My daughter is a jerk. She’ll be 14 months old next week and she insists on carving her own path. Her two older sisters followed an established pattern. Their younger sister is having none of that. She has no regard for how her actions impact the rest of us or make Laura and I feel. Her sisters don’t really care and in fact don’t even notice and I am glad of that because we don’t need the other two following her lead. Our oldest two decided to start sleeping through the night when they were around two months old. This was very kind and considerate. They recognized that we had things to do during the day and that we would be better at those things if we could sleep through the night too.
Our youngest daughter does not subscribe to this philosophy. She feels that sleep is for losers and that she would rather do without. She seems to enjoy being awake more than being asleep, especially if we are enjoying being asleep. Most nights she wakes up enough to cry while keeping her eyes closed. Apparently this is a strategy to wake us up without waking herself up. On these nights she is a lazy sleep disturber. This is a particularly jerky move since it doesn’t disrupt her sleep, only ours.
On other nights – such as last night – she puts more effort into her work. On these nights she wants to see us work for our sleep. She really tests to see how much we would like to be asleep. She lures us into her room under the pretence that she just needs someone to rub her back and then once we make physical contact, she springs the trap. She ratchets up the crying and makes it clear that we will, at a minimum, have to remove her from her crib if we hope to get her back to sleep. Sometimes she is ok with being rocked for a while and she will fall back asleep.
The next stage of course is getting her back into bed while she remains asleep. Sometimes this is possible. Most often she will re-awaken on the descent towards the mattress and do some back arches and step up the crying intensity. If we are lucky we can lie her down regardless and walk away and she will fall back to sleep within ten minutes.
On other nights, however, she doesn’t let us off so lightly. She will move to Defcon 4 crying and then we get the opportunity to try all of our parenting moves. Rocking, swaying, bouncing, the Tango, back-patting, singing, back-rubbing, shushing, reading, feeding, swearing and finally tag-teaming the other parent when we can no longer stand or function rationally.
The likelihood a kid will let a parent sleep is directly related to how early the parent needs to be up in the am. Click To Tweet
Then the defeated parent staggers back into bed and the replacement parent steps in. Sometimes the replacement rocks her for a few minutes and she happily goes back to sleep – much to the frustration of the first-responder who just spent an hour trying to get her back to sleep. Other times the back-up parent is equally ineffective and decides to just bring her into bed with us.
We try to avoid co-sleeping as much as possible. not because we have any philosophical resistance to the concept or fears for her safety, it is really because she takes up so much space and has a tendency to attack us in our sleep. In particular she is very good at punching me in the eye while I am sleeping. Sometimes though it is better to get an interrupted sleep than none at all.
Last night was one of these nights when she defeated both of us, lured us each in our turn and crushed our hopes and dreams. She decided when she was mostly done crying that she would like to play. Laura had already been up with her for a couple of hours before I tagged in. I eventually brought her into bed since I had to be up just after four am to catch a train for work and I wanted to spend some time lying down and hopefully sleeping. She calmed down and just before 3 am closed her eyes and her breathing evened out. I looked at the clock to see how long it had taken us to get her to sleep. It was 2:54 am.
Then all of a sudden she was awake and flailing about again…