I knew we were pretty much going to have to start over. After being on the road, after long days of driving, and having to stay in hotels and thus having people on the other sides of walls, it was just easier to have Ethan sleep with us in our bed than putting him in a portable crib and letting him cry himself to sleep. We tried it the first night out, but, even though we didn't get any complaints, we knew we'd be keeping other folks awake. So, he slept with us.
I might have said it before, but I kind of enjoy having him in the bed with us. There's just a kind of bonding that goes on. You roll over, and in the dim light, there's this little person, breathing slowly, maybe dreaming, and, while dreaming, sometime smiling and even laughing.
But, once we got back home, it was time to start the procedure over again. The first night, we put him to bed, and started The Sleep Lady
shuffle. This is a technique whereby you sit next to the crib to let the child know you are there, so they feel safe and fall asleep. The added benefit is that you can see your child, so you know he isn't being tortured, even though he sounds like it. The technique is as much about maintaining your own sanity as it is about getting the child to sleep on his own.
The first time Karen tried it, it worked pretty well, but then illness disrupted the cycle. So we started again, this time taking turns, so at least one of us was getting sleep. Then we went out of town.
After two weeks on the road, the shuffle was clearly not working. The problem was, Ethan could see us, he could hear us trying to soothe him, but what he couldn't understand was, "Hey, can't you hear me!? I'm unhappy! I want to be held! Pick me up!" and we wouldn't do it. So, that just made matters worse. I finally figured out it was better to just put him in the crib, turn out the lights, and leave the room.
I haven't verified if this is the source, but I've been told the "let 'em cry it out" method comes from Dr. Spock. According to Ethan's doctor, it only takes three nights, and then they will stop crying and go to sleep.
We were getting there. It was down to around five to ten minutes of bawling, then sleep would take over. But he's gotton big enough and strong enough now that he can pull himself up on the rails of the crib. This means we had to lower the mattress. This, in turn, means we have to start all over again. Nap times seem to play out the same way.
It seems to be easier on me than on Karen; I can tell it breaks her heart to just leave an upset, crying child alone in the semi-dark. It's been easier with me. The first night I took over the shuffle, Ethan screamed and cried for 45 minutes before I'd had enough. I just left the room, went to bed, and said out loud, "F**k it, he can cry 'til his toes are pruney." Karen laughed; she was supposed to be asleep, but wasn't. We talked about the situation, with her giving me the same bulls**t advice I had given her night after night (it didn't help that she giggled the whole time), until we both noticed that, Hey! he'd stopped crying and fallen asleep. I think that first night I went in to check on him eight or nine times, afraid he'd stopped breathing, curled up, and shed his mortal coil. And each time, he would be asleep, clutching his Turtle blanket, as peaceful as ever.
And yet, every morning he shows the resiliency of a rubber ball. If he wakes before we do (or rather, before we admit to ourselves that we are awake), he coos and plays with his fingers, toes, and Turtle, until either we go in and get him or he gets tired of wearing a 37 pound wet and/or dirty diaper and he starts to holler. On top of that, he is all smiles.
I just wish our bedtime ritual didn't include the crying (he's stopped now, he was doing a full lung press when I started writing this post). It has a similar effect of having your head smashed in a pair of cymbals.
Really, this is just a coincidence, but the Music in my head
, sung by Roy Orbison.