Thursday, July 17, 2008

The trials of mommyhood

I caved. In a moment of weakness I grabbed a copy of Sleeping Through the Night off the shelf at my local library. I hastily flipped through pages looking for answers as to why my daughter is such a handful when it comes to sleep. Did I mention her new thing is looking into my pleading eyes, smirking, pulling the Binky out of her mouth and flinging it across the room. Sometimes nap time is a battle of who cries first. I usually lose. I just want the poor thing to sleep. As I frantically turned pages, Eliza stood, twisting in her umbrella stroller intermittently yanking books off of the shelf and straining to catch a glimpse of some other kids playing with a nearby dollhouse. MMM Did they have a book on behavior in public?

I didn't intend to peruse the parenting section of the library. However, it was calling to me and my eager eyes could not avoid scanning for titles even though I promised myself I would STOP reading about how to be a good parent and focus on responding to Eliza's needs. I checked out the book. I was weak and confused. I felt good about the book for the whole five minute ride home. Nap time was upon us and with no time to read the book, I held it close to E as we walked up the stairs hoping the sleepy vibes would jump to her through osmosis.

I cried first! I think just having that darned book in my house made me more frustrated than usual. Instead of just going with the flow, as Eliza fought me like a fish out of water, I went into full on Danielle panic mode. This involved calling my husband at work. Never a good idea. I started rattling off jargon like self-soothing, bed times routines, structure, earlier bedtimes, vacation, sleep training, etc, etc, etc. My husband's response to me was that Eliza would most likely end up an only child. This did NOT help my crying as I abruptly ended the call. I retrieved E from her crib and planned to try again with the nap a little later. Remarkably, my frustration eased and I realized why I originally decided to STOP reading books on parenting. I was frustrated because I wanted Eliza to nap. Eliza didn't want to nap and I obviously am not a magician who can put someone to sleep. If anyone knows a sleep spell please e-mail me. Thank you!

I have a nasty habit of letting what other people say get in my brain. My mom and dad telling me I trained Eliza to be a poor napper/sleeper. WRONG! Other moms telling me how their babies take several 2 hour naps a day and sleep all night long. Frankly, it makes me want to poke out my own eyes with dull cuticle scissors. I know every child is different. E is just the kind of different that doesn't like to sleep. I hate to sleep during the day so I know how she feels. The truth is I am very happy co-sleeping with E. I think it has many, many positives that outweigh the negatives. I do struggle with the day time naps but we get through most of the time. A car ride here, a stroller ride there, and a battle of the wills on occasion. I guess it all evens out. I remind myself that she won't die from not napping. She will be a little cranky. And so will I!

I knew it was a mistake to get a book about sleep training. It just isn't for me. I strongly believe that as a parent you have to do what feels right. Listening to Eliza cry never feels right to me. Listening to others tell me Eliza needs to cry it out doesn't feel right to me. The answer is not in a book. It is in me. Even if she is just crying because she misses me- who the heck cares. She is 10 months old and wants her mommy. I am 28 years old and sometimes I want my mommy too. sniff sniff

"After all, tomorrow is another day!"


Future Mom (Heather) said...

do whatever you feel is right for Eliza, only you are her mom

(not your parents, your friends, or the people who wrote those books)

maybe she isn't tired who knows. who cares? i'm sure she will sleep eventually. for everyone's sake i hope that time comes sooner rather than later :)

hannah said...

i agree, do what you feel is right! while i didn't love to let emmett cry, i did and it worked for us. you just have to figure that at some point she will sleep through the night.

Pam said...

First of all- can I just tell you that I love you! You could be me- just in New Jersey and not PA. ;) I am always freaking out about my kids. Currently- it is Riley's lack of talking and Ashlyn's attitude. My kids are not good sleepers- and I just want to pull my hair out and run off screaming every time my friend tells me how wonderful her girls sleep. I am so sleep deprived that I just might cry the next time someone tells me their kids sleep so well. Either they are lying or I just need a lot more sleep then everyone else on the planet. Okay, maybe they are telling the truth- but it doens't make me feel better. Okay- okay- I really had a point here! I just want you to know you are not alone. You are not alone in your quest to be the best mommy you can be and you are not alone in your husband saying E will be an only child (mine said similar things and as you know, I have 2 kids now!).

As you said- you have to do what feels right for you. If you have found what works - go with it and don't try to do what 'others' say is right.

Besides- as you know- there are no 18 year olds graduating high school who still sleep with mom and dad. E will move to her own bed when she is ready.

Hang in there! Oh, and I usually am the one who cries first too - so don't feel so bad there either!

Dana said...

Hang in there Dan.. I'm sure it'll get better!!

Missi said...

Burn it! Burn it! I think we've all had overwhelming moments like that and there's nothing wrong with it. When I was pregnant, I always said that Lillian would never sleep in our bed. When she was born, I loved having her in a cosleeper next to me and then having her in the bed. When Adam was home last week he asked if she could sleep in the bed (she's been sleeping in her room for most of the night). You do what's good for you and Eliza. Just take it one night at a time and don't do anything you don't agree with! HUGS!

Anonymous said...

i feel ur pain. for awhile we had a really good sleep routine down pat. then, came the teething. now, it's all out the window. his naps don't last as long. but he will sleep ON ME for 2 hours. and i do love just holding him. but i tend to get antsy. i figure we will eventually fall back into a pattern again. i hope. trust me...u r not alone!!

Momma On The Go said...

You are the mom and she is your kid so you can screw her up in any manner you feel is right! Just make sure to add a daily allowance to her therapy fund. Just kidding. I kinda of remember you saying you weren't the greatest napper when you were little either. Things work out and kids are always going in and out of different phases. Hopefully this is just a phase too.

Marcy said...

I don't know about that particular book, but there's plenty of sleep books that have plans that do not include any crying or leaving baby to figure it out on their own. It doesn't mean you have to read them, as mommy instincts tend to be the best, but just remember that not all "sleep training" involves crying it out.

Good luck with the naps. Will she at least do some "quiet tome" in her crib, even if she doesn't sleep? Alternately, if she seems happy and alert most of the time then she just may not need as much sleep as other kids.

Christy said...

Okay, I have to make a few suggestions, even if they aren't really what you want to hear. I just want to help.

Porgie was JUST LIKE Eliza. The girl never slept. She barely napped, fussed all day, and woke up 2 or 3 times per night for a bottle. I trudged along FOREVER, not wanting to let her cry. After I got pregnant with Izzy, I knew that I had to get her sleeping. Can you imagine getting up at night with TWO babies?

So I put her on Moxie's 2-3-4 schedule. Here is how it works... put Eliza down for a nap 2 hours after she wakes up in the morning. Look at the clock when she wakes up. Put her down for a nap 3 hours later. Look at the clock when she wakes up. Put her down for the night 4 hours later.

When nap time rolled around in my house, I would take Porgie into her room, turn the lights out,and feed her a bottle. Now here is the hard part. I would put her in the crib whether she was asleep or awake. Sometimes her cried, but she always fell asleep within 30 minutes. After a few weeks, she stopped crying because she knew the routine.

So, I hope this helps. Give it a shot - what do you have to lose?

MoziEsmé said...

This could be something I wrote - all the way to the husband's comment about an only child!

When I was pregnant, I read Babywise and was determined that Esme would be sleeping through the night by the time she was 8 weeks old. I quickly realized Esme did not fit the mold. I've tried everything, including regular routines and letting her cry up to 3-4 hours at a time, and it doesn't work for her.

I used to stress all the time about it. Especially since I NEEDED that nap/sleep time to get my work done.

Now at 15 months, she still cosleeps and often wakes up 3-4 times a night. I let her dictate naps - there is no schedule. Some days she gets no naps, other days, just a short one. On those days, I try to get her to bed a little earlier. When she takes a long nap, she may stay up until 11 p.m. or so.

It helps now that she is older - she entertains herself a little better so I can get some work done during the day. And she can sleep on our bed by herself without falling off.

What works for me - 1) lower expectations - I don't expect her to nap during the day so when she does, it's like a gift of time!, and 2) not complaining about her sleep schedule unless I'm prepared to hear lots of advice I need to ignore . . .

Best wishes with Eliza - it WILL all work out in the end . . .