Sleep. It's probably the topic we think and talk about the most when parenting babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. I've been reading recent posts by bloggers with newborns, and remembering my own struggles in those first weeks. Apparently it's no different with a second baby, if the recent experiences of Her Bad Mother and Mrs. Chicken are any indication. This is one of several reasons that I remain deeply ambivalent about our efforts to add to our little family of three.
I've written about our sleep situation several times before. Late last spring, I thought we had it licked. I had finally bitten the bullet and did some "sleep training" again, and the Little One was falling asleep all on her own for a very brief period before that terrible night when she woke up with that horrible ear infection. I am a total wuss to begin with on this issue to begin with, but then the guilt from that night really did me in and I put it on the back burner yet again.
It wasn't so bad in the summer, because she won't nap at home and is an early riser, so she was tired by 6:00 and asleep by 6:30 or even earlier on most nights. I didn't mind sitting there for the 15 or 20 minutes it took for her to fall asleep. But the enforced "rest time" at school is of course just long enough for her to get bored enough to nap on most days, so she is full of energy in the evening. That of course means a later bedtime. Which is fine. We've adjusted to that. We seem to be starting the bath/bedtime routine at the right point, and she always admits to feeling tired. But no matter how we adjust the timing, she takes about an hour after lights out to go to sleep, and sometimes longer. It was getting to be like this in the spring when I snapped and trained her then. But now it's even worse, and I'm even more overwhelmed with work, and when she keeps popping up to ask questions or tell me "one more thing" or ask for "one more hug" (after we've had MANY already), I become increasingly cranky and then I LOSE IT.
So it's just not working for anyone anymore. I'm feeling now like I'm a hostage to her fears of falling asleep alone rather than a parent giving my child a gift of security (which is how I saw it when she was smaller). And I would like to find a way to teach her this skill. I've written before about my sleep troubles as a child. I know this is mostly my issue, not hers. And I'm thinking that maybe there's a middle ground, a way to help her to find security without my physical presence in the room. I may have wanted my mother in the room with me when I was a child, but that doesn't mean it was a reasonable expectation or the solution to the problem.
The bottom line is that it's no longer working for me or our family, and I have to finally be consistent and stick with it. I'm going to have faith that she will be able to make it through this transition just as well as she's made it through giving up her paci (which I thought would never happen) and potty training (which felt so difficult and endless at the time but now seems like nothing in retrospect). And I think I've also figured out the truth of the matter when it comes to the Little One: once again, the one being "trained" here is really ME.