It’s only taken over 2 years.
I would be a total liar if I didn’t admit that there were many times during the past year that I didn’t act very appropriate when I was woken up for the millionth time in one night or pushed over the edge when nap time would come and go and he was still awake. I say the past year because a) I seriously had no expectations the first year and b) I became pregnant the second year, thus causing me to need uninterrupted sleep. I also developed nursing aversions, so that was another unpleasant experience I dreaded that occurred every single time we tried to put him to sleep.
The first year, Piggie woke every 2 hours around the clock. That sounds intense but it actually wasn’t that bad because he slept next to me and side nursing doesn’t even require fully waking up. I never felt exhausted.
The second year continued the same. I got pregnant when Piggie was 15 months old and that’s where things started to turn verrrry sour. Because of my exhaustion from pregnancy and nursing aversions, Luis took over Piggie at bedtime. Luis had also been laid off, so he was home all day and ruining the basic routine we had. Everything was all jumbled up! Pregnancy, lay off, stress in the air; who can really blame Piggie for how horrid of a sleeper he became (yes, even worse than waking every 2 hours).
Before I got pregnant, he went down pretty easily with a nursing session. After pregnancy, not so easily. As I had posted here before about night weaning Piggie, I was going to try Dr. Jay Gordon’s night weaning plan for co-sleeping, nursing toddlers because I couldn’t handle the 2 hour wakings anymore since the nursing fully woke me up. Never happened. Although the plan involves crying because you gradually stop the nursing sessions over a period of about 2 weeks, they don’t cry alone. You’re holding them, etc. But Luis couldn’t take it. So he said he’d bounce him on the yoga ball when he woke up. Whatever, I didn’t care. I just needed to sleep.
So when Luis took over, all bedtime routine went out the door and I just didn’t pay much attention to it. I wanted to avoid it because I didn’t want to nurse him. Piggie was basically staying awake until he crashed, and then waking up several times at night and Luis was having to bounce him every time. Of course, he didn’t want that, he asked for me every single time. Luis and Piggie ended up moving into our guest bedroom in hopes that he wouldn’t ask for me so much. It didn’t really help but I enjoyed having the bed all to my fat, pregnant self.
But things were just getting baaaad. He was whiney and tantrumy, his naps were getting later and later in the afternoon, he couldn’t even stay asleep for a nap and needed to put back to sleep several times in a 2-3 hour period, he was having full blown screaming fits at 2 in the morning. Like I said, it was bad.
He.Was.Sleep deprived. We just didn’t realize that was the problem.
Fast forward to two months postpartum for me, which is when I started feeling like I had a better grip on life with two little ones. I started seeing that something had to be done. I told Luis I was taking back over Piggie’s bedtime. He happily obliged. I noticed we had no routine for Piggie, so I declared that at 7pm every night, he would get a bath, he would have books read to him, he would have a nursing session, and then he would have some music playing while he fell asleep. For naps I was just going to do the nursing session and the music.
It’s been over a week now since I started this little routine. A few things we learned about us and him:
- We can’t let him cry. Even for 5 minutes…it kills us. And Piggie would cry after the lights went out because it was all new to him; he’s coslept and fallen asleep with someone since birth and never CIO. I thought I could do it since he’s 26 months old and that’d I’d be okay with just a couple minutes…no. I doubt Luis and I couldn’t let him cry at 26 years old. It’s just not our style I suppose.
- Darkening the room helps him sleep a lot longer and more sound.
- Making the room too dark throws him off; a nightlight is a must.
- The same bath-books-nursing routine every single night, no matter how tedious it feels, needs to be done.