So the truth of it is that those stages I wrote about last time aren’t really distinct, are they? As Heather pointed out, we vacillate, moving in and out of them (sometimes all in one day, and on our worst days, in one hour!). And I have learned that the key is to surrender to acceptance. Things always go better when I am able to remember that and then actually do it. But it just isn’t that easy. Right now I’m working on accepting the little one’s sleep troubles.
She had transitioned well into her own room a few months ago, and even had quite a few nights of staying there all night long, which was strange to get used to but also quite nice. And after over three years of doing whatever was necessary to help her go to sleep (which now involves merely staying in the room until she drops off), I snapped one night when it was once again just taking far too long (over an hour and a half!) and I had too much to do. It took only two nights to teach her how to fall asleep on her own, with us just checking on her every 10 minutes or so. That little milestone changed my life: no more sitting in her room for an hour waiting for her to fall asleep (or so I thought). But then she got a bad virus and needed a lot of help to get to sleep, and that went on for two weeks or so, and ever since then she begins to panic if I even mention her falling asleep on her own again. I know I need to help her re-learn the skill, but I’ve been lazy about doing it again (and my new blog obsession has given me something enjoyable to do while she falls asleep, so I haven’t minded as much!).
The other thing is that she can’t seem to sleep for very long without waking from a nightmare or with some sort of complaint. After a year or more of having the evening hours to ourselves while she peacefully slept, we’re back to interrupted dinners once again. And as for getting to finally read in bed in the hour before I go to sleep (which was my favorite part of the day in my pre-mama days and thought I would finally get to do again now that she’s in her own room)? Forget it. By the time we’re ready to crawl into bed, I’ve tired of resettling her and just pull her into bed with us for the night (at just 9:45 last night, for instance). But the sleep troubles don’t end there. She continues to wake from nightmares on many nights, and thrashes around in her sleep. She’s long-limbed already, so we’ve both taken quite a beating on many a night now. Sigh.
Here’s the thing: I know I could do some serious sleep training a la Supernanny and get her to not only fall asleep on her own, but I just can’t bring myself to do it, given that she clearly has sleep issues. You see, when I was little I suffered from terrible fears, which caused insomnia. And I didn’t feel I could wake my parents to ask for help, so I’m guessing I had been sleep trained myself when I was a baby. Whatever they did, I got the message that I was on my own at night. And so I just can’t do that to the little one. I cannot stand the thought of her alone in her room, scared, thinking she can’t call for me or that she’ll be marched back to bed if she gets up and comes to me. So I’m trying to achieve acceptance of the situation, because this is an important gift I can give to her.
What about you? Do you do something as a parent that stems from issues in your own upbringing? (And does anyone have tips for surviving the intensity of these sleep issues? And does it ever end?)