After posting about Sophie’s terrible sleep patterns, we decided we had to let her learn to put herself back to sleep on her own, whenever she wakes in the middle of the night. Apparently, according to all our sleep-books, everyone wakes every few hours at night. Most adults just toss their pillows, turn over, fall back asleep, and forget all about it by morning. Babies, on the other hand, yearn for whatever put them to sleep in the first place, which in Sophie’s case is usually rocking in the rocking-chair with me. She had to learn to put herself back to sleep like a big person. Getting up to soothe her six times in one night wasn’t doing any of us any good.
She is brilliant. We know this because, when she wakes at night and her crying doesn’t bring me running, she sometimes switches to giggling, to see if that will lure one of us. Then she tries her words: “Ma-maa, Ma-maaa, Ma-maa.” Usually, I hear her slowing down sleepily while she says that.
The real evidence of Sophie’s brilliance is that if she manages to stay awake, she’ll experiment, trying out other phrases that she thinks might lure one of us. “Daddy.” “Uh-oh. Uh-oh.” “Mamaa?” “Boo-boo. Baby boo-boo.” Baby Sophie is not actually experiencing a boo-boo injury or an uh-oh accident, of course. Sophie is simply cleverly attempting to see what words will best get our attention.
I had hoped for a clever daughter, but I’m already beginning to regret what I wished for.
We have stayed firm, for the past week, not going to her until we hear panic in her voice. And for six of the past seven nights, she has managed to make it through the night without us. Lately, her sheets aren’t even tangled in the morning. Lately, she doesn’t even stand up in her crib, just shifts, sighs a few gentle “Ma-maaa”s, and gets herself back to sleep. She wakes up in the morning more cheerful than ever.
Knock on wood. I hope this lasts.
The next step, I think, is weaning her from breast-feeding. I always insisted on not judging parents who breastfeed toddlers (up to 2 years, maybe two-and-a-half. Honestly, I did judge anyone who breast-fed a five-year-old, except in circumstances of dire emergency when there’s no other food available.) Anyway, Sophie is still a few months away from her second birthday, but I’m starting to want my body back to myself.
This evening, Sophie was playing with her Dad’s old cell-phone while breastfeeding, and, you see, that’s just a little weird. Picture it: a little person, pretending to talk on a cell-phone, but also sucking away, and occasionally accidentally banging that cell-phone on my bare chest. It’s just wrong, you see.
Maybe I’m secretly more judgemental than I thought I was. In any case, no longer breastfeeding Sophie in the middle of the night has been the first step. Second, I’ll stretch out the time between breastfeeding in the day. “Don’t offer, don’t refuse,” is the breastfeeder’s mantra for kids over age one, but not refusing with Sophie would mean feeding her every hour, sometimes — so I’m starting some gentle redirecting, giving her lots of other foods and other things to be interested in.
I think this will take some time to do gently, but it’s slightly less urgent than the sleep issues. For now, I can report, I have gotten to sleep through the night for almost a week. I accomplished more at work today than in a whole week of the sleep-deprived time. It feels good. I hope I haven’t jinxed it by posting about it here.