the following is a mainly true account. no names have been changed, because no one is presumed innocent.
8:00 pm – the bedtime ritual starts. clean diaper, jammies on. she is in agreement—“big gul bed!”
8:30 – daddy handles actual bedtime. prayers, tucked in. it begins.
8:35 – she’s up. back to bed.
8:40 – STOP TALKING AND GO TO SLEEP.
9:00 – late night walmart trip for emergency sneakers for harrison (field day tomorrow)
9:30 – guinevere calls our cells. are you coming home soon? elliot won’t stop crying. she won’t sleep.
10:00 – we return home. guinevere is asleep on the couch, elliot is tucked in next to her, bright eyed and watching doc mcstuffins.
10:05 – back to bed. goodnight.
10:06 – PLEASE STOP CRYING YOU’RE GOING TO WAKE UP YOUR SISTERS.
10:10-10:30 – 4 story books read. okay, night night. that’s it.
10:35 – PLEASE STOP CRYING.
10:45 – tiny footsteps coming down the hall. she’s carrying five books and crying. “i told” (translates to “i’m cold”, which really means “i’m hot”. she’s got the concept, a little hazy on the finer points.)
10:47 – back to bed.
10:55 – she WON’T STOP CRYING.
11:00 – bring her in our bed. 3 hours in and she’s won her first major skirmish.
11:01-11:30 – wide awake and talking. lay down, elliot. nigh-night, elliot. QUIET, elliot.
11:30 – shhh…i think she’s sleeping. so long as i lay here on my back next to her with my arm around her in such a way that guarantees a painful nights sleep for me. and don’t move. or breath.
1:30 am – she wakes up crying. for me. i’m right here next to you, elliot. she cries anyway. she finally settles when we are totally face to face, noses touching, her leg over me and her arm wrapped around my neck.
1:50 am – i think she’s sleeping again.
3:00 – she’s crying. again. i’ve dared to move my arm and try and turn on my back. NOT ACCEPTABLE.
4:30 – she’s hot. she’s mastered the maneuver where they lift their legs straight up then flop them down, pulling the blankets down with them. which means pulling the blankets off of us. i’m cold. and i can’t feel my arm anymore.
6:00 am – she’s awake. i can’t ignore her because clearly they’ve made some sort of evil pact and now the dog needs to go out. when i get back in bed she wants to talk.
6:10 am – i’ve settled her back into our 1:30 am position. go to sleep.
6:20 – i think she’s sleeping. her eyes are closed, her breathing deep
6:25 – i hear scary movie music in my head when her eyes suddenly pop open.“what dat noise, mommy?”
6:30 – that’s it. i’ve had enough. i’m tired and i’m turning over to my comfy spot. back to elliot, pillow between my legs, blankets pulled up. i’m a mountain. i’m unmovable. i’m tough.
6:31-6:40 – she cries.
6:41 – she turns into a cat. she climbs on me, meowing and pawing me. i’m mentally writing this blog post.
6:45 – i give in. i turn on the tv. please, for the love of all things sleep related—WATCH OCTONAUTS AND LET ME SLEEP.
8:00 – i wake. at some point we both fell back asleep. she’s sprawled across 70% of the bed like a capital “X” of toddler limbs.
i don’t have a “what to expect from your baby/toddler/school-age child/pre-teen/teen” book in my home library. i’m a little more granola and crunchy than that--more of a go-with-the-flow kinda parent, embracing each challenging week or growing week as they come. you’ll roll when you roll, walk when you walk, talk when you talk. no pressure. i’m the mom who says “man, you’ve been one miserable baby the last few days”, and suddenly notices a new tooth poking out. huh. that explains that.
but last week i found myself googling “sleep regression in 2 year old” at 2:30 in the morning because please PLEASE let this be a “thing” because if it’s a “thing” then she’ll grow out of this “thing” because i seriously CAN NOT TAKE IT MUCH LONGER.
this lady likes her sleep and i won’t apologize. i’m a champion sleeper. if napping was a sport i’d be olympic level. #truestory
and moonrise kingdom wasn’t bad movie, but watching it from 1am-3am with your wide awake 2 year old? not my idea of fun.
sometimes when we’re not sleeping we pretend to crochet with mommy’s narn.
anyway, turns out it is a “thing”. 4 months, somewhere between 8-10 months, 18 months and 24 months. bada bing—sleep regression.
now the truth is that if i googled “sleep regression in 33 month old great dane born on the east coast in a leap year” i’d probably get 1.67 million hits in .023 seconds. but i think i believe this one, and i’ll tell you why.
first, i read the description of the 24 month old sleep regression: multiple delay tactics for going to bed, wide awake late, waking up multiple times through the night, waking early, and the odd thing—napping well. check check check check. all of it. the bed that is anathema at night time? she can not WAIT to jump in at naptime…settles in and falls to sleep like it’s her job.
the second clincher: i can’t remember 4 months or somewhere between 8-10 months, but i counted backwards to 18 months and realized that’s right about the time we were in cape cod. when she WOULDN’T SLEEP. we thought maybe it was just being away from home? but she would wake in the middle of the night and scream her head off and flail around like she was possessed. this would go on for 15-20 minutes and nothing calmed her. hello 18 month sleep regression, you rotten jerk. i swear if you had been here you would have seen the lightbulb pop on over my head.
the thing is, i don’t know why this makes it better. but somehow it does. elliot has never been a good sleeper—in fact i’d say she’s the worst out of all five. and that's including harrison who would puke in his crib if i tried letting him cry it out. (future grown harrison: that was so gross. and i wish on you a child who does the same so you may know the grossness first hand) so knowing that this really is a “thing”, a phase she’s going to pass through, makes it a little easier to bear.
before The Great Sleep Regression of ‘13 it felt like we were winning. she was sleeping through the night in her big girl bed. she was happy to go in, book in hand, asleep within minutes, and came toddling in to my room around 7 each morning for some cuddles.
and it all changed on a dime.
and this is also how i know i’m done. because even though my uterus aches when i see a pregnant lady or hold a squishy little baby (samuel, i’m looking at you dude)…i also realize i’m so over the night time thing. i’m ready to sleep solid hours without being woken up by sleep regressions or peepee sheets or whatever. at least…that’s what i’m telling myself.
because deep down there’s still a part of me that just can’t help pulling e into bed with me when she comes in. she snuggles in and pretends to read her book “peetaboo! no, no, no i see you!”, oblivious to the fact that it’s almost midnight and she should have been asleep 3.5 hours ago. instead i sniff her up in all her chubby-wristed-toddler-ness and try to brand it on my memory. this feeling—of your baby who loves you completely wrapped up in your arms—is worth more than gold. or at least worth more than some uninterrupted sleep…