Wednesday, March 23, 2011

no sleep without tears

Once upon a time, Charlotte would lie down willingly in her crib when she was tired and go to sleep without any fanfare or fuss. Her signals were clear- when she was tired, she'd rub her eyes or yawn. She'd sleep well and (usually) long. We were very very lucky, and we knew it.

Charlotte's a big girl now. Since she was about 10 months old, she has not gone to bed willingly. Not once. It all started when she had a fever and was teething. She stopped sleeping through the night for about 6 weeks, waking with screams and cries that convinced us she needed help getting back to dreamland. We held her and cuddled, nursed a bit, but invariably she'd reach the point where she seemed as miserable in our arms as in her crib. We finally realized she'd fall asleep faster in the crib, and would stay asleep if we didn't have to relocate her to the crib from our arms. So, when her second round of tears began, we'd place her gently in the crib and hastily exit the room. She would cry for a few minutes (sometimes very obviously FAKE tears, with dramatic pauses to listen for a response from us), then fall asleep. Sometimes, she'd go silent as soon as the door clicked shut (closed to keep the cats out of her room, a cat-free zone).

The last 4 weeks have taken nap and bedtime to a whole new level of drama. The crying and screaming have intensified, but she still falls silently asleep within about 3 minutes of the door closing. She knows when she's tired, but will not willingly lie down for nap or bedtime. The fact that she does calm herself and fall fairly quickly asleep has kept me sane, but I wish I knew how to help her enjoy going to sleep again. We have a routine that we always follow- read a few stories, sing a couple of songs, then wave goodnight to the mobile, the trees outside her window, the clock, the sun or moon. Some more cuddles and kisses, and then she starts her tantrum as soon as we approach the crib. We tried letting her stay awake longer, hoping that being more tired would eventually lead her to ask for bed. Overtired just made it worse.

My question for you- is this a phase? Did your child do anything similar? Is there a way to skip the drama and go straight to the sleeping peacefully part? My husband only witnesses this once each day, when we put Charlotte down for the night (she's back to sleeping from 7pm to 6:30 am, thankfully), so he doesn't think it's a problem. I witness this three times each day, and it's breaking my heart to see her so miserable. Three minutes feels like forever when my baby is wailing.


BB said...

I would like to hope that it is a phase! My daughter has not been a very good friends with sleep/naps! But, I have realized that she goes through phases of bad to worse to good... I would say - stay persistent with whatever you do... hopefully she will get over it.

IrishNYC said...

We've definitely had those phases. It seems like they've coincided with a growth spurt. She'll get through it. <3

vee said...

No solutions, just sympathy. Our boy has started doing this at bedtime (but not nap time) after going down without a murmur for 2 years! I'll be watching your comments with interest!