I thought I'd chronicle my evening last night, since there are many lessons to be learned there. Mostly by me, because I'm constantly winging it (since apparently 6 years is just not a significant sample in his parenting thing) and I never know what I'm doing.
Exhibit A: I arrive home from work, with both children, and approximately 20 bags, and the first thing I try to do? Unload everything.
Why Lord, WHY do I torture myself so? I'm trying to be busy transferring milk to the refrigerator and wash out bottles while Hank is asking me to put a Wow Wow Wubbzy on for him and Anne is crying. I get Hank set up with the tv and Anne out of her car seat tote and on the floor near me.
This does not pacify her and she continues to cry. Which she does for approximately 2 full hours, until she goes to bed, silenced only briefly by a few spoonfuls of rice cereal.
Meanwhile, I have to unload Hank's stuff and get his homework organized for us to do together later. Unpack my pump, milk, and Anne's bottles. Load up new bottles for the next day. Somewhere in this time slot, I nurse her. Then, I unload my work bag and various lunch sacks. Change into something comfy and get lots of clothes into the hamper. I have to get dinner into the oven. Look through the mail and a ton of paperwork from Hank's school. And all the while, Anne is crying, and Hank is watching too much television.
Sometime thereafter, Mike comes home, and he's grumpy. I know that he's bemoaning that he's getting home so much later than he'd like and it's cutting into time with us. We eat. Anne cries. Henry refuses to eat and gets no dessert. I clean up while Mike gets Henry started on his homework. Anne cries. Mike and I take turns bouncing Anne on one hip while trying to multi-task with our other hand. I feed Anne her cereal, and then get her dressed for bed. Mike supervises Henry getting ready for bed.
We decide not to give either child a bath that night because frankly, we have no energy.
Mike puts Hank to bed, and I enact Operation Please God Let Anne Sleep Longer Than 20 Minutes. I nurse, rock and burb her and settle her into her crib. She's a bit incredulous at this, given that she's still awake, but I know that this needs to happen. She's just about 4 months old, and now is the time to start gently coaxing her to soothe herself a little bit. Otherwise, we'll be up every 20 to 60 minutes from now until she's 2 years old. And I simply can't have that.
I pop her into the crib. She glares at me, squalls about for a minute, and flips over onto her belly. I flip her back, but she's having none of that. After a tad more protesting, she flips back onto her belly and goes to sleep as I pat her back.
I scrunched my eyebrows together for awhile, but I know that there's not much I can do about this. I'm paranoid, yes, because of the Back to Sleep Campaign to reduce SIDS. But I put her onto her back. She flipped herself over, and I remember reading that once they can do that, it's ok for them to sleep on their bellies. It's not like we can prevent them from flipping when we're not there anyway. I go downstairs to confirm this in my baby book, and feel somewhat better. I settle in to knit.
In about an hour, I hear cranking. I've been checking on her a lot because of the paranoia thing, so I head up, and as I pause outside her door, I hear her settle down and fall back to sleep.
GOD IS NO LONGER SMITING ME. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.
This happens one additional time, and I start to feel hope springing up into my very heart that sometime within the next week, we may get her to sleep normally again. And by "normally" I mean that she'll still wake to nurse in the night. That's totally fine. I just don't want to be up every hour. My body physically can't take that anymore. And I know we could have her sleep in our bed. I love having her in there, and we do that sometimes to get some sleep, but we choose not to have that be our long term solution. I think bed sharing is fine for families that choose to do it, but we prefer our babies to sleep in their cribs once they're past 3 or 4 months old. I just don't sleep well when she's in the bed.
Anyway, by 9 pm I'm actually feeling happy. I've had time to relax in the evening, which hasn't happened in several weeks given the Sleep Nightmare. I contentedly knit another round on the hat I'm making. Suddenly Mike turns to me:
"Why don't we take advantage of Anne not being in our room?"
Here's the funny thing: my first thought was:
"OH! He wants to go up early to get more sleep! What a great idea!"
Yeah, that's not what he meant. :)
My knitting needles were just starting to droop and I thought about making a joke regarding my "wifely duty," but then I remembered that we're both far too tired to interpret humor correctly and he might not take that the right way. It's amazing that we're even able to *think* about doing this, really. Anyway...
Some time later, we're both contentedly reading in bed. Anne is still happily sleeping, and this is a good thing not just for us. She's way overtired and the lack of sleep is hurting her too. Within 10 minutes, we're both asleep. It's close to 10 pm.
At 11:30, Anne wakes up crying. Since it's been over 4 hours since she last ate, I go in and nurse her. She acts voracious. I manage to burp her and get her back in her crib, fast asleep.
2 hours later, she wakes again, and here's where the story turn particularly challenging. I go in to do a soothe, and somehow this only acts to escalate her furor at not being picked up. I rub her back until my hand gets sore and she's still enacting a full out protest rally in her crib. Eventually, I couldn't take it anymore, and I did nurse her. However, by this point she was wide awake, and when I put her back in her crib, I heard the familiar squirting sound indicating that poo has now entered her diaper. I change her, and now she's REALLY awake. At some point, Mike wandered in in his boxer shorts to blearily plead for me to just bring her to our bed so that we could get some sleep. I didn't want to, but I did try. Much cooing and feet playing later, I made my way back to the crib. I never left her to just cry, I stayed by her side. Eventually, around 3:30 am, she fell asleep again on her belly in the crib. She had been up for two and a half hours.
From that point, I don't remember much aside from staggering into bed and collapsing. The next time I woke up, it was 6:15 am, and Anne was still sleeping. When I was able to drag myself out of bed, I went in to check on her and she was sleeping, flipped onto her back. She woke for the morning (for the first time ever right from her crib!) at 6:30.
Although it had been a very long night, I felt victorious. Maybe there is hope that she'll be able to soothe herself back to sleep when she partially wakes in the night but is not hungry.
Oh, Please God.