If you follow me on Twitter, you know the last few nights with Owen have been horrific, to say the least. Seemingly out of the blue he went from going pleasantly to bed and sleeping through the night, to screaming bloody murder at bedtime, despite how much soothing we do, and waking multiple times a night doing the same. Saturday night was so bad, my mother-in-law came over yesterday afternoon just to put Owen down for a nap. I couldn’t take another sleep time tantrum and I myself was exhausted.
I’m assuming this is a phase brought about by developmental changes, a new sibling, and the arrival of fears and separation anxiety, but having “reasons” doesn’t make it easier. We’ve tried to talk to him about it during the day, reinforce a good sleep with a reward like a sticker, etc., given him an earlier bedtime, a later bedtime, a long nap, a short nap, but to no avail. I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject, talked to family, friends and coworkers with kids and the story is all the same. Most of their kids went through a stage like this around age two and uh…you just have to deal. Fan-freaking-tastic.
I vowed to do the “silent return” to bed Saturday night, where every time your child opens their door, you walk them back calmly to bed saying absolutely nothing. We used this technique briefly when we transitioned him from the crib to the bed. It makes sense, I guess. Any verbal attention, be it positive or negative, is attention. And that’s what they want. So yeah, we tried. And FAILED miserably. We both lost our temper, Owen was hysterical, and when you factor in Ryan’s 3 a.m. feeding (it’s a wonder that kid is sleeping through all this. Score one for the sound machine.), neither Michael nor I slept more than three hours total, and not even in one stretch.
Zombie parents, right here.
This has to end. It HAS to. And soon.
Scene: Sunday night. I try something different and instead of reading our usual books at night, I read them during the day. As I nurse Ryan down for bed I tuck Owen in on the loveseat, turn out the lights and put on this dreadfully (purposely) dull show on Sprout OnDemand where they basically just show random characters sleeping set to an instrumental lullaby. Warning parents: if you’re not careful, YOU will fall asleep watching this. We talk about how they are all closing their eyes and going to sleep quietly. Owen pretends to sleep on the couch and I am hopeful.
I put Ryan to bed and Owen and I walk to his room. We get in bed, sing songs and tell stories. We close our eyes and I cozy with him for a while. We talk again about going to sleep quietly and how if he does this, he can pick out a new sticker in the morning and watch a special dvd his grandmother brought him. I am hopeful, again.
I kiss him goodnight and…HYSTERICAL SCREAMING. I try and calm him, but no. He won’t have it. “COZY!!!!” he screams at me. With a heavy, yet exhausted heart, I walk out and shut the door.
Scene: I park the ottoman at the end of the hallway and set up my my Sleep Training Survival Station. I have a notepad and pen to mark down how many time he comes out of his room. I do this both out of curiosity, and to see if it gets easier as the nights go on. I am committed to making this happen. I have a Parenting magazine (HA!) (they come free in the mail. I don’t know why.) and a hard cider, although I could use something stronger. Let’s do this.
Scene: 8:04 p.m. He comes out of his room for the first time screaming at me to cozy with him in his bed. I point behind him, he turns around and back we go. I put him in bed and walk out, shutting the door behind me. I return to the ottoman, take a swig, tell the Twitters what’s going on and read a stupid article about Heidi Klum’s new clothing line for Babies R Us. He continues to rant. He screams for me to cozy in his bed, to sit in his rocking chair, to cozy in my bed. I’m sad, but this time I’m more determined. He needs to sleep. WE need to sleep.
Scene: He opens the door for the 4th or 5th time. This time as I walk towards him, he bolts by me and runs into my room screaming to cozy in my bed. He is trying to scale the side of our bed like a sleep-deprived crazed monkey. This kid’s got balls. He is sweaty and sticky. I pick him up and bring him back to bed. “MOMMY!” He yells at me. Not sad. Angry! “Mommy! You come back here!” Sigh.
This continues. Seven, eight times. Nine. And then, it changes. I hear him flop into his bed. His screams become moans, then whimpers, then just the occasional “ehhhh”, reminding me of a windup toy losing steam. Forty minutes on the dot from the start of this ordeal, he is quiet.
Scene: 3:40 a.m. Owen wakes up crying. I go into his room, tuck him back in, give him a kiss and spend a few minutes rubbing his back. When I get up to leave he protests. I tell him I love him and will see him in the morning. He starts to scream as I shut the door. This time he comes out and into our room just twice over the course of 2o minutes before falling back to sleep. Certainly not quiet or relaxing, but worlds better than the previous night.
Scene: 5:45 a.m. I have just laid down in bed to nurse Ryan when Owen comes into our room. Had this been any regular sleeping night, we would just pull him up into bed with us for a little extra sleep, so that’s what we do. Everyone dozes until 7.
I’m still exhausted today, but not quite as badly as yesterday. Owen is is great spirits, but hoarse from all that yelling. I’m not looking forward to nap time or bed tonight, but I am hoping that last night was in fact progress and it will only get better.