I’m sure parents, grandparents and well-meaning strangers told us how challenging getting a child to sleep can be. But before we had Lachie those pearls of parenting wisdom fell on deaf ears. I expected some sleepless nights, filled with feeding and burping and pacing the halls but in my mind, being stupidly tired would be temporary. Almost two years later and I’m still waiting for the constant fog of tiredness to lift. And it certainly isn’t from lack of trying.
When your child isn’t naturally inclined to slumber you have to get resourceful. The Monster has been put to sleep in a sling, in a pram, in the car, in the bassinet, in his cot, in our bed, to certain songs (this one in particular, I know it’s a bit weird), to white noise, to radio static, and to the dryer. We’ve rocked him, fed him, shushed him and patted him, rubbed his back, held his hand and stroked his face. Often a combination of them all. Getting The Monster to sleep, and to stay asleep has been a challenge that we weren’t at all prepared for. And it seems that Google doesn’t have the answer, because believe me I have looked, usually at three in the morning while rocking a restless toddler back to sleep for the zillionth time.
There have, however, been brief periods of reprieve. At twelve weeks old Lachie slept eight hours straight. I still woke for his 4am feed, but my gorgeous boy didn’t. And I thought that was the start of the end of our sleepless nights. Except that it wasn’t. It was a one off and he wouldn’t repeat the feat for another year. But that was okay. I knew then that it was too much to expect an infant to sleep all night without milk, their tiny tummies needed refilling often and beyond that it was ‘normal’ to seek comfort. So I put down the night-waking to regular baby behaviour and tried to catch up on sleep where I could. But by about eight months I was at breaking point. I hadn’t had more than two hours straight sleep in months and I was too exhausted to even know where to begin dealing with the sleep issues we obviously had.
So off we went to the Brisbane sleep centre. And for the first time I learned to be pragmatic when it came to Lachies sleep. Until then I had refused to let him cry. I had read so much conflicting information about the detrimental effects of controlled crying versus the benefits of a child learning to self-settle but my heart told me I couldn’t let my baby cry for me. Over the five days we stayed at the Ellen Baron Centre the nurses helped me teach Lachie to go to sleep by himself. I won’t lie, it involved tears, both his and mine but by the time we went home I was a happy mumma with a well-rested baby.
And then The Monster got sick and it all went to shit. And I didn’t have it in me to go through the tears again so we just plodded along, doing whatever worked at the time, hoping that at some point he would just ‘figure it out’. But he didn’t. Until at about sixteen months I went to Melbourne for four days and Lachie stayed at home with Troy and by the time I returned our house was miraculously quiet, ALL NIGHT. And for four blissful months we knew what it felt like to get a good nights sleep.
Until The Monster got sick and it all went to shit, again. So for the past few months I’ve gotten incredibly well acquainted with Lachies floor. And my hips hate me. And I just LONG to sleep a full night in my bed. We’ve tried co-sleeping but it just doesn’t work for us. Mainly because The Monster likes to sleep horizontally across the bed and has a mean right boot on him. We’re at breaking point again. And something has to give. So a few nights ago we started operation Monster-sleep. I’m happy to say there have been no tears. We’re employing a strategy of gradual retreat. Currently we’re able to stand at the door (a vast improvement from having to rock him to sleep!). And last night I only had to put him back into his bed ten times. Certainly an improvement on the fifty the night before. We’re getting there, slowly.
Tell me, were you naive about the challenges of little-persons sleep? How have you dealt with them? Have you turned into a zombie yet?