Thursday, September 10, 2009

Just This Minute

Just this minute, Jemma is taking her very first nap in her big-girl bed. Jason and I set it up this morning, frame freshly painted, bedding freshly laundered. The last few weeks have contained a fair amount of sleeping drama from our previously-well-trained little one, beginning, I think with the exit from the Pack and Play at the cottage. That time, I made the fatal mistake of agreeing to lie down with her and/or sleep on a mattress in her room while she slept in the Pack and Play because, well, we were at the cottage with Annie's room just the other side of the paper-thin wall, and I thought I could localize it. When we came home, I said things like, "Well, we don't do that at home, that's just special for at the other house."

Since then, we've had lots of nights of perfectly normal, peaceful sleeping. But we've also had nights of 2:30 a.m. wake-ups, with Jemma yelling, "Mooooomy, I'm UUUUUUUUPPPPPP!" and finally flinging herself out of her crib when we fail to appear in her room. Some nights, instead of heading out for the run I had planned, I've spent up to an hour holding her door shut as she threw a fit inside the room. There was the morning when, pre-6:00 a.m., she woke me up by standing one inch from my face and saying loudly, "I have potty in my dipe," then refused to go back to bed after I had changed her.

We tried adding an extra-long "snuggle" to the bedtime routine, thinking it would calm her down a little and make her drowsier when we put her in the crib. Instead, no amount of "snuggle" was ever long enough, and the moment we moved to put her back in her crib, she'd cling to us and begin climbing right back out. We lowered the crib railing so she wouldn't hurt herself getting in and out. We began priming and painting her bed frame. We invented The Sleep Fairy, who comes sometimes in the middle of the night and leave a surprise under your pillow if you stay in your bed the whole night. We put childproof handles over the doorknobs, and she figured them out. We tried gating the doorway, and she bashed the gate down in a rage of fury and stood in the hallway, triumphant, while I may or may not have used the f-word in desperate whispers with Jason.

What she really, really wants, at this point, is to be held in the rocking chair all night long while she sleeps. And I uncomplainingly got up each and every night for the first full year of her life to nurse her (often more than once); I fully expect to lose full nights of sleep when she is sick; I have sympathy for her needing extra love and comfort when she's sleeping in an unfamiliar place, but I am drawing the line at losing nightly sleep because my two-year-old has abruptly decided that she wants to be held while she sleeps.

So, two days ago, after dropping Annie off at school, Jemma and I ran to Target and then stopped at Lowe's, where for $0.99 I purchased two hook-and-eye locks. That night, the girls watched as Jason and I drilled them into the doors from her room. We explained what they were, talked about how we stay in our rooms and sleep at nighttime, reminded her about her night light and her doops and seeing her at breakfast the next morning.

That night, we tucked Jemma in and never heard a peep from her again. I sat back with a nice glass of red wine and congratulated myself on solving the problem. The mere sight of the locks had inspired sufficient awe that she wasn't going to try to come out of her room again! Success! Victory! Sleep!

Last night, we put Jemma to bed, and she immediately began calling for us. "I want you to snuggle me!" she yelled. "I want one more drink!!!!!" "I want someone to sleep with!" "I went potty in my dipe!" and on and on it went. She'd work herself up, get out of the crib, and run from one door to the other, rattling the doorknob in the hopes that maybe this time the door would open and she could run out and demand things of us. She'd finally stop, climb back in, be quiet for 15 minutes or so, and then start all over with a new "need." This went on until almost midnight.

So, just this minute, her sleeping wad of a body in her big-girl bed is great, but I don't necessarily know what's going to go down at 8:00 tonight. Despite all our best efforts, it could go either way. Parenting is like that, a lot of the time.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful story. Sure hits home. Well-articulated...