Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's 2:40 AM, and I'm awake.

Why? Because it seems we're hitting a developmental stage that's totally predictable and completely annoying -

Waking up again overnight.

I'm not sure it isn't due in part to his cold, but about 1 out of 3 nights, N. has been waking up at some point between 2 and 3AM. Tonight his nose was a bit snuffly when he went to bed, but he eventually got into a deep sleep and was breathing very easily.

Then, 2:20AM shows up and he screams. That's the part that I don't like - I'm not sure it's possible at this age, but sometimes I swear he's having nightmares. That deathly afraid tone in his cry won't let me just leave him there, at least when he first wakes up.

I'm guilty of giving in a few times and giving him a bottle, since it seems sometimes to be the only thing that works. The last time I did that, I woke up to a newsletter the following morning - "Babies often wake up at this age. Tell him you love him, and put him back down; do not feed or play, as this will reinforce the behavior."


He's also teething quite a bit lately, so I know that contributes to it. Tonight, I had to pick him up, because he was crying and coughing way too much. I changed his (very) wet diaper, and buttoned him back up. Once he calmed down, he started gnawing on his fingers again and crying in pain, so in goes the Tylenol. We sat in the rocking chair for a bit, and while he didn't go back to sleep, he did calm down enough for me to see he was feeling a bit better; I could also tell he was NOT hungry, which helped me in my decision NOT to feed him.

Which gives me two options: 1. hold him until he falls asleep, or 2. Put him down to go to sleep and suck it up (me, not him).

I've had success with option 2 in the past, so that's what's happening now. In the other room. At top volume.

*ducks from the parenting arrows coming her way*

I can't believe I'm wading into this particular minefield, but here I am. When N. was very young, and we'd figured out the feeding problem, I started realizing that I could in fact put him down without having him shatter into a million pieces. The first time was the day after my mother left; I was so exhausted, and I was crying, and I put him in the crib so I could wash my face and get a drink. He was asleep in 5 minutes - I was keeping him awake by holding him. Later on, I would put him down for a nap, or to sleep for the night, and he would of course screech. At first, I would pick him up, but then I decided to see what would happen if I left him. Again, asleep in 5 minutes.

The older he gets, the more confusing it gets - some parts are easier and some parts are harder. Now, I can pretty accurately judge if he's hungry or in pain, so I can put him down and feel comfortable that he's not either of those things. The harder part is that crying now, outside of hunger or pain, often comes from a place of great fear or upset. For example, when I left him at daycare for the first few days, he was genuinely afraid of these strangers I left him with, and that cry tore my heart out more than any other since he was born. I'm choked up now thinking about it.

Tonight, he cried for about 15 minutes. Hubby stayed in the bedroom with him because of his cold and cough (just to be safe), and I stayed out here, catching up on a re-play of a reality show on Bravo. And, just as I predicted, he went to sleep.

We were home on Wednesday because of a fever, and I put him down for a nap at one point when he'd been well fed and had spent 10 minutes rubbing his eyes and sucking his thumb. He screamed screamed screamed, and all of a sudden... silence. It took 6 minutes, and he napped for 2.5 hours.

I know there are some that think I'm doing him irreparable harm, but here's the thing. Most nights (and days) he goes down for bed/nap awake, happy, quiet, and is asleep in minutes. The times he does cry, it never takes long to get him to sleep. And, most times he wakes up in the morning, or in the afternoon from his nap, happy and smiling and cooing. He's wonderfully bonded with us, but also feels safe with his caregivers. He's a smiley pleasant baby 98% of the time, is well fed and well rested, and sleeps in his crib.

Bottom line? What we're doing works for us, and I get my confirmation from those smiling blue eyes every morning.

And, now, he's been asleep for 13 minutes (only took 15 to get him there), so I'll abruptly end this post, call it a night, and head to bed.

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