Sunday, January 27, 2008

All Alone!?

Mommy Dearest here: This isn't a blog debating the pros and cons of a family bed – every parent can decide the best option for himself. To set the record straight, it was never my intention to have baby sleep in the big bed. But for many reasons, some legitimate, Esme has been mostly sleeping in our bed for the last 4 or 5 months.

And cuddling up next to such a sweet little snuggler at bedtime has its perks. Even waking up to her pokes and prods starts the day off with a smile.

But the last couple of months have become increasingly painful as Esme has "regressed" in some ways, like waking up three times a night for a snack, made very easy since her food source is right there next to her. Even more painful is the fact that she now refuses to sleep in her crib even for naps. And since the bed isn't childproof by any means, that means someone has to be with her 24/7, even during the "non-bonding" moments while she is asleep. So when is Mommy supposed to get anything done? Even showering has become a challenge again as Esme tries to climb in with me and cries when the soapy water hits her eyes.

As Esme gets longer, her Mommy and Daddy get pushed farther to the edge, since she persists in sleeping lengthwise between us. We are both about half off the bed now. I was just reading that after the age of 3 months, it only gets harder and harder over time to move the baby to another bed, for the baby as well as the parent.

So NOW is the time. Tonight she is going to sleep in her own crib. NO DEBATE. It is Friday night, so we have all weekend to recover from any lack of sleep.

Esme here: Don't I get some say in this? It is very lonely in my crib. I may never see my Mommy and Daddy again if I fall asleep in here!

First hour (8 p.m.): Mommy keeps reading and reading to me while I stand in my crib. It's okay, but I'd rather be sitting next to her. Daddy puts up the bedroom door (which got taken down five months ago when we moved in so we could fit the crib through the doorframe). I start getting fussy near the end of the hour.

Second hour: Now Mommy is singing to me. Daddy gets the stereo system from downstairs in the living room and moves it into the bedroom. (MD: Is that a reflection on my singing abilities?) At one point Mommy leaves to do an errand elsewhere in the house. I cry and Daddy rescues me out of the crib. Then Mommy comes back and puts me back in the crib.

Third hour: Daddy disappears to the living room to sleep on the couch. (MD: Now we comprehend the reason for the bedroom door going up – it blocks a little sound!) If only he were here – I might stand a chance with a sympathetic ear around. We get the music on: some Dallas Holm alternated with Dick Tunney's keyboard playing. It is very relaxing to lie here with Mommy scratching my back and head. But why can't I lie with Mommy and Daddy in their bed??? (MD: Is this really worth it? It would be so easy – and Esme would be so happy – just to put her to sleep in our bed. I have to keep reminding myself that this is for Esme's good as much as for ours – that I'm not just being selfish in wanting her out of my bed.)

Fourth hour (up til midnight): I'm battle-weary and war-worn, but I have fought a good fight. Sorry, all you other babies; I've given it my all and can't give any more. I am succumbing to sleep . . . Tomorrow is another day . . . Zzzzz . . .

MD: And she sleeps – amazing – all the way until 7 a.m.! No nighttime snacks! Can it really be this easy?

Sabbath naptimes – she slept in her crib for both of them! The first one for about 2 hours; the second for half an hour! You can say I cheated by nursing her to sleep first, but you must understand that I've tried this before – MANY TIMES – and she ALWAYS wakes up and cries the moment her head touches the crib mattress!

Saturday night: OK, tonight I'm really tired. I still don't want to sleep by myself. But Mommy reads to me again, and sings, and plays music, and rubs my back. And so far she has always been right there with me when I wake up and cry. I'm asleep in two hours this time.

MD: This night she sleeps until 4 a.m. and then wakes for a snack. An hour later, with some coaxing, she's back asleep in her crib. She's awake at 8:30 – ready for the day.
OK – we can do this! She's slept two nights in her crib! Soon she won't give it a second thought!

Sunday morning nap: I fall asleep on Mommy's lap as she's nursing me. She picks me up and sets me down in my crib. NO, NO! I know this trick! It's not going to work this time! Get me up and OUTA HERE!

I jettison everything out of my crib as Mommy tries to coax me to sleep again and gets the music going. (MD: We changed Dallas Holm to The Gaither Vocal Band – maybe that's the problem?) Then I go for my crib mobile. I force two animals off and jettison those, too. (MD: Uh oh – the animals appear to be baby proof, but not sure if the plastic and music parts are.) I would stop all this kerfuffle if Mommy would just let me sleep with her in her bed.

Finally Mommy gives up, but she doesn't get me out of the crib like I want. She sits by my crib and starts typing on the computer while I moan and groan. I even jettison my dummy (pacifier). Doesn't she know I need my dummy desperately? Where's my Daddy? DADDY?!!!?

MD: I get her dummy back to her and pat her back some more. Where did we go wrong? I KNOW she's tired. I've got three options – (1) keep trying to get her to sleep in her crib and see who's more stubborn, (2) let her out of her crib so she can play, even though she's tired, and (3) get her to sleep on my bed and take a nap with her – and then we'll BOTH feel better.

I call her Daddy (who is at work at the fabrication shop). He hears her complaining in the background and says she can't understand why she's being punished, and neither can he. That's NOT what I needed to hear.

I give up. I'm hungry, and we're getting close to two hours of unproductive crib time. We go downstairs and get some lunch. She comes close to falling asleep in her high chair.

When does this end? Will she ever sleep happily on her own? Or will she be crying about being alone at the age of 3? 7? 10? 13? 22? 48? 92?

How can I teach her that she is never, ever, truly alone?