The loss of sleep that accompanies parenting is something that is no myth. In fact, it is such common knowledge, that morons the world over like to joke that “I’ll never have kids, I like sleep too much, hur hur hur!” Its no mystery, it’s no joke. Its truth.
For some though, that truth is much ‘truer’ than others. I have friends whose young kids are sleeping through the night at 6 months, 8 months, whatever. While I’m happy that the parents of these little gems are regaining some sort of regular rest cycle, I’m secretly and silently uttering not-so-complimentary epithets at their expense.
You see, both of our kids were lousy night-time sleepers. The oldest has outgrown that, and is such a heavy sleeper, that should the initiation of the apocalypse happen in our town, there would be people in other time zones who would know about it before he does. The kid sleeps like a champion. Not always the case, but now he is, and it gives me hope.
The baby is a horrible sleeper at night.
Recently, we’ve dealt with colds and teething, which just compounded the problem, and were even viewed as reasons, so it wasn’t that bad. Prior to that, and indeed again recently, he’s back to his old tricks of waking up a few times a night, and not going back to sleep on his own.
Confession time again:
This is my fault. Completely.
You see, with my wife being the one who has to take care of the kids all day while I’m working, playing, or whatever, I readily volunteered to take the night shifts. The problem is, I didn’t train him to go back to sleep. We made a huge tactical error when setting up the baby’s room.
In all honesty, there wasn’t anyplace else to put it really, so we opted to keep it in the baby’s room. At first, this seemed like a brilliant plan. Baby wakes up, daddy gets up, takes baby, lies on futon, baby sleeps on daddy, daddy sleeps brilliantly, mommy gets rest, everybody is happy.
Slowly though, this degenerated into a minor nightmare. As anyone with kids knows, the development of a routine leads to dependencies which can be tougher to break than…well….other dependencies. It slowly evolved to the point where he’d wake up at night, and give NO effort to put himself back to sleep. He knew that if he squalled for even a minute, daddy would come in, pick him up, cuddle the hell out of him on the futon, and he could sleep on daddy’s chest for hours, not really worried about the possible spinal damage that daddy was suffering from that accursed futon.
Finally, mommy said ‘enough is enough’ – she was probably tired of daddy limping around hunched over like a Notre Dame bell ringer, groaning like an extra in “The Walking Dead.” We began to sleep train. The right way.
For anyone that’s been in the game, you might have come across this: The Sleep Easy Solution It does actually work. It was what finally led our eldest to the land of nod on his own.
But the baby? Stubborn to levels usually reserved for mules. The kid will wake up, sit up, and cry. The method dictates you go in every few minutes at increasing intervals, just to let them know that you’re still there, and eventually, they’ll lay down and go to sleep. We spent a WEEK on this training, and not ONCE did he lay himself down. He’d sit up and cry, and when he finally stopped crying, he’d remain seated, and start to fall asleep. We’d watch him weeble and wobble on the monitor, until he aaaaalmost fell over, which would be enough to wake him up and the crying would start again.
Long story short, he’s doing a bit better, daddy still sneaks a short stint on the futon with him now and then, but we are down to only one or two short wakeups at night instead of the ‘every two hours’ game he was playing not too long ago. The battle continues, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like I was losing every now and again. The kid is amazingly strong-willed, very clever, and even after miserable nights, fully able to worm his way back into my good graces in the daylight such that I don’t mind trying again when the sun goes down.
Eventually, I know we’ll win, but every now and then, I get insane little flashes of me having to rock him to sleep in his dorm room the first night of college, or hoping that when he finally marries, his wife won’t mind patting him on the butt for two hours until he goes to sleep……such are the thoughts of the daddy who hasn’t had a REM cycle in a few months.