I fear jinxing us by writing about this, but it really is quite an entertaining story. And it showcases our complete lack of parenting prowess when we are sleep deprived.
Eleanor has woken up in the middle of the night a few times over the last couple of months. We’re not sure what has been causing it, maybe teething pain, but what we have become sure of is how NOT to handle it.
Usually we slowly wake up and wait until she’s cried for a little while to make sure she’s not going to fall back to sleep and then one of us gets up to pick her up and calm her down. Josh has usually been the one to do this lately, mainly because our old method of putting her to sleep was nursing. Because she is weaned, I was worried that she would want to nurse. However, it has been several months, so there probably isn’t much to be concerned about, but his side of the bed is closer so…meanwhile I lie in bed listening to see if it is safe to go back to sleep.
Eventually she calms down some and Josh puts her back down in bed. Then she cries, and cries, and cries. And we wait, and wait, and wait for her to fall asleep. We usually let her cry no more than thirty minutes and here is where we go wrong. We are exhausted and just want to get back to sleep and aren’t thinking straight and are feeling sorry for our baby girl who has been crying for so long and feeling guilty for letting her cry. And we make a big mistake, Josh gets up and gets Eleanor and brings her into bed with us.
And I know you’re all thinking that the problem with this is that it will lead to a bad habit of Eleanor thinking that if she cries she gets to sleep with us. But if that were the problem I wouldn’t think twice about doing it, because it would be worth being able to get back to sleep. But no, no, no. That, so unfortunately, is not the problem.
The real problem is that bringing her into bed with us equals no sleep for anyone. She gets so excited to be up at night and in our bed that she bounces up and down on the bed, climbs all over us, sits on our heads, and shouts enthusiastic nonsense. Meanwhile we attempt to go back to sleep, thinking that she must be tired and will eventually follow our lead. But after about thirty minutes of that she decides that she wants to crawl over one of us and off of the bed to find something more fun to play with. About that time we realize that she really does have to go back to her bed.
We pick her up and we try a little normal bedtime routine of a story and diaper change in an attempt to calm her down and get her to understand that it really is time to go back to sleep. Then we put her down and usually have to listen to another twenty to thirty minutes of crying before she finally falls to sleep. By then it is two or three in the morning and we have lost about two hours of sleep. And I am so thankful that while I may be exhausted all day at least I don’t have to get up and go to work. Poor Josh.
And now that I have written about this I suspect that I will have brought another midnight waking down upon us.