Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bedtime Angst

Ok, so I was coming here to vent yesterday but got sidetracked. Probably a good thing because there may have been several four-letter words. See, I decided to try to train Micah, otherwise known as Baby-who-will-only-sleep-on-someone’s (usually Mommy but Daddy will do) chest. They, whoever “they” are, say babies his age should be able to sleep through the night and you can start sleep training once they reach 6 months of age. 

So I’ve been trying to put him down in the crib more. To no avail. But Valentine’s Day night (don’t ask me why I picked that particular night) I decided I was going to try in earnest. I read some in Baby Sleeping for Dummies or whatever the book is called. I did the bedtime routine and decided I would leave the room for five minutes and then come in and comfort him for five minutes. I thought I could keep doing this until I wore him down and he fell asleep. Um, no.

Our baby doesn’t just cry. He howls, he screams, the kid even rolls his R’s when he’s upset. Ken says it’s the worst cry he’s ever heard on a baby. Now he’s no baby expert. I mean, we have 2 kids; we’re not the Duggers or anything. Still. He sounds like he’s totally distressed and it’s really hard to listen to for more than a minute or two. But I kept trying. For awhile. Finally, I had to get some sleep. Long story, short. (Well, sort of.) The harder I try to get him to sleep on his own, the LESS sleep I and everyone get. So yesterday I was exhausted. Plus I was getting a cold. Brilliant idea, I know. That’s where the four-letter words would’ve come in. But I’ve had time to get some distance, so I will spare you.

So what do I read yesterday after this abysmal night's sleep? An article about gentle parenting. Ouch. And then a question.  If you were the baby, what would YOU want? Ouch again. I wouldn’t want to scream hysterically and be ignored, that’s for sure. Even just for five minutes. And the more I read, the more I realized I’m trying to force something that’s not working. Obviously, he’s not ready to go from sleeping on us to being put down alone in a dark room. And the truth is that we all get a reasonable amount of sleep the way we’ve been doing it. The problem comes when I can’t get up even for a couple minutes to do something like go to the bathroom in the middle of the night or get a snack.

Problem is, we want cookie-cutter answers for our parenting dilemmas. Believe me, I’d love to follow this 3-step plan and have my baby sleeping on his own through the night. Somehow I think if I read and research and try hard enough, I will stumble on some magical solution that will work for my kid. But babies are human beings. And human beings are unique. Don’t we tell our kids this all the time? “Be yourself. We’re all different.” So why do I think I can find easy solutions to parenting problems?

My kid *is* unique. There are no formulas. Except maybe to observe your child, evaluate your options, maybe even think outside the box and see what works for your particular situation and child. And then experiment.

So what happened last night? Well, I was way too tired to do anything like sleep training. Ken gave me a couple hours off and he took Micah so I could sleep by myself for 3 hours. Then I took over at midnight. Guess what? Micah didn’t even wake up until after 3 am. So we ended up getting a much better night’s sleep. Happy Happy Mom here. 

Am I ever going to get him sleeping in his own bed? I honestly don’t know at this point. What I do know is that I’m going to try to focus on compassion and kindness in looking for parenting solutions. And I’m going to work with my unique kid and what he needs to find those solutions. No stressing about what I *should* be doing. No formulas. (But if you find one for sleeping through the night, I’d still like to hear it.)

1 comment:

  1. Hope you do find one for the sleeping through the night thing, but how your dilemma speaks to so many others. Regardless our situation, we all want cookie-cutter answers to our problems; but God doesn't use cookie-cutters. Instead God hand shapes. And so God has a hand shaped answer for this, and all our dilemmas -- just sometimes God takes God's time in the shaping :)