Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Silent Night ---- finally

There are always hurdles in parenting.  Some of them we master with finness.....and others challenge us more than we thought possible.  And there are a few that all but decimate us. 

And then there are the times when the hurdles seem to overlap and we are confused as to how to approach them. I think we're finally on the other side of this last line-up of hurdles that totally messed with our psyches, our confindence and more importantly - our sleep.

It started on New Years Eve.  The little town where we live seems to have an obsession with fireworks and some sort of competion as to who can buy the most and the loudest.  The commenced at 7:00pm (G's bedtime) and went through 2:30 am. RIDICULOUS!!!  Gianna actually slept from 8-10 just fine...then woke up screaming.  She's not typically scared of fireworks, but these sounded like cannons outside of her window.  Everytime she'd try to fall back asleep, same thing --- horribly loud booms followed by her pitiful panicked screams.  Finally, at 2:30 the dern things stopped and she passed out from sheer exhaustion.

The next day, the same panic set in when it was time to go to bed.  Screaming, begging, pleading ensued.  Horrible.  This is from a child who put in her bed wide awake and puts herself to sleep.  She begged us to rock her and would not let us leave the room.  "Please sleep with me. Please hold me. Please just hold my hand. Don't leave me!"  Just pathetic.

After hours of trying to get her to sleep, she would finally give in -- and then wake throughout the night with the panicked screams....anywhere from three to six times per night.  HORRIBLE.

We tried sleeping on the floor....but she always knew when we got up - even if it was an hour later and she was sleeping.  We tried rocking her til she fell asleep.  She'd wake up screaming when we put her in be.  The first couple of days was horrible - almost like post traumatic stress syndrome.

After the third day, we realized that what started out as panic, turned into learned behavior and manipulation.  No matter how long she cried before we entered her room, she'd say without a tear, "Rock me, Mommy/Daddy!"  Smart girl figured out the payoff for her desperate cries.....Parents on Demand!

It got so bad that she would go ballistic when we'd try to leave her room. She started running after us (in the dark) and banged on the door screaming all the while.  Pathetic.  We reverted back to the infant sleep training we did - let her cry for five minutes, comfort her, then wait ten minutes, then twenty minutes.....BRUTAL.  She even would lie on the floor at her door and call for me through the crack under the door.  Oh so sad. 

We tried everything we could think of to turn around this unwelcomed change of behavior.  We'd go in every time she cried to comfort her, we'd beg her, we even bribed her (which worked a couple of times).

For 28 days (TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS!!!!)  this screaming and crying continued.  She screamed so much that she lost her voice.  And during month-long sleep drought,  matters were complicated by her getting sick, a huge thunderstorm hit in the middle of the night, there was a power outtage which cut the heat and turned off her sound machine, and we started implement a new parenting/discipline technique (more on that later).

We were ridiculously sleep deprived....all three of us.  It didn't just affect our nights - but our days, as well.  I spent all my waking hours (and there were a lot of them) trying to come up with solutions.  We were dealing with fear, manipulation and a new set of habits --- which we were desperate to change.

Finally, around Day 25, it occured to me that Gianna was getting a little too dependent on us rocking her to comfort her.  I pulled the rocker from her room to see what would happen.  It actually made things easier.  She'd still ask to be rocked, but I'd just sit on the floor (she was in a toddler bed then) and hold her for a minute or two.  Conincidentally, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was in search of a glider rocker.  I was inspired to offer ours for that sweet little baby and his momma.  I was a tiny bit sad to let go of it so soon, but I figure it really was a win-win for both families.  If we're blessed with another baby - than we'll get another rocker.

I think reduced rocking combined with the fact that the lack of sleep was totally catching up with her, she FINALLY started stopped fighting it and started sleeping.  Now, bedtime is easier than it has ever been.  She's down again at 7pm and up between 6 and 7am.  Doesn't wake at all through the night (knock on wood.)  When we tell her it's time to bed, she say, "Okay.  But dare's NO fireworks. And NO funder!"

Whew. We made it through the torturous month of bedtime bedlam.  So happy to survived that set of hurdles.   We are currently scheduling a firework free trip for July 4th.  We're NOT going through this again if we can help it.

Here's to hoping for Silent Nights for all the tired moms and dads and munchkins!

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