Monday, October 16, 2006

He's Leaving Me: The Sleep Post

Call me pathetic, call me sappy, call me whatever you want (ok, not that!) but I'm not one of those moms who just gushes with glee every time her child meets a milestone, celebrates a birthday, and shows obvious signs of growing up. I've been known to cry when putting away the clothes my babies have outgrown. Of course, I'm thrilled and blessed to know that my children are healthy and developing normally, but a part of me wants to keep them babies forever, and I seem to have a lot of trouble keeping that part quiet. After all, in my own nutty family, any signs of independence were immediately honed in on with laser precision and squashed lest they run rampant and ruin not just my life but my entire devastated family's.

So, while most parents would be glad to have their sweet infant sleeping in his own room at night, my heart is breaking jut a bit that my little roommate has moved on to bigger and better things: namely, sleeping through the night in his very own crib, much too far away from his doting mommy.

We didn't come by this momentous occasion easily. Unlike Ethan The Wonder Baby, up to now Brady has preferred to fall asleep with a boob in his mouth, or at the very least in extremely close proximity. Contrary to the advice to put babies down when they're sleepy but still awake, we'd have to put him down dead asleep and then pray he didn't wake up. Always a light sleeper, recently he'd started waking up when we'd come into our bedroom, several hours after he'd already gone down. So we started putting him down in his own crib at the beginning of the night and then moving him when we were going to sleep, so he'd be close by for night time feedings. Sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn't. Overall, our system has been somewhat chaotic, usually leading to long nights of me trying to get him to go to sleep, succeeding long enough to start some night time chores (dishes, school lunches, etc.), only to have him wake up 30 minutes later, and to have to start the process over again. This does not make for a relaxing evening.

Even though I'm generally against letting babies "cry it out" in order to go to sleep, I knew the time had come for Mr. Bunch. Let me be clear: I hate this method and would never ever ever recommend it for a newborn or young infant. I did it with my older kids, however, and knew I'd have to this time as well. Friday night turned out to be the night. We finally got everyone to bed and were all but passed out on the couch. Ray had just returned from a business trip and I was pretty immobile with a bad backache. So when Brady started crying a half hour after he went to sleep, no one was exactly jumping up to soothe him. We let him go a while, and pretty soon 30 minutes had passed. Eventually I reasoned that it would do more harm than good to go get him. The last thing I want to do is reinforce the crying by rewarding it with a loving visit from Mommy and her portable dairy. I'm proud to say that our son didn't go down without a fight. After a while the screams turned to whimpers and he finally went to sleep after the worst hour I've had since he was born. Of course, I hated myself, just like I had the nights when I let Julia and Ethan cry themselves to sleep. For the record, Brady cried more than Ethan and less than Julia.

The real test of the sleep torture method actually comes the night following the torture. If it worked, the baby will get himself to sleep with considerably less crying than the previous night. For example, it took Julia 3 nights to get herself to sleep without crying at all. I'm happy to report that for Brady, it was pretty much an instant success. Saturday night he went to sleep with barely a whimper. But the true miracle came early this morning. He'd woken up sometime before 5 a.m., when he usually does to eat. t took me a while to wake up and get my act together to go take care of him and by the time I did, he had fallen back to sleep!!!! A few whimpers and he was out, with no cuddles, milk or parental intervention. Woo hoo!

It's hard to sit here and type this with Brady in his room, instead of in the co-sleeper he's slept in almost every night of his life. By the way, the Co-Sleeper by Arm's Reach is one of those awesome inventions that allow you to have your cake and eat it too: the baby sleeps right next to you, in a contraption attached to your bed, but you don't have the risks of having the baby actually sleeping in your bed. I used it with all 3 kids and loved it. Anyway, I know he's where he needs to be, and is sleeping better away from us and our tossing and turning and snoring and lights and TV and computer and alarms in the morning. My brain knows all that. But my heart knows that this is just the first step as my last baby grows up, and out, and just a little further away from me. I'll miss him all night. Every night.

Mr. Bunch, on one of his last mornings in his co-sleeper.


Lissa said...

Oh Torreh, he's such a precious little boy. I know your heart breaks just a little each night but as we also know, it grows with more love too with each of the new milestones.

Soon enough our babies are no longer our babies. You are a wonderful mom and you have given him a fabulous gift. He knows how to soothe himself. Without your love, resolve and strength, he may never have learned the first step in understanding his own freedom and how to be dependant on himself for so many things.

You dun good momma!!!

BIG hugs!

Kim - ScrapToMyLu said...

T-I could have written your post! I remember the Doc telling me to never nurse him to sleep and to start putting him in his crib when he was sleepy and let him fall asleep the rest of the way. RIGHT! Well it never worked and that's why I nursed him for a VERY LONG TIME! That child was never in his crib unless he was screaming or already asleep. He still prefers our bed. He loves to snuggle up with us. Doesn't bother either one of us. As long as he's still not in bed at 18, I'll be fine.
Cute cute photo!

OneScrappyChick said...

Aww... he's such a handsome little man. You are doing a great job.

skrpndiva said...

I never had problems with my two (knock on wood). They both slept through the night early and didn't wake up and want us. They also never got into the habit of crawling into bed with us, therefore I have a difficult time understanding this...although I do understand the entire growing up to fast thing.

Our children are growing up and there is just nothing we can do about it and frankly ... it sux!

Nik Just Nik said...

Oh T I am so happy and sad for you. I sort of know how you feel though.. Go see my blog to find out more...