Sunday, April 15, 2012

O sleep, O gentle sleep

People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one.  ~Leo J. Burke

When you are a new parent, you spend almost all of your time and energy focused on your child's eating and sleeping habits. In fact, you become so obsessed with it, it becomes completely normal and common to have entire adult conversations about how long your child is sleeping at night or how many ounces of milk your child is consuming.

You have this conversation with your spouse/partner constantly, with other moms all the time, but when you start regaling random Target check-out ladies with the details of your precious child's latest nighttime sleep habits, you know you've officially lost it.

Check-out Lady: "Awww, your baby is so cute!"
You: "Thanks!"
Check-out Lady: "How old is she?"
You: "She's 5 weeks. But, she still is not sleeping very well at night. I'd always heard that bigger babies slept longer earlier, but that is just not that case for her. Although, she did sleep for five hours last night. But, that was the first time she's done that. But, it seems like she's really started getting the nursing thing down. She's getting faster, which means it's quicker between sleep sessions at night. It's really been in the last week or so that she's gone any more than three hours, so I've been pretty zombie-like for most of the time. It's just so great that we can actually get out to Target and talk to another adult! It's amazing what five continuous hours of sleep can do for a new mom, isn't it?"
Check-out Lady: "Um. Ok. Here's your receipt."

Not that that ever happened or anything. Yeah.

Anyway, so, one of the fallacies in this parenting thing is the phrase "sleeping through the night." When your child finally starts consistently sleeping through the night (which for my girls was around 3-4 months), you think you're home free. At least, I did. I figured that was it. The sleepless nights were done. I could get back to being a normal semi-well-rested adult.

I laugh at my own naivete.

See, it turns out, that even though your infant starts sleeping through the night, that doesn't mean your toddler will. Or that your preschooler will. Every stage begins the sleep training and sleepless nights anew.

Currently, we are in the Charlotte-2-year-old-parental-sleep-deprivation stage.

A couple months ago, Charlotte started climbing out of her crib. We would wake up at all times of the night with a crying child in our face begging to be let in bed. Or, we'd wake up and see lights on in the kitchen or living room or Molly's room - wherever she'd decided to go exploring at 2 in the morning. This was around the same time that Molly was creeping out of her toddler bed to sleep on the chaise in our bedroom. (Yes, Molly was still in a toddler bed. My husband is frugal, what can I say.)

All this moving around during the night, started to affect Charlotte during the day. She was so tired from her nocturnal meanderings that she started falling asleep when we went to pick Molly up from preschool at 11:00. And, as any mom knows, a child falling asleep in the car ruins the actual nap time. With a 20-minute "nap" under the belt, Charlotte thought she was raring to go, refused to take her actual nap and was a cranky, whiny mess by 4:30. Ugh.
Car naps, while adorable, wreak havoc with my day.
"A day without a nap is like a cupcake without frosting." ~Terri Guillemets

So, I figured the reason for Charlotte wandering from room to room at night was that she just wanted to sleep near someone. And, I thought maybe we could find something that worked for both girls and gave Cory and I back our bedroom. Maybe a trundle bed would be the perfect solution. Molly could finally have a real big girl bed, and Charlotte could sleep on the bottom trundle if she wanted some company.

Again, I laugh at my own naivete. (There's that saying about God laughing whenever you tell him your plans, but really, I'm pretty sure it is children who are the ones howling with laughter at your carefully thought-out plans.)

But, we proceeded anyway. We bought the bed, Cory spent hours putting it together, and Molly LOVED it!
Molly posing with her new bed.
Showing off the trundle portion. The part that was supposed to entice Charlotte into Molly's room, not ours.
Well, we solved one problem. Molly hasn't come into our room once since we got her the new bed. (Not that I'd been telling Cory for months that she probably wasn't comfortable in her toddler bed and that was the reason for the midnight bed-switching. Nope, I hadn't said that at all.)

But, the Charlotte dilemma has proved much harder to solve. When we got Molly's bed, we also took the front railing off of Charlotte's crib to make it into a toddler bed (and save her from potentially hurting herself climbing out). Since the day we did that, Charlotte has not slept in her bed. Like, at all. Not once. She has insisted on sleeping on the floor. I don't get it. It cannot be comfortable. But, if anyone knows Charlotte, she has a stubborn streak the size of the Rio Grande. And, she will not be deterred when she gets it into her mind to sleep on the floor.

She started out sleeping on the floor in her own room, then some time during the night, she would gather up her blankets and pillow and come lay out a pallet on our bedroom floor. We would wake up in the morning and have to carefully watch where we placed our feet in fear that we would squish her little head.

Again, cute. 
Lately, though, she's gotten more brazen. She's started ending up in our room before we even make it to bed at night. Then, last night, the most brazen step of all. Cory was gone for the evening, and when I went up to bed, I found this little monster snuggled in safe and sound on Cory's pillow on his side of the bed!

Being exhausted from just having a run a PR at a half marathon that morning, I texted Cory to tell him that she was there and that she was his problem when he got home. I crawled in beside her and fell asleep. I know this was probably a really bad parenting choice, but I just didn't have the energy to deal with it. See, the night before that, she'd gotten up four times, including at 4:30am when she'd woken up Molly and they were playing dress-up in Molly's room. The not sleeping thing makes me too tired to effectively deal with the not sleeping thing. It's a total Catch-22.

So, that is where we are in our parenting life now. At a loss and back to obsessively telling everyone about the nighttime sleep habits of my child. I feel I have to constantly apologize for my ever-present Sonic Route 44 drink (caffeine, how I need you), my yawning and the giant black circles under my eyes. I try to explain that Charlotte refuses to sleep during the night and that she doesn't like her bed and that she wants to sleep in our bed and that she wakes up her sister ...

Oh, Target Check-Out Lady, you had better watch out! It looks like I'm headed your way ...

O bed! O bed! delicious bed!
That heaven upon earth to the weary head.
~Thomas Hood, Miss Kilmansegg - Her Dream

1 comment:

  1. You know I completely understand! Somehow Penelope has stayed in her bed until 5:30 since we got home from kansas. That's not to say we've had huge struggles getting her to go to bed at 8:00...the stalling techniques are advanced.

    I completely agree about car naps. When people say "oh, she could nap in the car for a little bit," I look at them like they have 2 heads. Even a 10 minute car nap is total sabotage for the afternoon nap.