Thursday, April 16, 2009

Only 2-1/2 Years to Sleep-Train the Baby! (We're Not Exactly Overachievers, Are We?)

Late last November, we put Genevieve back on gastric-reflux medicine, in the hopes that a recurrence of her infant reflux was causing her mysterious five-to-ten-times-per-night wakings/cryings that had been going on every night for three full months (kill me). It took a couple of weeks to fully take effect, but it seemed to help the night-crying a lot. Just over a month ago, I began the infamous "Sleep-Train Genevieve (Again)" project, sitting by her crib at bedtime and gradually moving toward the nursery door, in the hopes that she would cease her 11-month-long bedtime-screaming-fit jag. It worked, and it also had the unexpected benefit of indirectly eliminating her multiple-times-per-night nightmares/sleep-talking/sleep-yelling/etc.

(Side note: I'm still sitting outside the cracked-open nursery door for 5-10 minutes at bedtime, biding my time in the hallway for a few minutes, after reminding Genevieve of our bedtime rules: "No crying, no screaming, no talking, no singing, no whining, no fussing, no whistling, no complaining; just yawning and going to sleep." Lest you think I'm a tyrant, please be aware that Genevieve herself added most of those warnings to the list. She also included the part about yawning being allowed, after politely checking with me first. Except for when we were out of town, this system continues to be successful.)

This is a long way of saying that my life has changed dramatically in recent weeks. Genevieve goes to bed without crying for hours at a time; then she sleeps all night long without calling or crying out in the night. That means, for the first time in, uh, YEARS, I routinely get a full night of uninterrupted sleep. I still suffer insomnia when something unusually stressful is going on, or when Christopher is snoring, or when something else wakes me up in the middle of the night and I find myself lying in bed contemplating the economy, but for the most part I'm actually getting the kind of sleep most people--excluding new parents--get. I realized today that my life is no longer defined by daily exhaustion. I no longer struggle to keep my eyes open in the late afternoon. Julia no longer thinks of me as exceedingly, mysteriously, chronically tired.

Words cannot fully express the wonder of this development. You never know what a luxury it is to be able to sleep as you wish until you become a parent and that privilege goes right out the window for 3-5 years (sometimes more).

Am I right, fellow parents?

5 comments:

Mom and Kiddo said...

So true. Yay for sleep (as I type this at 2:13 am).

Mnmom said...

You are SO right!! Right there at the base of Maslow's pyramid. Nothing else can happen without adequate sleep. You are living the life I had 12-13 years ago. Sheesh, has it really been that long?

Rob Hardy said...

Hmm. Do I tell Shan about how Peter had a relapse between the ages of 6 and 9, and had terrible trouble falling asleep at night until we bought a dog to sleep with him? No, that would be too cruel.

Shan said...

ARGH! I'm not listening, Rob. Clearly, I would not survive another bout of non-sleeping children after the past nearly-five years. I've paid my dues, and I'm SURE the universe will respect that. Right? Right? Right????

latisha said...

okay i was gonna say something about the relapse thing but ill move on. im so there right now. mostly i miss sleeping with my husband. just sleeping.