So things have been quiet round here for a while. By “round here”, I mean on the blog, as they have been less so in real life. Various things have been getting in the way of writing, but hopefully I might see the light at the end of the tunnel. Christmas holidays flew past, bearing tidings of great vomit and flu (yay), and Alt.D2 has learned to walk. None of us is safe now, take to the hills!
The whole “learning to walk” adventure has been accompanied by a crazy anti-bedtime thing that has been testing, to say the least. Oh my word, I wish she was still a thumb sucker! There is lots of anecdotal evidence on the web, to which I am now certainly able to add my share, pointing to sleep regression. Babies learning to do stuff find it so exciting/confusing that they literally can’t sleep. More to the point, they can’t allow their parents to do anything other than devote their entire evening, every evening for two months, to getting them off to sleep. If there was a sideways looking frowny face icon, I would be using it here. WHY, kiddo, just why? <breaks down and sobs>
I fear the effect this is having on my sanity! If my mother or mother-in-law are reading this, I think I should put a disclaimer on the bad language that is about to follow… Those who have seen Adam Mansbach’s book, creatively titled “Go the F***k to Sleep”, should know that it is all true. Every word of it is true. It doesn’t matter how in tune you are with your baby, or how well bonded you are, or how many different communication skills you have with them, there are some nights/weeks/months that you just want to yell the title of that book from the rooftops! Here’s Samuel L Jackson’s brilliant reading of the whole story:
You can feel his pain, can’t you?
The thing about children seems to be that if we can understand why something is happening, as the adult in the situation, it makes things easier. I decided I needed to do a bit of research on sleep regression, what it means, how we can cope with it in the AltHouse and when we might come out the other end (because seriously, this is starting to get old now!).
So three things seem to have happened here:
1. Suddenly, AltD2 takes about 3 hours each evening to get to sleep.
2. Suddenly, she will not allow AltFather to put her to bed.
3. Suddenly, she has undergone some massive developmental leaps. She can walk (and run now, truth be told – especially if I need to catch her!). She also has a few words, and a huge amount of emerging vocabulary, which she understands totally and expects me to be able to translate.
She’s now 17 months old, and turning into a toddler, rather than a baby (she will always be my baby girl, though, even when she’s 40). Her brain is making massive leaps and bounds every day. Today, I noticed she can nod and shake her head “yes” and “no”. When did she learn that? How did she learn that? AltD1 and I had a good giggle this afternoon testing out whether she was doing it on purpose or by fluke:
Me: Would you like to go outside? Nod
Me: Would you like to put the toy away now? Shakes head
AltD1: (Much more practical) Do you want to eat this? (offers cracker) Nod
AltD1: Do you want to go to bed? SHAKES HEAD. FROWNS.
AltD2: NO SISTER!
On purpose, I’d say.
I mentioned to a member of staff at our local baby clinic the problems that we were having at bedtime. Her advice (she was a Community Nursery Nurse, rather than a Health Visitor) was that I should go out every night for a week and leave AltFather to do the bedtime routine. “She has to learn.” she said.
Apparently, AltD2 is willful, and if we let her get her way by “giving in” on this one, she will push everyone around. Presumably for the rest of her life?!
I have to say, that I did the old “nod and smile and walk away” trick, although I felt judged, and more than a little sad that many parents would take this advice as read, without looking into it any further. There was no suggestion of how this might all affect AltD1, who would have to put herself to sleep while listening to her sister screaming as if she were being tortured. There was no discussion of developmental leaps and brain connections being made. There was no mention of separation anxiety, or the further damage that could be caused by me “abandoning” AltD2 at bedtime, for a week, leaving her to conclude that there was no point in crying because Mummy was truly gone and not coming back. That is the antithesis to our parenting style, and I wasn’t prepared to go down that route. That rod I am making for my own back is getting more and more elaborate by the day. One day I shall be able to use it to beat away the people who give me advice I don’t want.
I know I am frustrated, as is AltFather. I know that he is feeling rejected by his baby, who previously loved to snuggle to sleep on Daddy’s chest. I know that I am feeling stifled and unsupported – not intentionally so, but still. However, I suppose I also know that this too shall pass… E v e n t u a l l y…
A friend gave me a little plaque when AltD2 was born, which reads:
“Cleaning and scrubbing can wait til tomorrow,
For babies grow up, we’ve learned to our sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs, and dust go to sleep,
I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep”.
I’m trying to take this rough patch with the smooth, and hopefully we will all come out the other side well rested with new skills.