I’ve never asked for prayers before in my life, but I’m currently in a stressful situation that I clearly cannot solve on my own, so I figured this would be a good time to ask for prayers…
I may have mentioned that my 18-month-old son is not much of a sleeper. And after 18 months of constant sleep deprivation, I have to do something about it. The main problem is that he never learned how to fall asleep on his own. I never taught him. I was so devoted to attachment parenting when he was born that I scoffed at the notion that that was something I should try to teach him. I figured that it wouldn’t matter since we were going to do the natural thing and just have a family bed if he didn’t like sleeping in his crib. We would be just like a picture I saw in one of the Sears’ books: Mommy and Daddy peacefully asleep with their zonked out little baby between them. If he had trouble going back to sleep I would just lean over and gently soothe him until he drifted off again.
I actually laughed out loud as I typed that last sentence. Man, that is NOT how the family bed has worked out for us. Most nights (like last night, for example) he thrashes around constantly while he is asleep. Around 4:00am his sleep cycles into that light phase and he wakes up and cannot go back to sleep until he’s at the point of exhaustion. Last night in between kicks to the stomach I got an hour and a half soliloquy about “doggy” and “helicopter” and “school bus” as he alternately crawled and rolled around. He didn’t go back to sleep until 5:30 in the morning. He usually insists that I face him, which inevitably leads to accidental kicks to my stomach, chest or face (he almost broke my nose once). If I roll over and face the other way he has a screaming meltdown and starts climbing all over me. My husband does what he can to help but if he prevents my son from being right next to me a total meltdown ensues. Also, he has a job that requires him to be “on, ” so more than a couple nights per week of him being exhausted just doesn’t work for us.
I mostly feel bad for my son. He doesn’t want to be awake all those hours every night, and I know it hurts his feelings when I’m short with him. I try to be patient but when I’m totally exhausted and it’s 5:00am and he’s been thrashing around and making noise for an hour and I get a strong kick to a sensitive part of my body, I tend to get extremely frustrated. Night before last I actually snapped, “Go to sleep, dammit!” And I knew that that’s when something had to change.
So tonight we’re starting sleep training. I feel so depressed about it because we’ve tried all sorts of things before and they’ve never worked. Also, I haven’t found any book that I think is both effective and humane (I think I have read every single book on the subject of baby/toddler sleep issues). The “no cry” books are so obsessive about the baby not shedding one tear that the advice isn’t very helpful (for us, anyway); but the other books just say “leave the child in his room to cry alone, he’ll get used to it, ” which is ridiculous.
I know that whatever I do will involve some serious crying on his part, considering that anything short of me lying on my left side so that I can face him and bear the brunt of his flailing hands and feet leads to major tears. I HATE to hear my son cry, it really, REALLY bothers me, so this is not going to be easy. Yet something has to give. My son and I are both constantly exhausted and I have to have at least some improvement to the situation before the new baby gets here.
Currently I have only two sleep training goals: a) that he learn to fall asleep with minimal intervention on my part, and b) that he sleep in his crib. I plan to sleep right next to the crib and will continue doing that indefinitely if that’s what he needs, but I just cannot share a bed with him any longer.
Anyway, that’s the long, rambling version of why I need your prayers. Please pray for me that I’m doing the right thing and am able to follow through, and pray for my son the this is not too traumatic for him and that he’ll finally be able to get the sleep he needs.
(Quick disclaimer: I don’t mean for this to be an anti-family-bed post. It doesn’t work for us, but I know a lot of people who happily use this sleep method with no problems.)
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