It’s been a rough couple of nights (err…weeks) at our house. The sweet and easy baby that we had, oh, just a couple months ago, has disappeared and has been replaced by this much fussier, much more restless little boy who is still a bit of mystery to me. Now, I knew this was coming. How, might you ask? Well, a couple of reasons. For one – and this is one that gets pretty irritating after just a short time – we’ve no shortage of relatives who love to remind us what pains in the ass we were as youngsters. Jonathan didn’t sleep all the way through the night until he was two or three years old. I didn’t “sleep,” per se, but rather laid awake in my bed and pointed out the parts of the human anatomy that I knew (quite loudly, I’m told). Just eyes, nose, cheek, stuff like that – nothing gross, thank you very much. But I have other reasons for having come to expect that one day, the “other shoe would drop.” I’m not sure where that phrase came from, but it’s inadvertently how I tend to live my life. If I feel like life is going a little too well, I sort of expect that there’s some sort of challenge or trial coming up on the horizon. I don’t know where that comes from, but it’s actually served me well in a number of situations, so I don’t mind it too much. And when I saw what a perfectly sweet, easy, sleepy baby I had at the beginning, I knew his “rotten” was just stewing.
Now before you go writing me off as a pessimistic jerk and a bad mom, keep in mind that a) all of this is said only half seriously (because I think we’ve established that I use humor to deal with things in every area of my life), and b) I love my little booger butt, no matter how “rotten” he might be at times. Russ is just getting to the point where he realizes the connection between crying and having mommy or daddy come comfort him or pick him up…and so he cries. All. Day. Long. And. All. Night. Too.
So we’re trying the “cry it out” method, in somewhat of a modified form. I know that’s sort of controversial, but we’re giving it the old college try. We actually had lazily attempted it a few weeks ago, going in to check on Russ every 5-10 minutes for an hour before saying “SCREW this” and just rocking him to sleep. But we’ve noticed his sleep getting progressively more restless in the last few weeks since then, and we just have realized that we’re heading in the entirely wrong direction. And this is true especially when you consider that not two months ago, Russ would go to sleep on his own in the Pack n’ Play or crib, and sleep for 8-9 hours, waking only once to nurse and then falling back to sleep almost immediately. We just need to move back in that direction.
Tonight is Night #1, and I’ll be documenting these efforts for the blog.
For Night #1, I did a few things – only slightly tweaked – that we normally do at night to help Russ get ready for bed. We ate dinner together (chicken enchilada leftovers for us, squash and pears for him) and then I sat him in his crib while I took a quick shower (I’m talking 5-10 minutes here). He got pissed over that, but I figured it was probably best that he went ahead and learned to like his crib and a few minutes in there while mommy got cleaned up wouldn’t hurt him. After that, it was time for his bath, so we filled up his tub and got him out of his clothes and diaper, then washed him with his “Bedtime Bath” and lotioned him up. After that, I cuddled him a bit and let him just chill out in his pack n’ play while I put away clothes. Then, the very last step, I nursed him until he was very drowsy and we took him upstairs to put him down in his crib.
He was NOT happy with this approach. So, at 9 pm, we kicked off the screamfest. We checked on him at least every five minutes, maybe even a little more often – I didn’t pick him up, but I put his pacifier back in his mouth, shushed him, and rubbed his arm or the top of his head to calm him down. Every single time, he’d get quiet and calm. Five seconds after I left the room, all hell would break loose once again. Rinse, lather, repeat. So we did that for 40 minutes before he finally got quiet. At this point, I told Jonathan “He finally gave up! BWAHAHAHAH!!!”
This prompted Jonathan to quote a song by my favorite band, Nine Inch Nails.
“I tried…I gave up!” he said with a laugh.
“Thank God for that,” I trailed off.
“Well, you know what, babe?” he said, hedging into yet another NIN reference, “The only way out is through.”
I’m really glad that we can work a little bit of rock n’ roll referencing into our parenting efforts. I hope our children will one day give us cool points for that, but I have the nagging suspicion they’ll just roll their eyes and go back to staring out of the car windows.
So, Night #1 is behind us (sorta). Bring it on, sleep training. Bring. It. On.