Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sleep Training 3.5

This is not the post I was going to write tonight.

I was going to have a nice relaxing evening to myself while Mikhail was at soccer, and I was going to write a post about... well, you'll have to wait to see what that one was going to be about, because my evening was hijacked by my 3.5-year-old. Who has been in bed for two hours, and is still screaming.

The stories I could tell about sleep and Elan! Blood-curdling tales that would scare off any sane person from parenthood. However, I'm not in the mood for that particular trip down memory lane. Suffice it to say that when Elan was about 8 months old, Mikhail and I had several "dates" that included each of us poring over sleep training books, then comparing notes and coming up with a strategy, which always had to be written down so that in the middle of the night, desperation could not triumph The Plan. These strategy sessions were held in restaurants, over dinner on weekends when my parents were in town, which is the only reason you could call them dates. And the fact that we were willing to do this rather than go to a movie was a direct result of the fact that when overly sleep-deprived, I become a different person. A frustrated, depressed zombie-mama who cries too much over every small thing.

But we did it. Over time, and with much crying (Elan) and emotional trauma (me) and hearing loss (Mikhail), we managed to train our tough-sleeper into a kinda-mostly-decent sleeper. Except for the 5:30 a.m. wake-ups. Early wake-up time we've never managed to influence much, though he generally makes it to 6 a.m. these days. The problem is that every few months, for his entire life, we've had a bad sleep run, which requires crying it out again. And as he gets older, the crying sessions get louder, longer, and overall less effective. This is probably the primary reason we kept him in his crib until a few weeks ago: we were scared that he'd never sleep again once he was in a bed!

Lately, we've been having a tough time with Elan, and of course, sleep is at the forefront of the troubles. He's in that awkward phase of nap-dropping, when most days he doesn't nap but sometimes he still does, and it's almost impossible to wake him up. And then he won't go to sleep at night. For most children, not going to sleep means staying up chatting and singing and playing. And for Elan, it means one thing: screaming. Lots of it. Tonight would be a perfect example. And even when he does go straight to sleep, he wakes up so early, screaming again (I'm not sure what it would be like to wake up to a happy child, it's only happened a few times ever in our house), like someone has tortured him into waking up. And he's over-tired and difficult all day long.

And so I, the pregnant mama of a difficult 3.5-year-old, who has just started to feel somewhat like herself again and has a ton of work to do and suddenly much less childcare during which to do it (what happened at the daycare I have not yet figured out), I find myself spending my evening getting more and more upset about the whole sleep situation while desperately craving a stiff drink. Until finally, my child's screaming escalates to the point of ridiculous and I start laughing and by the time my husband gets home from soccer, I am in a Zen state, writing a blog post about a subject I would rather never think about again.

I had a sleep plan that I was going to implement starting this week. I guess I still am. Though I'm not sure how this first night fits into it. But I know we need some change around here. Before I turn back into that zombie-mama who's so pleasant to be around.

I'm pretty sure the baby will be a better sleeper than Elan. Not right at first - I'm not that unrealistic. But I do believe that God, or creation, or the universe, or however you want to characterize that force-larger-than-us - I don't think that force gives us the same challenge twice. And for all the challenges that my son embodies, sleep has always and continues to be the absolute biggest one.


  1. You are scaring me.

    But happy all is perfect with baby #2!

  2. When it comes to sleep, Elan is generally the exception to the rule. But/And - if you ever need a shoulder to cry on, I'm there!