Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Up, up and away

Dear Annabel,

It seems as if we're back where we started, you and I.

Well, not ALL THE WAY back but back far enough so that the difficulty of trudging around the house late at night, tripping over shoes abandoned in doorways while trying sooth you back to sleep -- and willing the night to come when you'd sleep straight through -- comes rushing back in a way that seems like it never left.

I'm not sure what's keeping you up at night, but there's no doubt your sleep patterns have slipped.

At 8 p.m. we start our ritual: You put on your jim-jams, brush your teeth and collect your books. We read three stories, and when you're all cuddled in, you say you want me to do exercises. I stretch a bit on your carpeted floor. An upward-facing dog, a downward facing dog and child pose. I kiss you "goodnight" and power up your CD player, Peter and the Wolf is the selection tonight. Sir John Gielgud's voice fills your room. I turn it down to a whisper. You protest, telling me you can't hear it. I increase the volume slightly so you're satisfied and dim the lights.

For a moment you are quiet. I settle onto the living room couch, switch on the computer, dig out the Christmas ornaments we've been working on and wait for your soft, skittering footsteps to sound from the hallway.

"Mama, there's monsters in my woom."
"Mama, I dropped my binky."
"Mama, the moosic stopped."
"Mama, I want any something to drink."
"Mama, my blankets don't work."
"Mama, I dotta do potty. ... And them m-n-ms, mama."

You visit until almost 10 p.m. when, out of sheer exhaustion, you fall asleep, your pacifier on the floor, bedclothes in tangles and legs half off the bed.

When I finally drop off to sleep an hour or so later, maybe getting four ornaments started, the dishes put away and a load of laundry in the wash, I know I when next I wake the house will be pitch black and the digital clock will inform me that its 3 a.m. For the next two hours it will be an up and down endeavor to get you back in your bed and back to sleep. Your father will rouse himself and try to get you to realize NIGHT IS FOR SLEEPING, but in 20 minutes you'll be back, complaining that something's wrong in your room.

By 6 a.m. we'll have gotten you off to sleep again and if I'm lucky, you'll wake in an hour, ready for the day. More than likely though, you'll sleep another two hours and I will have to rush the morning rush.

Of course, everyone and their mother is telling me that I must resist the temptation and let you scream it out, let you wrestle with the demon insomnia alone - but it's a tough sell. I give an ultimatum, and even I think it sounds hollow: THIS IS THE LAST TIME I'M COMING IN HERE. HERE. HERE.

"Ok, mommy. Than I'll just tum out. That would be a good idea."

"No, honey. It's not. Now go to sleep."



stefanierj said...

Oh, Lord, I don't know what's worse--the sleep issues or the advice you get from everybody and their brother.

Good luck-sending sweet dreamy thoughts IttyBit's way.

Andrea said...

Been there and our bed still ends up with three more often than not. But Annabel's reasons are much more creative than Gabe's. I hope you find a trick soon, and when you do, wanna share?

I've tried the crying it out business. It worked a few times, but then Gabe just got to where he'd start screaming when I'd take him to his room. I didn't want him to dread his room so I stayed with him. I let him fall asleep in my arms. And then after a week, I leave his room before he falls asleep but is sleepy enough to stay there. And then the next week, I'll leave before he's totally sleepy. And then the next week, I'll leave while he's wide awake, telling him he can do it, telling him I'm right outside and not going anywhere, but that he needs to stay in his bed. I'm cradling him through to where I can read to him, shut out the light, and have him roll over and go to sleep on his own. Sometimes, I stay a little too long and set myself back, but someday, he won't want me in his room, so on occasion, I let myself linger while I'm allowed.

Kristi said...

Don't you love how it gets dark so early in the fall? 7:00 bedtime in my house, baby. And then we (husband and I) put on our big bad monster voices when they come out for water or whatever.


We should probably be working on a gentler approach...

Anonymous said...

Your photos amaze me.