Friday, June 19, 2009

My Week

A selection of thoughts that have been occupying my mind this week:

*What on God's green earth I ever did that was so bad that it requires me to suffer through yet another attempt to sleep-train my toddler, as some sort of maniacal payback karmic torture.

*That no, I am not being melodramatic or feeling overly sorry for myself. I'm sitting outside the nursery door again for hours every night, thank you very much. You see how YOU feel about it after spending all day taking care of two children under six years old.

*That the floor in the hallway outside the nursery is a very uncomfortable place to try to sleep. Even if it is carpeted. And that the background noise of a two-year-old whimpering, "I don't think Mama is in the hallway! Is Mama in the hallway? I don't think so!" is not exactly soothing, either.

*My Lord, that child can scream. I believe my eardrums have ruptured. What?

*That Julia is a poor honey saint of a sister to share a room with this screamy von screamster.

*How much it would cost to hire a nanny.

*Can our neighbors hear this screaming? Good Lord. They must hate us.

*The complete mystery of what could be so terrible about bedtime, to a nearly-three-year-old? It comes every single day; one should be used to it by now! It's not as if the sun does not rise again the following morning!

*What movies might be playing in the towns north and south of me. Could I drive to one of them now, buy popcorn, and just not return for a few days? Would I get arrested for that?

*That doing the bedtime routine interferes with both my running schedule (I hate running before sunset in the summer when it starts getting hot and humid) AND my yearly devotion to So You Think You Can Dance. So unfair!

*The way in which overeating Oreos and ice cream, while also not running and spending long periods of time sitting motionless outside the nursery, results in fatty von flabberton. Nice.

*Huh! She's screaming again! Even though it's the middle of the goddamn night! Imagine that.

*What's this about *&*!!@# Father's Day coming up? I can't hear you over all the screaming.


Mnmom said...


I have no answers for you. I don't know why they scream. And yes, I now have legit hearing damage from it. You really should just schedule some time away, seriously. Lina and I are free Wednesday mornings - we could cover a couple for you.

For now, get a nice floor mattress and just sleep in her room. You BOTH need some sleep and it's time for some drastic safety measures. And if some parent thinks that's indulging her, then tell them you will be parking a police siren under their bedroom window and blasting it at random intervals all night every night for the next 1.5 years and the only way to make it stop is to lay in the hallway and even then it might not work. I promise they'll leave you alone.

Anonymous said...

Shannon, I read this and went back and forth between laughing because your writing is so hilarious and clever, and feeling so bad for you as I realize that you're totally serious. This really sucks! This goes against everything I believe in, but have you tried keeping her up until she just falls asleep wherever she happens to be? At least she wouldn't be screaming (as much?). You are in definite need of some self-care right now. Screw Father's Day! YOU NEED a break!

Elise said...

I agree with the other commenters - it's survival mode time. Do whatever it takes to ensure the most sleep for the most people. And then maybe think about calling a sleep disorder center? I mean, just think about how much control this one little person is having over the quality of life for the whole family! Even if all they can tell you is to keep doing what you're doing, at least it's one other avenue pursued. I can't even IMAGINE how you're surviving this - I would go stone cold crazy. One good thing about sending her to preschool in the fall - it might wear her out some so she'll sleep better!

Shan said...

Update: I got her to go to sleep last night with no screaming-though it took more than an hour--by threatening a punishment of not being allowed to help Julia and me make the special Father's Day cake we have planned to do today if she acted naughty about bedtime. She was really, really worried about that. (Too bad I don't have a big special event/treat to threaten to take away from her every day!)

Then, as is her pattern, once she went to sleep without crying, she didn't wake up (much) crying during the night either. (One time last night.) Honestly, readers, I think she's just stubborn. I don't think she has a sleep disorder other than the gastric reflux she's being treated for. (Remember last fall when she woke up crying 5-10 times every night for 3 months before we got her back on Zantac, which then solved the problem within 2 weeks?)

I can't explain why she originally started resisting bedtime approximately a year ago. But I think she regressed this spring from my very loooooong sleep training intervention (#1) because she wants me to do bedtime every time, and she wants me to sit nearby until she's asleep every time. Once we strayed from that scenario, she began to scream, cry, and call at bedtime again. And Daddy losing his temper all the time while trying to do bedtime just made things worse (which is why I took over again).

But I agree with you all: this sucks. It's unbearable to never get a break from the children. It's not fair that I don't get any evenings anymore.

Tiffany said...

I'm thinking the being able to go to sleep without screaming by setting a "dire" consequence proves she is in control of her bedtime screaming. What do about it? I wish I knew.

Shan said...

Tiffany--yes, exactly. That's why I think she's just stubborn, not sleep-disordered. (Unless stubborn is a form of sleep disorder!) When I threatened her with something that meant a whole lot to her, she acquiesced. Although, like I said, she still talked, fussed, called, and insisted I sit outside her door for more than an hour. So it's not like her behavior was stellar. It just didn't involve crying and screaming. It was kind of sweet how much she wanted to help make that cake!!! :)

Anonymous said...

My friend had this problem with her now-4 year old son-- they solved the problem by letting him sit in his room and read books until he got tired. It seems that he just doesn't need as much sleep as his big brother, and once he was allowed to regulate when he went to sleep, he went to bed with no problem. Just a thought. Is it possible to ask her what the problem is?

Shan said...

Anonymous, our girls share a room, so we can't do that. :( Genevieve doesn't have any answer for why she acts like this at bedtime. When I ask her, she says "I don't know" or "I want you to sit in the hallway." Ideally, she'd like me to sit in the hallway outside her door, with the door cracked open so she can see me there, all night long. She doesn't say why--is she scared of something? (Julia is just a few feet from her, so you'd think she'd be OK, having her big sis nearby.) Does she just want my company? Does she simply not want to go to sleep? I don't know.

Christopher Tassava said...

On Saturday, I asked Vivi if she was scared of something at night - a leading question, I know - and she replied that she was. When I asked her what she was scared of, she said, "Tings in my woom." I reassured her that there was nothing scary in her room, since everything was the same at night as during the day, and that Mama and Daddy were close by, just down the hall in our own bed. She frowned and said, "But dat too faw!" ("But that's too far!") So maybe she is actually afraid of something, but can't articulate it well enough to talk through the fear - especially if it's a more-or-less abstract fear, like Mama and Daddy being too far away.

Christopher Tassava said...

Anothe salient factor here is that Geenvieve isn't as tired at 8 p.m. (or 9 p.m.) as she "should" be (that is, 13 or 14 hours after waking up) because she routinely takes big 2 or 3 hour naps in the afternoon, and would sleep even longer if Shannon didn't wake her up at four. The long afternoon naps prove that Vivi does need a lot of sleep (or at least the amount that three-year-olds need), but she's in a cycle now in which she makes up for less or poor overnight sleep with a long, hard nap - and then isn't tired enough to go to sleep easily at 8 in the evening.

If she were taking the 90-minute early-afternoon naps that Julia was taking when she was three, bedtimes would be a lot easier. But we're loathe to wake Vivi up any earlier than we do, for two reasons. First, those naps are Shannon's only real respite from Genevieve Drama, which pretty much commences when she wakes up at 7 a.m. and continues, as we've noted, well past bedtime. (That's not to say Shannon relaxes during the nap: she usually does as much household stuff in those few hours as other people do all day.) Second, Vivi does need the sleep. She's a bear if she doesn't get the nap.

If only we could magically shift 90 minutes from the nap to bedtime, all would be well.

Shan said...

What people need to understand about Genevieve is that she's been doing this--protesting bedtime--pretty much nonstop for over a year (brief respite earlier this spring when I spent 45 nights in a row sitting by her crib and then progressively farther away until she fell asleep each night). That includes whether she's put to bed at 7 or at 9, whether she's napped for 1 hour or for 3, even when she has not napped at all. It's human nature to want to have--and give--a tidy solution or explanation to a difficult childraising problem, but the truth about Genevieve is that there is no easy explanation or solution for 99% of the things she does.

It's possible that if I forcibly eliminated all naps whatsoever, she may suddenly begin to go to bed easily at night at 7 or 8. But that is easy to say and hard to do, when even if I wake her up at 4 she cries and cries and resists waking up then. Plus, if she starts preschool in the fall, she'll be exhausted by the time she comes home on those days, I'm sure of it. I can't believe forcing her to give up a nap is the answer. And I'm not just saying that b/c every day of nonstop Genevieve would probably kill me--though that's a big variable.

Pretty much the only time she goes to bed with minimal fuss is when Nonna is around, so I think the solution is a live-in (or live-near) grandma who is willing to take the night shift. Or at least hover nearby making her presence known.