Go to sleep, everybody.
Wait a minute... Somebody's not it bed!
Who's not in bed?
Igglepiggle's not in bed!
This character is probably Nik's hero. How lucky I am to have my own personal Igglepiggle.
I never knew there would come a time in my life where I would read about sleep, think about sleep, have discussions about sleep, formulate opinions about sleep, and otherwise obsess about sleep. That time has come, and it is called motherhood.
Sleeping through the night, or STTN as it is referred to on many online parenting message boards, seems to be regarded as the holy grail of young parenthood, a highly valued and possibly mythical thing. What is more, your child ability to fall and stay asleep with minimal fuss can be treated as some sort of litmus test for good parenting by some people. Annoying people. People I have not felt like talking to for some time. Or at least being honest with.
Don't get me wrong, now. Nik's sleeping has improved most mightily from the days of nine-months old and waking up every 2 hours or less. He usually wakes only once a night now, and sleeps right until morning once a week or so. I tend to start every conversation about Nik's sleep habits with these two facts. Let's focus on how far we've come! Let's not talk about how bedtimes are still a battle, or how he goes to bed later than those annoying people think he should. And I really don't want to talk about the four cavities he has from nursing to sleep and night-nursing... Let me tell you, I felt like a stellar mom after that dentist visit. But when it is a choice between nurse and sleep, or refuse to nurse and listen to screaming... Which would you choose at 2 in the morning?
Ahem... *regaining composure* So, yes, sleep. It is a hot topic around here.
Now, Nik is a nursing toddler, and mostly nurses at times related to being asleep. We stopped nursing in public around 15 months, and dropped all daytime nursings between 18 and 20 months, but the nursings around naps and bedtimes? My husband and I were afraid to touch them. If we drop those nursings, he may NEVER SLEEP AGAIN. And then we will NEVER SLEEP AGAIN. We have had enough truly miserable nights to consider those things real possibilities. But I also don't see myself nursing a nine year old, so it was clearly a problem we were going to have to tackle eventually. After Nik's second birthday, we figured, "Here goes..."
Following the example of a LLL friend, we started shortening nursings. Nik would usually fall asleep in my arms after 30 minutes of nursing, so our first target was 25 minutes. Then Andrew would come and get him, and try to put him to sleep anyway he could, as long as it didn't include nursing. The things we tried included, but were not limited to:
- Talking to him
- Not talking to him
- Touching him
- Not touching him
- Holding him
- Rocking him
- Leaving him in his crib
- Singing to him
- Humming to him
- Playing him music
- Rubbing his back
- Leaving him to cry for a few minutes *cringe*
- Leaving him to cry for longer than a few minutes *double cringe*
- And finally, some nights, giving up and nursing a frantic, exhausted child just to get this night over with already.
But then, one day, we tried giving him that glorious glo-worm.
My mom had bought the glo-worm as a present for Nik just before we took a long plane ride to California when he was a baby. He was never very interested in it, and it had wound up buried in the basement toy box. One day, when I was cleaning up, I came across it again, and Andrew suggested we try it.
That first night that Nik had the glo-worm, he stopped crying and calling for us after less than 10 minutes, and played with it until he fell asleep. After 4-5 days, there was no crying, and just a protest as you walked out the door. After another week, our little "I-hate-to-go-to-bed" boy called out, "Goo-nigh Dad!" as Andrew left the room.
Dear Playskool people,
Still, it has not been a cure-all miracle. This last week, Nik has been a little sick, and kicking up more of a fuss when it is time for bed than he was before. And he has also gotten to the point where it seems like he doesn't need a nap everyday anymore, so we are trying to figure out some new schedule around that.
Oh, well. Solve one problem, two more crop up. To borrow a phrase from "Night Garden": Tombliboo, ombliboo, that's how it goes.