Saturday, October 15, 2011

The ballad of the bedtime woes

Back when I was a teenager and my parents were early on in their "second batch" of children, my mom and I used to eat breakfast together. And invariably, my mom would tell me every single detail about how the baby had slept last night. I asked her what was up with this phenomenon -- why do moms have to rehash how the previous night went? It's over now, right? We laughed over it and called it "The Ballad of the Bedtime Woes." I tried to listen and be sympathetic, but the whole time I would think, "There's nothing new in this story. It's just like last night! Why is it so important to her to tell the story?"

Now, I know. It's just a purgative re-hashing. It's simply to make you feel better about having lost a whole night's sleep. Ideally, one's listener should hang on your every word, as if the story were actually interesting, and occasionally interject, "Sounds like you tried everything -- it's totally not your fault it went so badly!" and, "Well, you must be exhausted! How about I take over for you for a few hours while you catch a nap!"

I probably didn't say any of those helpful things when I was a teenager. But my mom says them to me when I rant to her (though, sadly, she is not near enough to trade kids with, or we TOTALLY would) because she is nice like that.

So here is last night's Ballad. If your kids are this age, you might enjoy hearing that someone else is up in the middle of the night, too. If not, you get to chuckle to yourself at my misfortune and thank your lucky stars that you got a full eight hours (or whatever you got).

I must back up a bit and tell you about a problem we've been having lately. It used to be that when Marko would wake up at night, he'd cry a little. I'd go into the bedroom, and often all I had to do was lie down next to him for fifteen minutes or so. Sometimes it took some rocking or back pats. We don't nurse at night anymore, unless I'm DESPERATE, which hasn't happened in awhile.

Lately, though, the second his eyes open, he leaps out of bed and pitter-pats to my room. He used to get lost once in awhile and end up in the living room, and then cry because we weren't in it. Now he knows to run to the door and bang on it, and I come out and put him back to bed. Problem is, by that point he's so awake we practically have to do the whole bedtime routine again to get him to sleep ... and even then, it's iffy.

Last night, it was about 3:30 a.m. when John nudged me. "I just heard his door open." When I saw the clock, I felt a little grateful, because that meant I'd slept four hours already. More than I got in one chunk the previous night! So I trudged to the door and opened it, and sure enough, there he was, grabbing at the doorknob. I swung him up into my arms, and he seemed sleepy enough. Surely it wouldn't take long to get him back to bed.

So I rocked him in the rocking chair for awhile while he tugged on my hair. Have I mentioned before how much he does this, and how much I HATE it? He used to do it while nursing ... but if he isn't nursing, and is sleepy, he does it too. If I'm lucky, he just twists it and fidgets with it. If I'm unlucky, he selects one hair at a time and pulls it out with long, slow yanks. Any attempt of mine to hinder him is met with struggling and more awakeness. But it also seems to keep him awake, as it was doing this time. His eyes were shut, his legs were limp, but that one hand just kept fiddling and fiddling, moving from this chunk of hair to that chunk of hair, and generally driving me nuts.

After about twenty minutes of this, I thought, "Well, last night he wouldn't stay asleep in his bed, and it might have been because he fell asleep in the rocker. Maybe I should put him in his bed now and let him fall asleep there the rest of the way." I laid him carefully down and he was fine. He still retained a fistful of my hair, but eventually he gave it up, rolled into a good position, and was still. WIN! But I was worried, because of his multiple wakeups the previous night (it was so bad I actually don't want to talk about it), so I stayed near him for another five minutes or so. Still quiet. So I carefully got up and went across the room for another blanket, because it was really cold in there.

By the time I got back, he had scootched up to the top of the bed and banged his head on the wall. He was definitely coming awake. I threw the blanket over him and tried to settle him back down with all my usual tricks -- arm around him, escalating to back rub, escalating to back pat, he reaches for my hair ... and we were back to square one. He's tossing, turning, fidgeting, and even starting to talk. My heart sank.

I stayed there for awhile while he poked at me and rolled over and over and over (he gets up against me and just rolls over and over trying to get "even closer" than touching ... generally squashing some part of me in the process). But then I went totally nuts and snatched him out of his bed, trembling with a weird cocktail of exhaustion, frustrating and rage, hissing angrily, "I'm going to ROCK YOU! In the ROCKING CHAIR!" (If you have never done anything like this, you probably don't have kids.)

So we rocked and rocked and rocked and rocked. I almost rocked myself to sleep, but he was still squirmy. Still pulling my hair. I tucked his hand under my arm a bunch of times, but he would squirm and yank it out. I contemplated whether spanking him would get him to fall asleep. Luckily, even my cranky, sleep-deprived mind can't imagine how that would help, so I didn't try that option. I just rocked and rocked and rocked until he was OUT. Then I stayed a long time more, freezing cold because I was afraid to move and get a blanket. And eventually, I crept out.

It was quite a shock to find it was only 4:40. It sure felt like morning. To my relief, I actually did still feel like sleeping, so I got under my covers and slowly started warming up. My eyes closed. I started to drowse ....

And then there was banging on the door and "MAMA!" Twenty minutes. I did all that rocking for twenty minutes of sleep for him ... and zero for me. At that point I really hated my life.

There was no way in this world I was going to go through that again. I might as well get up now ... except I do not want to spend a day with a kid who got up at five a.m. And I was pretty sure what was causing the awakeness ... it's that his room is so darn cold and he absolutely will not keep a blanket on to save his life. So I brought him in bed with me.

Usually this doesn't work at all. He spends all his time fidgeting and trying to kick off the blankets. But this time, it miraculously did! He slept! For two more hours! And I slept ... some. It was way too hot being between two hot people under two comforters. And I didn't have much wiggle room. But I know I did sleep, because I was in the middle of an interesting dream when he started to move.

I put my arm around him to keep him from rolling away ... but because he is contrary, he pulled away from me and rolled away anyway ... and fell right off the bed. We have a very low bed, but it was still a pretty rude awakening. I quickly realized that there was no easy way to make this kid stop screaming without having to leap into sudden bouncing and breakfast-making and pajama-changing action ... except for nursing. So I nursed him. So what if he never weans. I don't care. I got to stay in bed for ten more minutes, and when I poked at him and said, "Wanna go play with the puppy?" he grinned and got right out of bed.

All the same, I really have no idea why I am not napping right now. I totally should be.


Enbrethiliel said...


I read the whole thing! =)

You've probably already read somewhere that if you make it as far as dreaming, then you've had enough sleep. That's probably why you're not napping now.

Other than that, I don't really know what to say, except that I hope Marko (and you!) get to sleep through the night soon.

Sheila said...

Well, I am positive that's not at all true. I always dream, no matter how little I sleep ... but it doesn't keep me from being exhausted the next day. If you dream, you got at least one almost-complete sleep cycle -- but you need 4-6 cycles per night.

In good news, however, although we had a brief wakeup last night, I got him back to sleep relatively quickly. And the cat didn't wake me up more than twice after that. (She's terrified of the heater. Whenever it turns on, she comes and scratches on our door. I'm looking for a solution to that one.)

Sarah Faith said...

Oh I have SO been there with the frustrated rage hissing! hahaha Oh and the self pity at that moment is unimaginable. :) Had to laugh at your woes, sorry 'bout that. :) But only because it rings true.

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