Friday, October 5, 2012

Sleeping Through the Night... Please?

I'm crazy for my daughter.  To me, she is the perfect baby.  She is so sweet and happy, and is mostly a joy to care for throughout the day.

Our one problem, my only complaint, is that she isn't sleeping through the night yet.  Nevermind that only 16% of babies regularly do at this age, I've also read the foolproof techniques of more experienced mothers, and numerous books and articles that assure me that my child is fully capable of sleeping a full night if only she had a parent that would do it right.  What 'it' is... well, there are numerous different theories.

It's so much easier when she does it on her own.  No complicated questions to ask when my brain is running at half capacity, just both of us waking up fresh and rejuvenated-who cares where we were slept?  For the last two nights I've enjoyed the luxury of being woken in the night only once, and to find her back asleep by the time I reached the nursery door.  Tonight, though, was different.  I laid in my warm bed and listened, hoping the plaintive cries would subside into sleep.  Instead, they grew shriller and more insistent, so I launched out of bed and did my zombie stumble through the cold hall into the toasty nursery. There was an empty bottle and a full diaper to be tackled, and the parenting advice began replaying in my head.  Don't turn on the light- how do you change a dirty diaper in the dark? Don't make eye contact.  I filled the bottle in the dark, then did the diaper/clothing change as quickly as I could to get the lights off again, then Little Miss was put back to sleep.  I was barely tucked in my own bed when the cries resumed.  Too much eye contact!  I took too long getting fresh jammies on her!

  Back in the nursery, I refill the bottle and settle her back in the crib.  I only make it halfway down the hall this time.  The crying starts again, and with it, the internal dialogue.  If I take her to my bed, we can both sleep in.  But what about friends who have warned from experience never to do that? I've read the books on 'the family bed'- it's natural and many societies keep kids in the bed for years.  But Dr. Laura firmly advises to kick that kid into their nursery to preserve your marriage.  Still, how good can my marriage be when I'm sleep-deprived and grumpy?  And she is only 8 months old.  So tiny and all she wants is to snuggle up in a warm bed with her Mommy.  If my little darling is best able to sleep when comforted by the proximity to give Daddy a series of kicks, or to reach out and yank a fist full of Mommy's hair, then who am I to banish her to a little caged bed all on her own?   

  I've halfway talked myself into bringing her to bed for the night when I see flashbacks of a particularly chilling episode of Super Nanny.  Two little girls, about 5 and 7, in and out of bed for hours with various demands late into the night.  I don't want to spoil her, if I take her to bed now I teach her she can have whatever she wants.  I'll just do like in Super Nanny- put her in the crib and then stand here by the door until she falls asleep.  I put her down gently with her bottle, and go to a place by the door where she can still see me, not making eye contact or any conversation. This is great, she is finally going to learn to sleep through the night.  I'll just slip out here when she is asleep.  She climbs up and stands, holding the railing like a tiny, pitiful prisoner, then begins crying.  No problem, minor set back. She's probably just testing me.  I'll put her down, she'll drift off and I can go back to sleep.  She's back standing and wailing within seconds and my resolve to stay up all night 'training' her is gone.  I scoop her up and head to my bedroom in a blaze of defiance.  I tuck her up next to her Dad with swift movements, just daring him to say anything.  She kicks and begins commencing with hair pulling and babbling.  Then I notice rays of light working their way through tightly closed blinds- "What time is it?"

"7:30. I'm late for work."

Turns out she did sleep through the night.