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Coaxing Sleep

February 26, 2009
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I was so sure that I wouldn’t be the kind of mother that tolerates guff from her babies, especially in the sleep department. Sadly, I am exactly the kind of mother that not only tolerates, but encourages guff. I can trace the trail of mistakes back to when I was pregnant and I bought a laundry basket instead of a crib. This was because we did not own a suitable drawer. J never did end up sleeping in the laundry basket because I happened to mention our plan to an acquaintance who insisted I borrow her bassinet. No really. Take it. I’ll drive it over. And assemble it. You know what, why don’t you just let me raise your baby.  

I had heard many times over the course of my pregnancy that it’s not advisable to nurse one’s infant to sleep. I made a mental note but forgot to hit save and my brain crashed as soon as J was born. Now I am googling things like, “11 month old won’t sleep on his own because I am an idiot and have nursed him to sleep every night of his life.” I get approximately 12 million hits which makes me feel better.

About a month ago J decided that bedtime was the same as “tunnel-through-the-sheets-and-throw-myself-off-the-edge-of-the-mattress” time. Apparently my chest had started dispensing lattes which really threw a kink in my already abysmal sleep inducing practices.Since I was no longer serving any useful purpose, I decided to build an impenetrable pillow fortress around him hoping that would cue sleep. I would huddle on my hands and knees at the door waiting to see if it was, in fact, an impenetrable sleep aid. It was not.

I relayed my woeful tale to my other mum friends and shortly thereafter one of them had found us a crib. I remember back in the day thinking how much cribs resembled little mahogany jail cells. I was never going to put my baby in something so crass. But that ended up being EXACTLY what we were looking for: a jail cell. The transition to the crib was a success in its own right. This is probably because I would wait until J hit the emotional terrorist phase of exhaustion and then I would nurse him to sleep (ignoring that this is exactly what I was trying to circumvent), and then, just like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, I would lower him into the crib with controlled precision. This step was the most crucial of them all. If I messed it up, J would spring to life and offer me a fork to stick in my eye.

That routine went on for some time until J learned how to stand. I marveled at this achievement during the day but at night, I just wanted to disassemble his knees. When I’d lie him in the crib, he’d scream at the injustice of being horizontal – and then remember his skill. He’d hoist himself up and begin chatting with the window about what an accomplished baby he was. This would go on until he was either a) completely exhausted and unable to remember the steps involved in lying down or b) realize that the window was not giving him any desired feedback. In both cases an hysterical non-sleeping baby was the end result.

Just as my sanity and wits were coming to a dismal end, D offered to give the procedure a try. I was all, “yeah, ok, good luck buddy. He’s going to eat your face though.” Five minutes later, D walked into the living room, leaving behind a wake of sleeping silence. I wanted to punch him and make him brownies all at once. I don’t know how he did it – gravol in an eye dropper? a pressure point? I don’t care. The kid is asleep and that is quite good enough for me.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2009 3:39 am

    I hate to break it to you, but Daddies are the ultimate in sleep therapy. The secret? No boobs. Which means, no chance of milk. So it doesn’t even cross the little all nighter’s mind. Well, mostly not.

    I have found, to my everlasting and probably not so secret delight, that at some point bedtime becomes Daddy time and Mommy gets a break. Then all night becomes Daddy time and Mommy gets to sleep. Toddlerhood and nighttime Fatherhood are really synonymous, in my opinion.

    Anyway, best of luck with the sleeping, and I hope you have managed to convince Daddy that he really is the best man for the job.

  2. April 9, 2009 11:09 am

    The other commenter is right about Daddy and bedtime. Actually, you’ll find this true in many aspects of kid-life–Daddy usually gets a better response. But, back to sleep issues: I have three kids, age 6 and up who are all great sleepers now, but all nursed to sleep, and several times during the night, their first year of life.
    What worked for us was a combination of Daddy taking over night duties and techniques from this book http://tinyurl.com/c4u29x Maybe your library has it. It’s older, so some of the advice is outdated (ie sleep on tummy) but the general techniques worked for us. No crying it out.
    Perhaps the best advice is just to remember, this too shall pass. He won’t be a baby very long and all this will be forgotten. It’s like childbirth; you’ll forget the pain and trouble and remember the sweetness.

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  1. A case of Crib-Hate « mumologic

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