I have written a few times about trying to sleep and trying to get Braden to sleep. Click here for all my previous posts on the topic. Why do I keep coming back to this over discussed area of baby rearing time and again? Simply put, this has been the hardest part about becoming a new parent for me. Every time I think we have it whooped something new comes along.
I wrote long ago about the first time Braden fell asleep on his own. It turns out that was just an anomaly. It was certainly not the start of something great. We have still been rocking him to sleep every night. This is harder than it seems with him being a 22 lb monster child. He has already outgrown his mother's lap. I am constantly begging him to learn to walk in order to save our backs.
Last week Braden started a bad habit. We would work hard to get him to sleep every night. Sometimes it took longer than others. A few nights he never slept in his bed. On the nights that he did sleep it was not through the night. He woke up at 3:30 about four nights in a row. After this he refused to go back to sleep in his crib. Either Arica or myself would end up holding him the rest of the night. Since we are both adamant about keeping him out of our bed we would sleep the rest of the night on some piece of furniture in the living room.
In case you haven't tried it, this is no way to live your life. Working and parenting are hard enough with adequate sleep. Sleeping on the couch with a 22 lb weight on your chest is not relaxing. Cuddling with a baby is fun. Waking up on your couch covered in sweat while struggling to breathe is not fun. Seeing your son's smiling face in the crib each morning is fun. Seeing a red, teary eyed, screaming child in the crib at 3:30 am is not fun. Staying up past your bed time to sneak in the Cardinals game is fun. Staying up all night serenaded by crying is not fun. I think you get the point.
Arica and I knew what we had to do in order to stop this madness. We had to let Braden cry himself to sleep. We have done that a few times when we were at our wits end, but it is never any fun. Hearing your child scream is bad enough based solely on how bad you feel for them. It is extra difficult to sign off on the plan when you add the fact that it takes away from your own sleeping time. Wanting to avoid these issues we kept putting off our date with a night of crying.
Finally on Monday Arica and I decided that enough was enough. We were not getting up at 3:30 in the morning any more. Braden would have to cry himself to sleep. That night we put him to bed and he slept for about an hour. Then he woke up screaming. We left him in the crib despite all our parenting instincts to rescue him. After half an hour he was asleep. He slept all night. Since then every night has been silent. I have not been awakened by screaming one time. The last two nights we even put him to bed awake. It took less than five minutes for him to go to sleep on his own both nights.
I know that there are no guarantees that this will last, but it feels like a natural progression. It seems like something that might stick. Next we can start getting him to bed earlier. Maybe then we can dream of reclaiming some time for ourselves. Arica and I both love holding our son more than anything, but neither of us will cry about the absence of the nightly sleep deprived wrestling matches with our baby boy.