It’s been two weeks since I’ve written and this is due to a few reasons. My brother and his lovely little family arrived back from the UK after being there for 12 years and well, we have being playing a lot of catch up! But the main reason is the exhaustion I’ve been experiencing. Truth is I have tried to write on a few occasions, but like a bad DJ, my words and thoughts have had no flow. I don’t want to force it. I want to write what’s bursting to come out and when it’s well and ready to. So here I am, back after two weeks of silence and this is what I have to say. And if I do in fact sound like a bad DJ at least you know why.
It’s official. I have the worst sleeper in the world. Noah never has been a good sleeper but this last week we have faced this struggle head on with whole new dilemma. The transition from his cot into a big boy bed. We have tried everything under the sun (with much determination and persistence) since Noah was 6 months old and I have stressed myself silly at times. At other times I have simply given up hope and accepted my sleepless fate. We have attempted every sleep training method known to man, none of them bringing much long -term hope. In saying that, we have experienced some promising phases in between the madness. And I think it’s these times that have encouraged me to keep persisting and believing that things will get better. My Aunt Linda’s words often echo through my head at 2am, after what is usually the second of many middle of the night disturbances, If they can do it once, they can do it again! I hold on to that at times. I don’t HOLD my breath, because lets face it I would be dead a long time ago if I did, but I grab on tightly to those sweet words and allow them to penetrate my tired mind. And I pray I have what it takes to believe in them for at least a little while longer.
In trying my hardest to believe that it would be a good process, I kept a sleep journal from the first night I put Noah in his new bed. I knew it wasn’t going to be straightforward, but in my need for positivity I thought a diary would help with monitoring his progress and maybe highlight some Do’s and Don’ts. Like I said. Don’t hold your breath.
Wednesday: We get into bed a whole 30min earlier than usual with his tea bottle and read books for 20 minutes. Turn off his bedside light at 19.30 and sing with him for 5 minutes. This is something I did with him before putting him in his cot so I try to keep the same routine. I can see he is perfectly sleepy and I say good night and leave the room. I don’t hear a peep for 15 minutes. And then he starts to sing and talk to himself:. Louder and louder. And then he starts to scream my name louder and louder. I leave him, as I would in his cot and wait 5 min. He comes to find me and says very sweetly Mommy hold you, mommy come. So I tell him firmly to go back to bed. I go with him, settle him and tell him firmly Its time for doo-doo to which he says Utah (his word for yes). I kiss him good night and he falls asleep on his own!! He wakes up at 11pm (I have only just fallen asleep) and I go to his room to settle him. I’m exhausted and end up falling asleep in his bed (for a change) and wake up at 4am! I sneak back top my room and just as I fall back asleep he is at my bedside at 5.10am. He climbs into my bed, drinks his ready-made tea bottle and we sleep together until 7am. Not a good start, but considering daddy bear is n JHB, i’m just glad I survived the night.
Thursday: Same routine as the night before. We read, drink tea and sing a song or two before the lights go out. He says Wuf you mommy and I say sleep tight. I leave the room. He calls out for me once and then I don’t hear another peep. He is fast asleep by 20.10pm. I go to sleep expecting to be woken before 11am but this time he lasts till 2am. He lets out a little cry and in fear that he will get out the bed and become unsettled I rush to him to settle him. I wait for 3 minutes and leave his room. He sleeps till 6am! The best part about this night is that he doesn’t even cry when he wakes up. I’m greeted with a Hiya mommy and a huge im-so-proup-of-myself smile. Priceless.
Friday: Daddy is back from his second weeklong trip and there is A LOT of excitement. I’m nervous as to how the bedtime routine is going to go down. He gets into bed with daddy a little later than usual at around 8pm. They read books together and then I come in and sing for after daddy says goodnight. I leave the room and wait. Not even 5 minutes later he is out of his bed, standing at his door. I tell him to back to his bed and I follow to settle him. He does this 2 more times and each time we tell him to go back to his bedroom. He finally falls asleep with daddy lying next to him for 5 minutes. The rest of the night is a blur. He wakes up about 3 times and we take turns escorting him back to his bed. But alas, he eventually lands up in our bed at 4am. Daddy’s 1st night back and after a disturbed nights sleep he is up at 6am on Saturday morning doing Barney puzzles and watching Noddy. What a dad!
Saturday: After pretty much the same routine as the previous nights, he takes about an hour to fall asleep, despite being VERY ready for bed. He only wakes up at 4am but both mom and dad make the mistake of letting him have his tea bottle at 4am and getting into bed with us. (YES we are breaking the obvious rule!) I put him back in his bed and he sleeps till 7am.
Sunday: His cousin Madison arrives back from London and we get home rather late after a catch up over pizzas. Noah has been fussy with food today but I ignore it because he has never been a great eater either. (In hindsight I knew something was not right and he was possibly coming down with something.) We get into bed with the very same routine, only this time we read the shortest book in his shelf as it is close to 9pm by the time we are in bed. He takes ages to settle, crying every time we leave the room and eventually is asleep after 10pm. He then wakes up 3 times in the night! I want to tear my hair out!!!! I eventually gain some perspective and put it down to a lot of change. A new bed, family arriving back from the UK, (he is not being the only grandchild anymore), daddy traveling and too many late nights. I also know he isn’t eating enough. That last one I’m trying to ignore. It’s the story of my life and if I really give too much thought to it, I will cry and I worry I may never stop. Moms with children who eat well most of the time will never understand the worry and stress that comes with fussy eaters.
At this point I stop keeping a diary. I’m tired and I’m not seeing much point to be honest. Every night becomes the same hazy blur and nothing we do seems to make a difference. And THEN by Wednesday we know why. He throws up his first tea bottle of the day and he is not happy. I decide to just keep an eye and see how he goes. He doesn’t vomit again but is not himself. He wakes up with a raging temperature after his afternoon nap and we take him straight to the doctor. He has a throat infection and coincidentally a bug too. The next three days are terrible. I’ve never seen my boy so sick in all his little life. I wont go into it too much, sparing all the gaggers out there the horrific details but it wasn’t pretty. The worst part about it for me is the guilt. For the last few nights he had been sick and in pain but I ignored the signs and went in with the tough love approach. My need for him to accept his new bed and become a Big boy’ overnight was so strong that I didn’t want to face the fact that he may be sick. When it became clear how sick he was, I made up for the lack of sympathy in a big way. I held him in my arms every night until he was asleep and lay with him for as long as he needed me. One thing we did stick to was keeping him in his own bed which I’m hoping may make SOME difference going forward.
So I realised this has been a pretty useless exercise. My hope was that I would document the progress my son made from his cot into his big boy bed. And just like many of these things I had to surrender myself to the unseen. The things that are out of my control. I wanted a neat and structured set of diary entries, but what I was reminded of so powerfully was the unpredictability of life and kids. I was about to scratch this whole post and start it all over again with a healthier and happier child but then I realized I would be taking away what from what this blog is all about. The ups AND downs we face, the successful accomplishments and the failed attempts. Life happens and this is what is recorded here. Instead of deleting this I will hopefully give my readers the chance to remember how uncertain everything can be at times. This is an honest account of one moms attempt to get her child to sleep in a big bed. Like most things, when it comes to raising kids, we have to learn to let go and try again. And so now that he is back to his healthy happy self (he even ate a whole slice of toast with avo this morning!!!) I will be back with my second diary attempt in the next few weeks. Watch this space!