Sunday, October 4, 2009

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream


Once again it has been much longer than I ever intended since I last wrote. If only this were the only element of my life being neglected! But, as I type, I can feel the dust from the computer desk accumulating on the palms of my hands and my kitchen floor is so filthy, I won’t walk on it in my bare feet. And I will walk ANYWHERE in my bare feet.

The reason for all this neglect and abandon is simple: no sleep. Oh, I know. You’ve heard it all before. We people with kids think we have the market cornered when it comes to sleep deprivation. The truth is, many of you out there (and by you, I mean all 7 of my readers) might not be getting any sleep either. And it might have absolutely nothing to do with a restless, clingy baby. Maybe you are worried about an assignment or presentation, or maybe you share a street with one of those annoying yappy dogs that won’t shut up all night. And if that’s the case, I’m not going to try to make you feel bad for me. At least I have something cute to look at when I’m up at 3 A.M.

Then again, not getting enough sleep sucks, no matter how chubby and lavender-scented the reason. My bleary eyes ache, I'm forgetful, and have gained about five pounds due to the sugar fixes I need to get me through my day. The funny thing is, we thought we had it made for a couple months there. When Charlotte was about two-months-old, she started sleeping through the night. I’m talking down at nine, up at seven. It was glorious. And we knew how good we had it. We appreciated it and silently congratulated ourselves when we heard tales of our friends’ sleepless babes. Ah, those were the days!

This lasted for a couple months. She even slept all night in her playpen while we were on vacation in San Francisco. It was when we returned from our trip that the trouble began. We figured since she was outgrowing the bassinet, and she’d already adapted so well to sleeping in a new place, that this would be the perfect time to move her to the crib. So, we nervously and tearfully (okay, the latter was just me) put her in her room, switched on the monitor, closed the door, and hoped for the best.

Predictably, she woke a few times. It was new. She also always seemed to have this psychic ability to sense when I was in the room with her, and she always slept better when I was, so this came as no surprise. But, since then? Since then, not a night has gone by that she hasn’t ended up in our bed. I realize that we make the choice to submit to her whims, it’s just that rocking her back to sleep every twenty minutes was starting to make us just a teensy bit INSANE. Though, also maddening is the fact that we have to deal with her pounding her fists on the bed when she gets restless, spitting her binky out and demanding it be put back, and rotating until her feet are right around one of our heads. Oh, and she likes to scratch her nails against the mattress and sometimes babble her baby nonsense at a perfectly obscene hour of the morning. And who can forget the super fun game wherein she turns to her side to slap Chris in the face a couple times, before flipping back over to give me a few good whacks? And so it is that one or both of us can usually be found pinning her arms to the bed with one arm and holding the binky with the other. But at least we don’t have to get out of bed!

And every time I mention this problem to anyone, the answer is always the same: “You’re going to have to let her cry it out”. And then I’m bombarded with stories of sleepless, scream-filled nights, sometimes one, sometimes two or three, sometimes more than a week. But then? After the screaming? Invariably, after all the screaming the kid was sleeping through the night. I recently watched a Momversation video on this very matter. I never realized it was such a heated topic. I just figured you either had the fortitude to listen to your kid cry for an unspecified amount of time, or you didn’t. But apparently, there are people out there who think you are torturing your baby by not rushing to scoop her up at the first sign of a whimper. And there are also people out there who feel that you are spoiling your child by running to their aid.

I honestly don’t have strong feelings on the matter. I agree with Heather Armstrong of (she’s in the video) who says that parents should just do what’s best for their family. Every time someone told me of their “cry it out” success story, I would mention it to Chris, and every time, he shot the suggestion down with a , “But, she’s just a baaaaby”. I was pretty sure I didn’t have the stomach for it, anyway, but I was getting desperate. But, when I really started to think about the realities of letting her cry, I realized it wasn’t something I was willing to do.

If Charlotte cried for ten minutes, then fell asleep or merely whined before knocking back out, I could see this working. But she cries so hard she has to catch her breath. She turns bright red. She makes the most blood-curdling and heart-wrenching sounds, and I just don’t think I can let her do that for any significant period of time. But mostly, Chris and I agree that we just aren’t ready to send her that message. The message being that we won’t be there to rescue her when she needs us. Even if it’s true that she doesn’t actually “need” us and is just being a brat. Eventually, she will have to learn that. And say what you will about us. Call us wimps or overindulgent parents. I just know that even though it’s annoying as hell, I need to be there when she cries. Even if it means not sleeping or having a social life for now.

I’m sure to many people this means we are creating a clingy, co-dependant monster, who will be in our bed till she’s in kindergarten. And they might be right.

Oh, God. They might be right…

No comments:

Post a Comment