As I enter in my final weeks of pregnancy, I generally like to try and stock up on sleep as much as I can. I start getting pretty tired around 7pm and, with the encouragement of my husband, try to get in bed as soon as the kids are in bed. Seems like a good plan, right? WRONG. Try telling that to my sweet Harlow, who used to be a bedtime champ. About a month ago, a nighttime demon decided that he would overtake her body and soul and turn her into a crazy, demanding, do-anything-but-sleep, blonde haired punk.
Harlow was an average sleeper as a baby. She was not one of those unicorn babies that magically slept 8 hours a night when we brought her home from the hospital, but she wasn’t that bad. (I say that now, but I probably had other words to say when I was in the midst of it with her). She would sleep a few hours at a time in between feedings, and right before I went back to work (at 12 weeks) we did some sleep training with her. I feel that sleep is very important and it is a skill that babies need to learn, so I used a pseudo cry it out method with Harlow. I’d bring her up to her room when I noticed the signs of tiredness (eye rubbing, crankiness, etc). I would feed her one last time, and then I would change her diaper, put her in her pajamas, and swaddle her. We’d snuggle one last time, and I would put her in her crib drowsy but awake. I would tell her I love her, and walk out and shut the door. She would then scream. It was f’ing hard to listen to and I was downstairs crying right along with her. But, I knew she was fine. She was fed, she was dry, and she was fine. I would let her cry for a specific time frame, and then I would go into her room, put my hand on her belly, and say “you are ok.” I would then leave the room and shut the door. The first night, I think I went into her room a total of 5-6 times before she finally fell asleep. I never picked her up, but I let her know she was ok. The second night was a little better, but still sucked. And by the third night, she fell asleep soon after I first put her down and slept through the night.
It was tough love, but I am so glad we did it. It set everyone up for a few years of really good bedtime routines and sleeping through the night. Harlow was such a good sleeper that we moved her to a big girl bed right when she turned 2 years old. One reason we moved her was because we figured she would be just fine in the bed, but also because Jacek was outgrowing the mini-crib we had him in and needed a full sized crib. So, Harlow graduated from the crib and Jacek took it over.
I used to laugh and joke with my friends that Harlow was such a good sleeper that I didn’t think she knew she could actually get out of bed on her own. She never left her bed, and would lay in it and sing when she woke up in the morning. I would go through her bedtime routine of getting changed, reading books, and telling her a story, kiss her, and walk out of the room. She never said a peep until the morning and never got out of bed. I had the unicorn child!
Then about a month ago, SHIT HIT THE FAN. You guys, I am not kidding. My sweet Harlow has turned in to a bedtime/nighttime demon. I do not know what happened. Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed except the fact that after I go through the bedtime routine (potty, wash hands, brush teeth, pajamas, read a book, tell a story, and kiss her good night) it is followed up with:
“I need some water.” “Oh! I forgot my animal downstairs.” “I need to get you water, Mom.” (sits up and pushes all the blankets to the end of the bed) “Mom, I need you to fix my blankets.” “I have to go potty.” “Tell me a story.” (I did hunny.) “No, you didn’t. Tell me a stooooorrrry.”
I will admit, she’s got my number. I will let her have one drink of water, and if she says she has to go potty, how am I supposed to tell her she can’t? But all the other stuff, I say no, too. And then she turns into a demon. She gets whiny, upset, thrashes in her bed, etc. I start to get mad and tell her she is making Mommy mad and she needs to go to sleep. Eventually, I reason with her (or so I think) and get her to lay down. I walk out and start to shut the door, and she yells that she wants me to keep the door open. Ok.
By this time, it’s been about an hour since we first went upstairs to go to bed. I plop on the couch exhausted and all I want to do is snuggle up with Mark for a little bit before I want to get in bed myself. Then I hear it. The swish swish swish of little toddler feet approaching the top of the stairs. Then the small creaks the stairs make when a 34 pound demon starts to make its descent. F*ck! I thought my reasoning with her was going to work and she was going to sleep peacefully in her bed. Nope.
“Mooooom….I need…..ummm….I want a…..I’m scared.” I tell her she is ok, go up with her in her room to tuck her in, and realize that I am such a freaking sucker. She’s fine. She’s not scared, but she’s manipulative! I go to tuck her in and the entire thing starts again. “I need some water, I have to go potty, I need to turn my night light on, fix my blanket, tell me a story.” I’m getting madder and madder and just want to go to sleep myself. Here are the things I’ve tried to get her to stay in her bed and go to sleep:
- Bribery – hey, if you stay in your bed, I will let you pick out 5 coins for your piggy bank tomorrow morning!
- This worked for a few nights. Then I had to add on, “the more coins you get, the cooler thing you can buy with your money when we go to Target!” That one has run its course.
- Threats – I am going to shut your door if you come out of your room one more time! This has not worked. Mark has also threatened to not only shut her door, but put the spinny child proof knob on it. I feel that is harsh, but maybe we should try that next.
- Reasoning – Ha! There is no reasoning with a toddler.
Every night is a gamble on what is going to happen and what she is going to respond to. However she eventually stays in her room and sleeps through the night.
Well, she did sleep through the night until she realized it would be totally cool and fun to shuffle on over to our room in the middle of the night and start the antics all over again. One of the creepiest things ever is rolling over in your bed, opening your eyes, and seeing a blonde haired demon just staring at you at 2am. “Mom! I need you to fix my blanket.” For f*cks sake! Go to bed!! I bring her back to her room, tuck her in, tell her goodnight, and come back to my room. Just as I get my big-ass pregnant body comfortable again to try and fall asleep, I hear the demon shuffle again. I open my eyes, and there she is. “Mom, I want to sleep in your bed” (she says this in the most whiny voice ever). I tell her no, bring her back to her room, and leave her in her room. She then starts to cry, I feel like a horrible mom, and then I CANT SLEEP. She shuffles back, says “Mom!” and before she can even get another word out, I say “Get up here.” and I just let her finish the night in bed with us. I know that is not the right thing to do, but I am not perfect. And sometimes being imperfect gets me at least one extra hour of sleep!
Lets just hope I can get my act together before the next baby comes (anytime now!) otherwise I have a feeling that the hour or so the baby falls asleep between feedings is going to be the hour Harlow wakes us up at night. Oh, and to make things even better…..Jacek has been up a few times this week crying at about 3am. Not him, too!! I’ve realized that I AM NEVER SLEEPING AGAIN. FML.