As I ended so abruptly in the first part of this series, there has been progress. To be honest I’m actually quite afraid to talk about it because it hasn’t been so consistent yet. I never knew sleep training would come with a lot of ups and downs (and to think this is just sleep-training! Don’t talk to me about potty training. I’m not ready…). Nonetheless progress is progress, right? So let me give myself a shameless pat on the back. Heck, I’ll give myself three — Pat pat pat.
I had as my end-goal a bedtime routine that would allow me to close the lights, say goodnight, walk out the room and watch her fall asleep using our trusty monitor.
I never thought I’d get there, but on some nights, I have! (Pat pat pat again!)
Progress was slow at first — baby steps literally. I managed to make it all the way to the floor of the bedroom door with a book reading by the bathroom light. We got stuck there for months and at one point, I convinced myself that’s as far as we get. For as long as I was in the room (bathroom, in the closet, under the table, whatever), she was okay with that. I hoped that this out of sight presence would remind her that it was okay for her not to see me and she would fall asleep. It wasn’t always the case. Sometimes I’d find her standing outside the bathroom door waiting. Sometimes, she’ll crawl to the edge of the bed every other minute to continuously check if I was still there. On other nights, the delaying tactics would never end.
I was resigned to being stuck in the room for an hour every night, so I started formulating multitasking plans in my head — maybe I could pump milk quietly? Or fold laundry? Or keep Jamie outside with one hand while keeping myself inside?
MY GLIMMER OF HOPE
Then, one miraculous naptime, my resolve was re-charged. I will never forget it: January 12, 2011. Sam heard the pressure cooker whizzing in the kitchen as I was putting her to sleep and she said, “Mommy’s cooking Sinigang! (traditional Filipino broth)“, a dish she loves. So I told her to go to sleep and when she’d wake up she’d have some to eat. Just like that she lay down, let me out the door, and in 15 minutes she was asleep. That was the happiest cooking experience in my life.
After that, it was a few more weeks of sitting outside the door with the door open to “cook”. The naps were easier to shift because she could clearly see me in the daytime, and I could call in a loud voice to her that I could see her getting out of bed via the monitor. So she knew I was watching. At night though, she would still insist I stay inside, especially since she could hear her Daddy in the living area moving about. It would be an excuse to get up again.
Finally a few weeks ago with my deadline drawing closer (and those who know me will laugh), I kicked Daddy out of the house at night. I told him to switch up his schedule such that he would be at the gym while I put Sam to sleep. So he’d go and the whole house would be dark; the bedroom door would be open and I’d be outside “cooking”, as per Sam’s logic.
In a couple of days, it became routine. Sam would get all her bed friends beside her, and then would say as she lay down, “Mommy will take a bath, and then Mommy will sit on the floor. No…. Mommy will go outside and cook, and Mommy will leave the door open. Bye Mom!” I would do exactly that, and for as long as she didn’t hear the door click shut (I swear she has super baby hearing powers!), she could lie down in the dark and would fall asleep within minutes.
Yes — It CAN be done! It’s not yet something that I can count on to happen consistently on a daily basis, especially on nights when she pulls out the Daddy Drama (“Want Daddy to sleep with you”, whimper whimper — and Daddy looks at me like he can’t say no!) but I’ll take what I can get. I’m crossing my fingers that this “trend” continues even after Jamie is born (well then maybe that will be part 3 of the series when it happens!), because you never know what a new sibling will do to their self-confidence. I did notice though, that when Dad is in the room, then it takes her much longer to settle down (although of course, Dad won’t believe me as he thinks it’s a ploy to keep him out of the room, but it’s the truth, so shows the monitor!).
I am still learning. The setbacks I admit are very discouraging. There are nights when I still get stuck in the room and the crying starts up again (since we’ve let Dad stay at home at night again, and we know how he feels about crying, I do end up staying in the room). It’s a constant test of patience and willpower.
With Sam I’ve learned that I have to mean what I say (well, in life isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?), because she hangs on every word. If I say I’m going to be in the bathroom, then she won’t make a fuss for as long as I’m really in there. If I try to sneak out, she can sense it and she gets up more often to check. Building trust takes baby steps, literally speaking.
The other thing is gauging when delaying tactics are just that, or if they’re is something more. If she’s sick I’m a little more lenient, but at the same time I’ve to be extra careful we don’t overdo it.
I should be happy with where we are. It counts as an accomplishment, right? I have regained some aspect of my evenings back and have hopefully planned enough ahead that I can manage the sleep routines of two children, on top of everything else I have to do (I’m still hoping Jamie is an easier sleeper — that would be a bonus!).
The irony of it all would be if I lose more sleep trying to keep it all together!
We will revisit the Sleep-Training in a couple of months for Part 3, when I’ve somehow got a semblance of how life is with two children! Who knows what will happen then!