Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Bedtime Story

In her two short years, Cecelia has been both a super sleeper, and a sleep deprivation machine. Her dual personalities can be, at times, frightening. Especially when you've grown accustomed to one and the other rears its ugly head.

To encapsulate Cecelia's sleep, she was NEVER the baby that comes home from the hospital and instantly sleeps all the time, not at night, not in her bassinet pack and play, not in her crib, not even in the specially designed Arms Reach co-sleeper, the one I got specifically to avoid having Cecelia in our bed. Because, you see, no one plans to co-sleep. I shouldn't say no one, but I'd say a whole lot of the people that do end up co-sleeping didn't plan to when they were pregnant. Because haven't you heard, there are blankets, and pillows, and smothering, flailing parents. Well, I can tell you that in our case, there was no flailing or smothering, bur there was functional sleep for everyone. Early on, Cecelia slept ONLY if she was within a breath of another person. And there are reasons for this. It regulates her breathing, calms her, she can hear a heartbeat (also regulating and calming) and she is warmed. This went for daytime sleep too. She slept in a sling. Period. I tried and sometimes did transfer her onto a surface still cuddled in her sling, but for the most part, I found she got her her best rest in the sling. And for any anti-baby wearers, the sling we had was not recalled. The ones that were recalled were designed to look more comfortable, safe and secure, being worn with the baby down at your waist, and they were buckled in, so that must be a good thing, right? Wrong!

So, Cecelia slept with us for at least a portion of the night for 13 months, and during that time she did not sleep through the night. Around 13 months, she started taking more regular naps, but there was also a shift. Even once she shifted to sleeping in her bed, she would fall asleep cuddled with us. Then one day, that changed. She couldn't fall asleep with us there. She needed her own space.

Cecelia developed a good routine. So much so that she got to a point where she would point to her bed, we would lay her down, cover her with a blanket, and she would look up with a huge cheesy grin. We walked out and that was it. Same for naps and night sleep.

Then she turned two. It seemed like that was enough to put her and us over the edge, but the key was in the routine. Our home is listed for sale and with trying to navigate home showing times, and my nasty habit of loading the day up with activity, Cecelia strayed far from her normal routine. And we all paid the price. She stopped napping, gradually. First, she could no longer transfer into the house from the car, or if she fell asleep at all in the car early in the day would not be able to fall asleep at her nor,al nap time. Then one day, I stayed home and tried for normal nap. And it still didn't work. So, I resigned myself to car naps. And that was ok. Until it affected night sleep. One night, Cece fell asleep on me and would not transfer to her bed. I chalked it up to a stuffy nose/cold, and decided she could sleep on me that night. She slept in our bed and slept well. But a two year old is much different than a one year old. She did gymnastics all night long, in a different position all night. But it was nice. Until 4:30 rolled around and she was up and at em. Not cool. We decided that the next day, we would try to get Cece back into a routine. That night, she fell asleep on me again. After an hour and a half of trying to transfer her, I decided she could sleep in our bed. Except she wasn't sleeping anymore. So into her room she went. She had a cage fight with herself and TWO HOURS later fell asleep.

The next day was daddy's routine bootcamp. And it was the kick in the butt/reminder that we all needed. That she did still need to nap. That she could get back to sleeping 10-12 hours at night. And that sacrificing my jam packed days was well worth the healthy, happy child that was returned to our doorstep. And that a little tv time to wind down is ok too.

A friend recently said she has learned not to give herself too much credit when it comes to her kids. I absolutely agree. You do what works for you...until it doesn't work anymore. And then you figure out what does. It might be different for everyone, and the greatest mistake we can make as parents is to judge. When you feel judged, you close the door and don't let others in, and the only way we can learn from one another is by opening that door.

Cecelia has returned to going to bed easily without a fight, without tears, and with a huge, cheesy goodnight grin.

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