Monday, September 12, 2011

musical beds

Drayton Harbor, Washington, visiting my in-laws, August 2011

I've been writing a lot of blog posts in my head in the middle of the night.

That's because I haven't been doing a lot of sleeping in the middle of the night.

Back when Emry was still a work-in-progress, the thing I was most nervous about when it came to expanding the family was sleep. Elan has always been a bad sleeper, mediocre in his best stretches, and so I was justifiably nervous that I would end up with two children who didn't like to sleep and then go completely crazy. I had to adopt a position of THAT COULD NEVER HAPPEN because otherwise, I never would have been able to maintain the necessary optimism throughout my pregnancy. "This baby will be a better sleeper than his brother," I'd say. And then I'd add, "He has to be," putting my hand on my bulging tummy, praying that my words were sinking deep into the baby's forming psyche.

And for the first six-plus months of Emry's life, it seemed like my denial assertions were right on. He rocked the sleeping early on, and my morning reports about the hour he slept until before crying were routinely given in a surprised voice. As in: "He slept till 4 before he wanted to nurse!" I felt vindicated (it's NOT my fault Elan's such a bad sleeper) and lucky. And surprisingly well-rested.

Unfortunately, Emry's sleep has been going downhill the last few months. I couldn't really tell you exactly when it started, but the trend is unmistakeable {sigh}. He'll get a cold, and wake up more, but then the wakings will continue even once he's feeling better. I remember this kind of thing well from Elan. We called it the dreaded backslide, and it would send chills through my spine. This time, I tried to keep a positive attitude. Emry actually likes to sleep, I'd remind myself. He is a very different personality from Elan, I'd reassure myself. Finally, Mikhail and I decided I was turning a bit too zombie-mommy for my taste (or his), and we embarked on some sleep training with Emry to cut out his newly developed midnight/1 a.m. waking. Despite my PTSD from repeated who-can-hold-out-the-longest scream-a-thons with Elan, Emry cried for 10 minutes max, and then went back to sleep till 3:30 a.m. Relief!

But lately, our house at night resembles a large-scale game of musical beds. I am gripping tenuously at the last threads of my sense of humor about the rotating bed situation: Mikhail in the office, me in our bed with Emry, Elan in his room; Mikhail squished into Elan's single bed with him in his room, Emry in his crib in the office, me up four times a night with Emry, nursing in an office chair... In one unfortunately memorable night, Mikhail slept in every bed in our house, except Emry's crib, and including the couch.

The last two weeks, we've been traveling again, and Elan has slept in a room with an adult every night. Maybe it's just coincidence and him being more relaxed because he wasn't in preschool, but his sleep - and ours - improved over that period. Sleeping inches from one of us, he quickly resettles when he screams in his sleep, which happens twice a night or more most nights. But when he's in his own room, he fully wakes up before one of us gets to him, he's afraid of being left alone again and won't go quickly back to sleep, our adrenaline is pumping from the sprint down the hallway -- the whole process results in everyone having to wake up more thoroughly. I actually find myself wondering if we should just set up a little bed for him in our room, even though he hasn't regularly shared a room with us for four years, and this from a woman who is not a fan of the family bed. In fact, if I had a large bedroom, I probably already would have given him his own corner. But I don't - I have a little bedroom, and I would really prefer to not have every member of the family sleeping in it.

We've been hoping that once Emry can share Elan's room, Elan will sleep better having him in the room, but that won't work with Emry engaging in the midnight screaming sessions he has become fond of as his latest cold works its way through (we are on Day 10 and yes, I'm counting). Ems, my baby, you're supposed to be Mama's good sleeper -- we had a deal, remember?

UPDATE, since I never got around to posting this when I wrote it a week ago: Victory! Emry's sleeping is back on track, and I'm very happy about it. Now if only we could figure out a way to get Elan to sleep better that didn't include Mikhail squeezing himself into Elan's bed and getting pummeled by a thrashing child every night. Ah, parenthood.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Becca, What about letting Elan sleep on a thin mattress on the floor next to your bed. That way it would slide under your bed during the day. And you keep your bed to yourself, and Elan feels the closeness, but also might eventually get annoyed being on the floor and will be ok with going back into his room in future weeks/months... Separately, I think Elan will really like sleeping with Emry when you are ready to put them together. Ella was also our bad sleeper, and she didnt like being left alone in her bedroom at night. When Livi was 18 months we put them in the same room, and Ella is SO much better. Now she really needs Livi there in order to go to sleep.