby G?
Tonight, anyway, was a combination of cuddling and soothing with a little crying at the end. It makes me want to go upstairs and hug him and give him kisses but I guess that would defeat the fact that he finally fell asleep. So I’ll take myself to bed now and hope he sleeps through the night, and plan to snuggle him in the morning when he wakes up to eat. You know how I love those morning nursings.
Here I am, at 6:30am, nursing my sweet one before I have to work. His little forehead is imprinted with several of his tiny fingers because he insists on laying face down on his hands in the bed. I’d show you a picture but I can’t do that without showing you a little more of myself than I think we are friends for.
So the point is, I love this time. I love this sleepy little baby who cuddles up against me, softly reaching out to touch my face or chest. Whether I’m sitting and eating breakfast like today or cuddled up in bed with him, the morning nursings are some of my favorite. He isn’t trying to look over his shoulder and see what’s going on, he isn’t popping off every few minutes to see who just walked by, and he’s usually very calm and serene. And today he has perfect fingernail impressions in his forehead.
I love that this is time just for the two of us. Our morning nursings are warm and cuddly and sweet. It’s just us and I can forget for a second how big he is getting and that I have to go to work. I can revel in his tiny little body and his sweet little hands and know I am his source of comfort as well as food. I can provide what no one else can and it’s so special to me.
Dear Tiny Person,
You have recently decided that sleeping at night is not necessary. You’re tired – oh so tired – and you rub at your red rimmed and bleary little eyes but you refuse to sleep. We’ve been struggling with sleep for awhile now. We have a routine – bath, nurse, sleep – and you know it. You know when it’s bathtime and you know that milkies come after bath. You have forgotten that bedtime comes after milkies.
Even before you moved up to your crib you had the habit of going to sleep easily but waking up within an hour almost every night. Most nights you were easy to get back down and stayed asleep for 6-7 hours. Then you’d nurse and go back to sleep with me for another hour or two. Once we moved you up to your crib and unswaddled you (as you would wiggle out of the swaddle and then roll over) we’ve had trouble with bedtime. You used to fall asleep nursing, I’d put you in bed, you’d wake up about a hour later and need to be patted or sometimes bounced but the you’d go back to bed for the night. For a few days I could put you down in your crib, pat you a little, and walk away. Several nights you slept through the night without ever requiring us to come comfort you.
Now being put in your crib is akin to torture. You scream and cry and arch your back. You won’t settle and you won’t sleep. I can’t just let you cry. I’ve tried. It hurts my heart and tears at me. It makes me sad and it doesn’t help you. So we pat and sing and bounce and rock and nurse. Sometimes all at once. You need comfort. You need us to be close to you. And I’m ok with that. Yes, it’s frustrating when you won’t sleep. It’s exhausting having to get up multiple times in the middle of the night to comfort you. We’re so lucky to have your Auntie living with us to take some of the nights. You’re a good baby but a bad sleeper. You take short inconsistent naps. You much prefer to do your sleeping on us. I’m sure some people will say that is our fault. That we made that happen. And maybe that’s true. But when you are bereft of your child’s presence for the first 6 weeks of their life you hold on a little tighter. You cuddle a little longer. You indulge your tiny baby who you didn’t get to hold enough at the beginning. You soothe and comfort whenever you can because you weren’t always there to do that. And if your sweet baby wants to sleep on your chest you let them. Because your sweet one went to bed every night without you there to cling to when sleep wouldn’t come.
So we’ll keep doing what we’re doing. We’ll keep to our routine. Instead of getting frustrated we’ll sing and pat and soothe. And when your little head pops up just when we think you are asleep and your face breaks into a big smile when you turn to look at us, well, we’ll cherish every second. Because one day you won’t need us at night. One day you won’t want us to cuddle and kiss you and sing to you. But right now you do. So forgive us if sometimes we sound frustrated. It’s hard not knowing what you want or need. Sometimes we just have to keep guessing, patting, and singing.