Holy Mother of the Universe, I was not prepared for how hard sleep training would be.
As of May 10th, Adelyn is two, and until now, her sleep schedule has been pretty routine. We finish dinner. She takes a shower and brushes her teeth, all before climbing into bed with me. I figured this wouldn’t be so bad, I read her books, and we both went to sleep before her father, my husband, Tyler, would take her into her room, and she would sleep there for the rest of the night.
This plan, though not perfect, worked 90% of the time. It also just fit with how ridged my sleep schedule must be to ensure I’d get enough sleep to make it through the day. I am lucky enough to have such an early shift that she only has to spend half a day in daycare, and my stepson does not need to spend any time in aftercare. But this schedule of rolling into work at 3 am slightly sleep-deprived, doesn’t leave much room for change.
But something did change recently. My husband got sick, highly contagious sick, so he slept in the office on the guest bed. This meant that Adelyn was no longer getting moved into her room at night. I thought nothing of it. She had also gotten sick and was waking up from a very aggressive cough and asking for water. To me, this all seemed to work out perfectly. I didn’t have to get up and leave the room to give her water. All I had to do was roll over and go back to sleep.
Little did I know this was going to break everything we had done with her up until now.
When Tyler was cleared as no longer contagious, he came to bed and tried to move Adelyn, but she woke up and cried. This wasn’t normal. This is the same baby that would sleep through me, vacuuming her room. The same baby that would stay asleep when being moved from bed to bed or even from her bed to the car seat. But this time, things were very different.
Tyler said, “Maybe we’ll leave her a little longer since she’s still sick.”
Adelyn had to be given a nebulizer twice a day, and in the morning, she was given oral medication. The next time Tyler tried to move Adelyn to her bed, she seemed to have what I could only describe as a panic attack when she woke up in her bed.
Her cries weren’t the normal disgruntled tears. She was full-blown screaming. When I got into her room, she was visibly shaking. I picked her up, and she was still trembling. I tried to put her back into her bed, but she was latched onto me. This is not my baby. She is not a hip baby. She does not hold on, though this night she did. She didn’t stop crying until she fell asleep on my shoulder. I tried to lay her down once her breathing had been regular for what I thought was a safe amount of time. Nope. Eyes open, tears falling, body shaking.
Tyler got out of bed. Since she’s an aggressive sleeper and attacks him, and he let her sleep next to me. We let her do this until the medication was finished. There were even a few times when she would wake up in my bed completely frightened.
When Friday finally came, I was exhausted. I woke up with every cough she made. Sometimes she coughed so hard that she would fart and wake herself, and she would be upset. Thankfully we had a follow-up appointment with the pediatrician. The cough was nearly gone, and she cleared her of the illness. This means we didn’t need the liquid medication anymore, but she asked how Adelyn was doing with the nebulizer. I said, “She’s doing as well as a nearly two-year-old would do, but something weird is going on.”
I explained everything to her, and the pediatrician said that we could end the nebulizer as well.
“Her anxiety might be coming from the nebulizer.” She informed me. “Sometimes it makes adults a bit shaky, but it looks to be manifesting stronger in her.”
I never would have expected the nebulizer to cause this kind of problem. I had taken it a few times before, and it was fine. Her brother nearly lived with the Darth Vader mask attached to his face for a year and never once had a reaction. But as she brought it up, it reminded me that we had just gone to the hospital for Tyler and his breathing. The doctor commented that his hands were shaking after he finished the breathing treatment, and she didn’t think he should continue unless his breathing got worse. It looks as though Adelyn’s little body amplified what Tyler had gone through.
We decided to let her sleep in our bed over the weekend to ensure that everything was out of her system. Monday came, and Tyler told me it was time for her to be out. The tiny savage had shoved him to the edge of the bed and kicked him one too many times. It was either him or the baby. So obviously, I picked the baby. What? Don’t be silly. Of course, I picked my husband.
That night he picked her up and moved her into her bed. She did wake up and cried a little, but she went back to sleep. About ten minutes after I left for work, she woke up and was crying again. He ended up bringing her into bed, letting her sleep next to him. As per usual, she was a sleep ninja and attacked. This horrible routine repeated until Wednesday, when he finally said no more.
“She’ll be two on Friday,” he reminded me. “It’s time she stays in bed.”
It broke my heart. I love my late-night snuggles. Lately, she’s been rolling over and sleeping on my chest. I feel bad because Tyler just gets assaulted in his sleep, and I get adorable snuggles with the occasional foot to the head.
Wednesday night was awful. Tyler moved her, and she woke up. He spent an hour trying to get her back to bed. For a half-hour, she slept and then woke again. This time I woke up and stayed up. She was awake from midnight until I left for work at 2:30 in the morning. Her crying tore at me. I would leave her and storm in my room, pissed that my baby was upset. I blamed Tyler for making her feel alone and broken. I didn’t care about sleep anymore, so I stormed back into her room and laid on the floor next to her bed, and she fell asleep. If I moved, she woke up and cried more. Tyler finally came in and said that she could come into bed. So for 30 mins, I got to sleep before getting up again and going to work.
Being this exhausted was probably the best thing for me. When I picked Adelyn up from daycare, she wasn’t napping. She didn’t nap on the car ride home though she kept yawning. When we got home, I changed her and told her it was time for night nights.
“Mommy’s bed?” She asked with a big shit-eating grin.
“No, in Adelyn’s bed.” I lifted her up, and she whined.
“No, night nights.” She cried.
I laid her down, gave her a kiss, and closed the door. She cried, but this time not as angrily as last night. I didn’t care. I needed a nap so I could function for the rest of the day. I watched her on the cam wander around the room, fake crying, hiding in the closet until she sat on her bed and started to really cry. That’s when I found that our baby monitor has a mic and a speaker.
“Adelyn lay down.” She heard me say, and she got quiet. “It’s night nights.”
She looked around the room and let out a fake cry.
“No fake crying,” I told her. “It’s night nights.”
Totally confused, she laid down and still cried a little, but she laid down. I was asleep before she probably was.
So that night, we did our regular routine. She ate dinner, took a shower, brushed her teeth, and then got her pajamas on. But this time, we sat on our fluffy rug and read books. She kept bringing me new ones from her bookcase because she didn’t want to go night night yet. Finally, after the fifth book (actually the third reading of Tangled), I told her it was bedtime.
“It’s time for night nights,” I told her, picking her up.
She smiled and pointed to her door to leave. “Mommy’s bed?”
“No, not mommy’s bed, Adelyn’s bed.” I laid her down in her bed, and she started to cry. I kissed the top of her head and turned on her owl night light, and closed the door.
After a bit of hiding in the closet and rolling around, she laid down and went to sleep.
Looks like night one of being a big girl has been a success.