I hear angels singing. Cartoon blue birds braid my hair with ribbons. As I skip around, a zippity-do-dah soundtrack bounces from the soles of my feet. The neighbors twirl and dance in the street wearing their night-clothes. My child has slept through the night and the world is right again.
King William (my charge, his mother is in Nauru – don’t ask) is approximately 8 1/2 months olds and sleep has been something that has been missing in our household since the day he arrived. Not that I hold it against him…much, but after 8 months of 3, maybe 4 hours of sleep at a time (if I’m really lucky), I’ve had enough. You know the term beauty rest? Let’s just say I’m not getting any. People keep dropping their spare change in my coffee.
So a few weeks ago I was out to dinner with some friends (see blog re: stuffing face with crab) and we began talking about “sleep training.” Not much different than say oh, basic training for the army, the premise is that one “teaches” her child how to sleep. Now some children don’t need it; they figure out how to sleep and keep at it like champs. Other children meanwhile, like King William, would much rather be partying in Monaco, skiing in Austria or just snuggling down between mom and dad in the big bed. (Note: Well-rested parents of the former child should have better sense than to brag about it to sleep-deprived parents of the later child – I am still not sorry for hitting that woman with my purse.)
We were all set to begin training William about the magic of sleep, when Sam pulled his back lifting a slab of concrete…by himself…for no reason…and without using his knees or one of those back brace things movers wear. Yeah, don’t get me started on that one. So for 5 days (mas or menos) sleep training got put onto the back burner while Sam languished on the sofa with ice packs. It was awesome. But then when I saw him up and about and heading to the gym again, I knew it was time to remark the calendars.
We prepped William for what was happening and began this past Friday evening. William was having none of it and I spent most of the evening, night, dawn, what-have-you on the floor beside his crib cheering him on. Trust me, it’s easier said then done. I think we all got about 30 minutes of sleep that night. Even Kiki the Wonder Dog had dark circles under her big, brown eyes.
So when Saturday night came, Sam and I were ready. It was going to be hell and we donned our waders for fire and brimstone. True to our expectations, William woke up almost every hour crying. Once again, I sat on the floor and told him how much I loved him and we spent most of the night playing the game: I would not pick William up and he would not stop wanting me to. The only change between Friday and Saturday nights was that the length of the fussing got shorter. Whereas on Friday, our house sounded as if it was involved with Satanic ritual, on Saturday night, we never maxed out the hour mark.
On Sunday evening, I was exhaustedly surprised to find that William, while still waking every 2-3 hours all night long, never cried more than 5 minutes each time. As soon as he woke up and heard my voice telling him how great he was doing, how proud I was of him learning to sleep, how the capital of Vermont rhymed with couturier – well, he fell right back asleep.
And then Monday night he woke up only once at 3:30am, cried for 4 minutes and went back to sleep. We were amazed, incredulous, curiously hopeful? Which brings us to last night, Tuesday night, the night my child slept. At 6:30pm we began our ritual of naked crawl-fest, bath time, a relaxing massage, and a bottle in the dark to the melodious sounds of a glowing starfish. By 7pm, he was fast fast asleep and asleep and asleep and ASLEEP? Yes, the little angel slept until 7 o’clock this morning and when he woke up, stood up, rattled his crib, and smiled at me. No crying, no crying and guess what? No crying!
Meanwhile, I’ve found earplugs, earmuffs, and hats with thick earflaps on my doorstep. I think the neighbors are trying the tell us something.