We are still in the midst of sleep hell around here, which explains my radio silence. I’m so sleep-deprived that I’m numb now. Most nights, I’ve been up no fewer than three times. One night last week, it was something like six or seven within the course of three hours between midnight and 3am. This ended with me in tears sitting in the middle of my son’s room begging him to sleep. That night, he would wake, and I would take him back to his room, wait for him to fall asleep (because if I don’t, he’ll follow me), and then sneak out back to my bed and go back to sleep only to be wakened again twenty minutes later to my son standing next to my bed. Several nights in a row, we just let him get in bed with us, and then my wife opted for the guest room so that she could get a few hours of sleep before teaching. My mom came to visit on Thursday, and the boy woke us all up. She offered to have him sleep with her, and she proceeded to chat with him (apparently so that he wouldn’t get upset) resulting in the whole house being wide awake at 3am. He then came to bed with us where he slept across us, occasionally using my skull as a pillow and my wife’s bladder as a kicking bag. Hell, I tell you.
But after a couple of nights of sleep, and a therapy session wherein we focused entirely on our son’s behavior, we have some new plans. He has a pallet on the floor by our bed where he is welcome to lie down, but we’re not inviting him back into our bed. We’re working with a reward system (you sleep in your bed, you get some sort of great thing, be it a trip to the park, an extra book at bedtime, etc.), but are still scoffing at the star chart our therapist insisted we need to use. I don’t know what my beef is with star charts, but I think ultimately, it’s the rewards system I’m having trouble with, the feeling that I’m training a dog. We’re doing it fairly half-heartedly and instead offering a lot of direct praise as well as letting him “overhear” us talk about how great it is when he sleeps in his bed. Ultimately, I think he wants to please us more than he wants a prize, which I think will work to our advantage. Maybe. I hope.
Honestly, I question whether those months of him sleeping all night (or those blessed mornings where he slept until 8am) were even real. Maybe it was a dream. But one would have to have slept to dream such a thing, right?
I just keep reminding myself that eventually this will pass, that things will change. Tonight, instead of nursing to sleep (oh god, I know, but when the alternative is dancing a thirty-pound kid to sleep because his brain is just too busy to put himself to sleep, you do what you have to do), he nursed for a few minutes, then asked me to rock and sing him. A few minutes later, he asked me to take him to his room, and in his words, “Dance goodnight and lay down on pillow.” This meant me dancing him to the song “Good Night” (Laurie Berkner). Normally, it means many iterations of that song and my back straining (and convincing myself that at least it’s a good workout,) and the boy finally falling asleep. Tonight it meant a single iteration of the song, and then he let me know he was ready to lie in his bed. He held my hand, wanted me to rub his head, and then finally rolled over and went to sleep. It took awhile, but he did it, and he has NEVER done this. I’m sure all of the hardcore sleep trainers out there are shaking their heads, saying “No wonder this family isn’t sleeping,” but as I’ve said before, CIO was never in the cards for us, and putting him down to sleep on his own has always meant a lot of crying.
I don’t know what any of this means. I don’t know if he’ll actually sleep tonight, or if I’ll be up most of the night shivering by his bed, willing him the fuck to sleep.