Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Battle of Sleepy Corner IV By Kate

Rosie hit that golden milestone of "sleeping through" the night at the age of thirteen months. Hoorah, I thought, we're there at last and I don't have to bother with control crying or anything upsetting like that to transform my formerly wakeful baby into a Good Sleeper.

Wrong. Of course.
Rosie continued to sleep through the night from that moment on....but only intermittently. Theo and I would have four or five uninterrupted nights followed by two or three night wakings then a quiet night then a fragmented one....and so it went. Rosie seldom woke more than once when she did wake in the night, but those wakings could last a gruelling two and half hours if we were really unlucky.

Eventually it got to the point when my resolve hardened. In Madrid, I'd been able to keep Theo relatively insulated from the night time shenanigans, but back in the UK, Rosie's bedroom is opposite ours and there's no escape. Now, a wakeful Rosie and a sleep-deprived me was something to which I had become accustomed, but living with a sleep-deprived Theo is insupportable. Something had to be done.

By eighteen months, both Theo and myself, while not enjoying the sound of our small daughter howling her eyes out about something or other, had also become reasonably inured to it. So we were ready to toughen up our stance on overnight waking.

Our plan was simple: I would offer no more comfort breast feeds (in any case, they had lost their effectiveness at getting Rosie back to sleep) or early morning snuggly breast feeds in our bed to buy us more time before having to get up. In fact, I would no longer tend to Rosie's overnight needs at all - Theo would take charge of resettling her until she had got the message that parental attention would be kindly but fleeting during the night. Rosie had to learn to roll over and get herself back to sleep.

So that's what we did. The first night involved about an hour and a half of on/off protesting on Rosie's part, with Theo making frequent trips into her room to soothe her, but at lengthening intervals. The next night she slept through. Since then, we've had maybe two or three other occasions when Rosie's needed attention overnight (including when she was in the throes of a cold) but otherwise, I'm happy to report - and with the minimum of angst - she is now generally sleeping through. And waking up later in the morning too, which is an unexpected bonus.

As a former post outlines, I have now ceased to offer the bedtime breastfeed as well and that change has also been accepted by Rosie without too much complaint. The need for subterfuge has thankfully passed and instead of pretending to leave the house at bedtime, I simply give Rosie a kiss good night and leave Theo to put her in her cot.

It all seems so simple and a non-parent would be forgiven for asking why it's such a big deal. All I can say in reply is after more than a year and a half of interrupted and foreshortened sleep the feeling of freshness and good humour that accompanies a half-decent bit of snooze cannot be understated. It really can't. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment