Saturday, February 2, 2008

Baby Sleep and a Confession

So it's been nearly another month again since I last posted, and here I am feeling like I need to offer some sort of excuse. That's the problem of having a blog, I suppose-- sometimes it's just one more damn thing I need to do that I can't keep up with.

But really, I have a good excuse, which is that LE has stopped napping. Completely stopped. He kind of stopped in America, which I attributed to the 10-hour time difference plus all the interesting and wonderful things going on at all times, plus a good dose of separation anxiety. I hoped he'd return to his usual schedule upon coming back to Turkey, but no. No naps.

I'm a selfish, selfish Mommy. While I know the Nap is for the baby, to let him rest and recharge and grow and feel good, in reality the Nap is for me. Up to three hours of baby-free Mommy time is really freaking great, as it turns out. Instead, LE is attached to me all day. Though he's not walking yet, he gets around just fine, and gets into everything without a problem. As much as we've baby-proofed the house, there are still things I don't want him to have and places I don't want him to be. For example, I don't want him to have the toilet brush or the kitchen trash, and I don't want him to be under the desk in the jungle of computer cords. Naturally, these and other dangerous places and disgusting things are what he wants most of all, over and over again. Plus he doesn't like it if I'm not looking at him. Plus, he's tall enough to reach the keyboard and the mouse if I attempt to use the computer. So it's really just better to not bother. My days are now full of snatched moments on a crossword puzzle when LE isn't demanding that I look at him, and hours of Roll The Ball, Throw The Toy, Hide From The Baby, among other riveting sports (okay, I'm not so cynical as I'm coming off as because I do get a kick out of playing with the little fellow, however repetitive the games might be because I LOVE LOVE LOVE making him laugh), and more hours of listening to endless whimpering and whining because he's tired. Exhausted. Puffy, red-rimmed eyes. Sloppy, clumsy movements. Dozing off for a few seconds sitting up, then fighting with all his might to make it go away. But no matter how tired he is, or how completely asleep he is while nursing, as soon as I try to get him into his bed, BAM! Screaming, writhing, and no sleep.

I've tried everything, really. Staying by his bed for hours shushing and singing and patting and rubbing until he's asleep only to have him wake up five or ten minutes later. Rocking him in his carseat. Taking him out for walks (where he stays awake until we're five minutes from home and I get all optimistic but he usually wakes up again as soon as the key is in the door). Changing his nap times. Eliminating a nap. Feeding him more. Leaving him to cry for varying amounts of time. No dice. This past Monday, he woke up at 5am. I got him to nap for about fifteen minutes in the middle of the day, then he was up until 7pm. That's right, an 11-month-old baby awake for fourteen hours. Little maniac.

This was a guy who used to love his naps. About 2 hours after breakfast he'd go 'Mah!,' have a nurse, and fall asleep for two hours. Repeat after lunch, though perhaps it was a little harder going for the second one. Lately I've just resorted to letting him fall asleep on me while nursing and staying put with a book until he wakes up or I have to pee, whichever comes first. Good thing I bought a lot of books in the US.

But that's not really the confession I promised you in the title. The confession is this: I finally got fed up with LE not sleeping at night, and decided to try the Evil and Cruel and Much Warned Against Cry It Out.

(*Cue Crunchy gasps and moaning*)

My husband, for all that's good about him, is completely useless with helping out at night. For about six months, the most sleep I could hope for was about 3 hours a night, very broken. A couple nights I got two straight hours and absolutely felt like a million bucks the next day. LE got to be too active to have in bed with me, but he wouldn't stay in his own bed, and more often than not he just thought the middle of the night was time to play and abuse me in various ways. There were nights he'd be screaming in his crib right next to me and I wouldn't wake up, I was so tired. Even still, no help from my husband, who by then was sleeping in the guest bed with the door closed so as not to be disturbed. His excuse was that he had to go to work, because apparently I was just sitting on my bum eating bon bons all day. Even in America when we shared a bed, and LE was between us hitting my face and refusing to sleep, BE just ignored it and wouldn't help. His excuse then was that he was too tired. I begged, I screamed, I cried, I probably pissed off the neighbors at 3am, but no help. So in the end, I had a few goals: get some damn sleep, save the marriage, not be mad at my baby all night, and not murder BE for being, quite frankly, a complete asshole. A side goal was to not endanger LE, because I started getting pretty sloppy during the day and would forget to do things like strap him into his high chair or carseat, and I almost dropped him a few times, and I bumped his head and legs on the doorjamb more than a few times, and he got some pretty nasty rashes from me totally forgetting to change his diaper a few mornings, feeding him his breakfast and asking him, 'Why on earth do I keep smelling poo?'

And you know what? Crying it out worked. So there. It was awful the first couple of nights. Really, unbelievably awful. The first day I tried it for a nap, following Dr. Weissbluth's plan of leaving him for an hour then getting him up and trying it again later if it didn't work. It didn't work. Somewhere in that hour I thought to myself, 'What if he's hurt?' but I resisted. When I went to him, he didn't even hate me for leaving him. He was just really happy to see me and stopped crying immediately, but his little chin and hands had blood all over them where he'd apparently banged his mouth on the edge of the bed and cut the inside of his lip on his teeth. I would have preferred it if he hated me a little, I felt so guilty. The first night he stood in his bed and cried for two whole hours before finally settling down for the rest of the night. The next night it was an hour, then after that, zero to fifteen minutes. Now he sleeps all night. Really all night. Or, at least until 5am. It's a miracle.

The second day of leaving him for a nap, I was less strong, thinking of his poor lip and how happy he would be to see me. I went online to the Crunchiest Mommy place I know, the forums. My goal in doing this was to make myself feel really, really bad about leaving him to cry. Like I really needed to feel worse. And it worked, all those crunchies confessing that they were thinking about leaving their babies to cry, and all those other crunchies bustling in with a flurry of 'Don't do it, Sister!' and citing research about how leaving babies to cry makes them learning disabled or socially inept or evil or serial killers or obese. One mother cleverly pointed out that wolves don't leave their babies alone to whimper in other caves so nor should we. And even though I thought, 'Yeah, but wolves don't cook their meat either, and they smell each others' butts,' I still felt bad, specious reasoning aside. Damn hippies.

So there it is. I've confessed. I'd like to think the refusal to nap and the all-night sleep are related, but he quit napping well before I started leaving him to cry. Now at least he's getting 9 hours at night instead of 4 hours at night and not much in the day. We're sleeping at night, but there's no Mommy Time anymore. The Crunchies would probably say this is some sort of cosmic retribution, not having any free time. And perhaps it is. I've thought and thought about it, and finally arrived at the conclusion that it's better he sleeps at night. At least I don't hate my husband all the time, and I certainly feel better.

I know. It all sounds like desperate justification. It kind of is. But my menfolk are back from the market, meaning my 90 minutes of Mommy Time for this week are over, and part of that 90 minutes was spent on laundry. I have list of notes of things to blog about in the coming days, and I think I'll just have to learn some ways to do it, even with LE whacking the mouse.

Off for a rousing 'I'm Bringing Home A Baby Bumblebee.' LE can bring home the bumblebee and smash it up quite adeptly. After that he whacks himself in the face.


siobhan said...

Oh goody, you're back. Don't feel bad about leaving us, we just feel so happy when you come back ;)

I think all the arguments against cio are overridden by the fact that you cannot function normally without sleep, that's a fact. I'm so so glad you're all getting some sleep.

Stranger said...

Aww, thanks! It's nice to feel missed.

I'm with you on the CIO thing. I started mulling it when my mom started this new medicine with a bunch of unpleasant side effects, but where the benefit of the medicine outweights the unpleasantness. I just started thinking that the short- and long- term possible damage to LE of BE and I not sleeping, to me physically and mentally and to our relationship, outweighed the possible risks some research might imply to be true.

Nonetheless it still felt horribly wrong. Until we had a few nights sleep. Then it felt less wrong, and just bad.

Then I read, where some of them are on about children as old as 3 never having slept for more than two hours at a time and still refusing to CIO, and I think, wow, good commitment there, but then I think those same people are also able to pretend that vegan chocolate cake is as good as the real thing, or that signing petitions is proactive, or that attending protests does anything at all.

For my part, I'm just happy to see my dreams again. I missed them terribly.