About 2 weeks ago, Aaron decided that he was no longer going happily to bed and no longer going to sleep in his bed at night. He wants to be held. All. Night. Long. Being that I am 24 weeks pregnant, with two active young boys, and that Roger works out of the house every day, there's just no way that we can hold Aaron all night long, even if we want to.
With aching hearts (and heads, and backs) we decided it was time for Aaron to sleep train. Now, before you go off all half-cocked about sleep training, or Ferberizing, or Cry-it-Out... just know that in our 3 years of parenting terrible sleepers we have already tried (ha ha I just typo-ed "tried" with "tired," isn't that telling?) everything to keep from getting to the crying-it-out method of sleep training. I'm talking everything. When Ian was about 15 months old, I kept a journal of what pajamas he would wear and how he slept in each pair. And what exactly we did in the way of bedtime routines on nights he slept well. What he ate the days he slept well, what order we went about our day, how long his nap was, etc.
I made myself crazy trying to "figure it out" and I still ended up rocking him for hours on end. I think we own every single book written on infant/toddler sleep and I've read every page of them all. One night, about a month after Aaron was born, right around 19 months old, we just could not take holding Ian in 4 hour shifts all night long anymore and we had to let him cry. It was the best thing we've ever done for him. The first night was horrible. He cried for an hour and 45 min, and we checked on him every 10 or so. But in less than a week he was sleeping through the night and going to bed without being rocked to sleep. An entirely new bedtime routine developed and we were all sleeping better, feeling better, loving each other a little more.
Regretfully, Aaron was born a crappy sleeper too, and for 17 months we have done the same things as we did to get Ian to sleep, knowing from experience that the day would come when we had to sleep train. Nobody wants to do it. For us, it is a decision made out of desperation after months of consideration and trying other no-cry methods. No-cry methods don't work in this house. For whatever reason our children suck at sleeping. I'm not entirely convinced it isn't something I did along the way to make them that way, but I'm also not entirely convinced it is.
It has been even more difficult for me to make the final decision to sleep train with Aaron because of his health problems. It just breaks my heart to let him cry even for one second because he's been through so much already at just 18 months. Before he was even born I had a special place in my heart for this sweet boy who has only one kidney, breathing issues, asthma, allergies, has had pneumonia more times than I can even remember, has spent time in Children's hospital, has had surgery, is on 4 regular medications, etc. I just feel so bad for him. Letting him cry to sleep was the last thing I ever wanted to do because I don't want him to feel bad about anything. He's sick so much, the least I can do is hold him, right? That is my mother's guilt with Aaron. It really gets to me.
Two weeks ago, Aaron cried all night long unless I was bent over the crib rail so he could hold onto my arm while he slept. It was the last straw. His sleeping had been getting progressively worse for several weeks and all of a sudden he decided he just wasn't going to sleep anymore unless I was touching him. Aaron won't even accept Roger as a stand-in for mommy. Aaron wants only mommy in the night. (And most other times too.) I just can't do it any more... be up all night long and all day long, running after 2 crazy boys, keeping up with the house, the finances, the doctors appointments, the shopping, cooking, etc. Not without sleep. You just cannot do it without sleep. So I told him I loved him and I walked out the door. Night one of sleep training for dear Aaron. And it was heartwrenching, just like it was with Ian. My only comfort this time was that we'd already been down this road before with Ian...with a positive outcome. We went into it knowing Aaron was going to be a tougher nut to crack and we were not expecting any overnight miracles. But the one thing we knew is that he was going to benefit from learning to sleep on his own... and we were too.
Fastforward 2 weeks. (Two weeks with a lot of crying, a lot of praying, a lot of lying awake in bed listening to my sweet baby cry over the monitor.)
No crying from Aaron at bedtime tonight! Like the good old days, in bed drowsy but awake, told him I loved him, patted him, he turned over and went to sleep.
I'm certain it means nothing for the middle of the night, which we're still struggling with (although it IS getting better... slowly), but I'm seriously encouraged by the return to (mostly) happy bedtimes.
Please take a moment, if you would, to send up a little prayer of thanksgiving for this small victory. And go ahead, while you're at it, and ask for continued comfort for Aaron during the night and at naptime, and continued strength for his parents during those times as well.
In other news:
Today we cleaned our garage. It took 2 hours. By the time we were done I was having major Braxton Hicks contractions. We had a house showing at 3:00 and we really wanted to make the house shine since it was our first Saturday request since like October and we had lots of time to do it... but I had to sit down and drink water and fold laundry for about 45 min before the CX subsided. It kinda scared me.
So most of the hard housework (cleaning floors, etc.) fell on Roger today. He didn't really appreciate it when I apologized for not being able to do more and then reminded him he was *partially* responsible for the problem I had today. I've also had really yucky sciatic nerve pain on my left side today and have been pretty much "walrussy" all day. It's too early to start feeling like a beached whale. I will not succumb. I will not waddle until at least 34 weeks. Ha ha.
The boys only had car naps when we left at 2:45 and we drove around the city for a little while looking at the flowering spring trees and tulips, down to the South Side and then the Hofbrauhaus for dinner. We even got dessert. The Apple Streudel was delicious. Then we walked around the little "crafty craftsmen" festival they were having on the South Side... the boys danced to the live music and made everyone around us smile and giggle, with their electric air guitar playing and headbanging. (Seriously, where did they learn that?!)
I bought some organic goat milk and almond soap from a girl with a booth who lives on the North Side and makes the soap in her garage. LOVE small, local businesses like that. The cake of soap was $4 and if I like it, I will definitely start buying it from her!
Home to a clean house and this awesome bedtime!
I'm in a lovely mood! Exhausted, but very happy.