This blog has been a long time coming.
If you’ve been a regular around here, you might have noticed that it’s been quite a while since I’ve bitched about Ronan’s sleeping habits. I haven’t written this post for a lot of reasons: for fear that it would jinx us, for fear of judgement, for fear of backlash.
In our sleep history, we’d gotten to the point where it was taking us an hour or more to get Ronan to fall asleep every night. And every nap time. One of us would sleep in his room with him on a mattress on the floor, as he continued to wake three or four times a night. Some of his wakings consisted merely of him sitting up and crying until we laid him back down again; he was tired enough to fall back asleep, but didn’t know how to do it himself.
Two Fridays ago, I was going through my regular ‘get Ronan to sleep’ ritual. It consisted of a bath, lotion, storytime, snuggles, and sleep. Only, the sleep part never really seemed to come along. This night, he was wired. So I threw my arm over him, effectively pinning him down, which usually worked to calm him. This night, it made him worse. He was thrashing around, and hit my head with his head – a headbutt, if you will. He stopped for a second, realized what had happened, and then cautiously threw his head towards mine again. Contact. He laughed. Then he rolled his head over to mine a little harder. CONTACT. He was headbutting me so hard it was making my eyes water, and I wanted him to stop. I pulled far enough away from him that he couldn’t hit me, and he started screaming.
Screaming, hitting, headbutting, fighting, all up until the point where I couldn’t take it anymore. It had been 13 whole months of bad sleep, difficult bedtimes, struggles and exhaustion… and I snapped. I really snapped. I started yelling at him at the top of my lungs. I am so not proud of it. I still get ashamed when I think about it. I was sobbing, hysterical and couldn’t stop.
“YOU HAVE TO SLEEP RONAN. YOU. HAVE. TO. SLEEP! THIS HAS TO STOP, I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE. YOU MAKE ME HATE YOU.”
And on and on until Brock came into the room and took Ronan from me. He told me everything was okay, and to calm down. He said he was sorry Ronan was being so difficult. He said he would put Ronan to bed, and for me to go get myself a glass of wine and relax. I left the room feeling harried and distraught. What are we supposed to do about this? I can’t continue to deal with this on a nightly basis. But at least tonight I didn’t have to do it, tonight Brock was going to put him to bed.
15 minutes later, Brock came out of the room with Ronan, shaking his head and said, “He’s pissing me off. This isn’t working. He’s not going to sleep.”
“I know, ” I said, “We can’t do this any more.”
We stood in silence for a moment facing each other. ”Do you want to put his crib back together and let him cry?” I finally asked.
“Only if you do.”
So, Brock and I spent half an hour putting Ronan’s crib back together. He was excited about it. He was crawling on the bars, and laughing as we screwed the mattress holder on its lowest setting. We stood it up, made up the mattress and slid it in place. We attached the bumper. We filled it with paci’s, a blanket and a lovey. This lovey:
(He picked it out himself.)
All the while, Ronan was having a grand old time. Brock chuckled and said, “You’re not going to enjoy this as much in a few minutes, buddy.”
We laid out the plan for each other. We hooked up the video monitor. And then we put him in his crib. Hugs, kisses, cuddles, lay down and goodnight. We love you. Then we leave.
He is not hurt, or sad, or hungry. He does not need anything… he just wants. He wants mom and dad, he wants us to be where we always are, what he has always known. He WANTS us to do what he’s used to. And I want to too, I want to SO badly. I want to go in, and wipe his tears, and lay next to him and tell him everything is fine, we will do this forever if we need to – but I can’t do it any more. This can’t possibly be worse than a mother yelling her hurt and anger and exhaustion into the face of her child.
I had support, text messages from a friend who’d done this herself. Help from afar that helped more than words can say. Each new message boulstering my courage and fighting off the desire to cave in. ”Stay patient, you’re doing great.” I couldn’t have done it with her.
The longest five minutes of my life. But I know he’s angry, and that helps. It’s the same as when I take my phone away – a protest cry. I cry with him. After five minutes, I go in. Hugs, kisses, cuddles. I love you, Ronan. You can do this. Go Ni’night. Lay down, and leave.
We set the timer, and every time it beeps, one of us goes in. This time, it’s Brock’s turn. Hugs, kisses, cuddles, I love you, lay down. ”This is really hard,” he says. I say, “It’s only been ten minutes. This could take up to two hours. Or more.”
When I go in, he stops crying. He signs, “Please, please!” at me, and it breaks my heart. I hate this, I hate every second of it. He wraps his arms around my neck, and wont let go. Hugs, kisses, cuddles, I love you, I’m sorry, you can do this. I love you. Lay down, and leave. He cries harder. Yells louder.
We trade back and forth, going in and coming back out. Feeling horrible, and not very hopeful. And then…
He stops crying.
Check the video monitor. He’s just sitting there. He picks up his paci, and puts it in his mouth. He is still hiccupping from crying… but he lays down. It has been twenty minutes, and he’s not crying. He sits up again, and makes some noise, and lays down again. He turns, and rolls, and shuffles. He sniffles and hiccups over and over. But he’s not crying.
Ten minutes later, he is sound asleep. I want to go in, and check him, hold him, make sure he’s okay. I can barely swallow the guilt in my throat. I feel like the worst mother in the world, the WORLD’S WORST MOTHER. Everything that I said I would NEVER do, and I did it. I have fought so adamantly against, I have avoided with all of my strength, I have done whatever possible to never get to this point, and it’s done. We made our son cry himself to sleep.
Only, that night, he slept until 3am. When he woke, I brought him a bottle, hugged, kissed, cuddled, and laid him down. And he slept until 8:30 in the morning.
ONE wake up.
Saturday night, he cried for five minutes, and Brock went in. Same routine, hug-kiss-cuddle, lay down. He cried for another three, and went to sleep
Sunday night, he didn’t cry. He laid down, took his paci and his lovey, and went to sleep.
It has been two weeks since we sleep trained, and I can hardly believe how much our life has changed. I don’t walk around in a haze of exhaustion. I don’t feel like every day is a struggle to stay awake. I have energy and the desire to do things. I have a son that knows how to put himself back to sleep.
I still have guilt. There will always be a part of me that wishes it didn’t turn out this way. I miss seeing him in my bed, and feeling him beside me. I hate knowing what it took. But it’s really, really hard to argue with sleep.
And now, we all sleep.