We adults like our sleep. Sometimes we even want to have 8 hours of it.
Unfortunately, we forget that we didn’t feel this way when we were children.
I remember lying in the hospital bed, with the little clear bassinette next to me, waking up every 2 hours to tend to my angry newborn. We snuggled, sometimes she ate, and I wore her in a Moby wrap so that I wouldn’t drop her when I drifted off. (For those of you who have not experienced it, nursing makes YOU fall asleep quite easily…).
My last night there, little Bean was especially fussy, and not hungry at all. A very happy nurse arrived to take her out and weigh her, and she asked if I wanted her to keep the baby until she wanted to eat. The grin on her face said, “Please, please, let me play with this cute little baby!” I couldn’t deprive her now, could I?
Lined up in front of the nurses’ station were the bassinettes of the other 3 babies in the ward, with 3 happy nurses snuggling the newborns. And 3 happy couples, getting their last chance at a good night’s sleep.
When we got home, I missed that nursery.
Happily, we learned that the screams were caused by reflux, which we got under control. We then had a golden era of sleep. Beanie no longer needed to sleep in a recliner with me, and graduated to her car seat. Then, she was off to the cradle. She learned to nurse lying down, and that was the start of a new era. Cuddled between us, she slept…well….like a baby, finally!
Then, before her second birthday, she started turning sideways and kicking Rob off of the bed.
We decided it was time to move her to her own room, which was something she didn’t love at first. We had heard of this wonderful concept called “sleep training.” We bought a book called the “No-Cry Sleep Solution” and gave it a go.
Preparation for bedtime is important, in this book. Beanie’s bedtime routine took one-to-two hours. Then, I would nurse her to sleep on the floor. I slept there all night, because she was still waking up to nurse during the night. After a back injury (from sleeping on the floor!), we put some RV cushions on the floor. Other than the fact that I usually fell asleep while nursing the Bean down, all was well.
Then, when she was 22 months old, she slept all night. I woke up, wondering if she had nursed, and realized that she hadn’t. The Bean had weaned.
Enter a new world of pain. Beanie had no way to fall asleep. We snuggled, but she kept getting up. If we let her play in her room, she wouldn’t sleep at all. She screamed for hours as we tried to put her down. Rob actually tore up the sleep training book.
We scrapped the bedtime routine, which was only upsetting Beanie, because she knew that the two-hour-long events eventually led up to bedtime. Instead, we did a bath, a story, and bedtime (with a lullaby). We unscrewed her lightbulb, and left the room after the song, hug, and kiss. Oh, she was furious, but after a short burst of anger, she went to bed. (Of course, we come and get her if there is even a remote chance she is scared or in pain, or if she wakes up during the night, which is rare).
We follow this same routine today, except that recently the Bean has wanted to replace the lullaby with a snuggle. Sometimes she’ll chatter away, and it’s a good bonding time. She has trouble at hotels, because she wants nothing to do with sharing a room or a bed. Unfamiliar places cause the same problems, and she usually has one bad night on the boat.
So what’s the moral of the story? I suppose it is that sleep training is a great thing, if you want to spent a lot of time and energy on something that doesn’t work. And that you should hang in there–you’ll find something that works for your family!