You’re seventeen months old. Your sleep is craptacular. I do not enjoy the night wakings at the moment. At all. I’m sleepy. I’m cranky. You’re sleepy. You’re cranky. This stage of the sleep journey feels like nothing more than abysmal failure. All the ways that I get you to sleep are taking longer and not working anymore and you’re waking up a lot because of your teeth.
Some of my friends who were on the Wait it Out journey with me have crossed over to modified sleep training, night weaning, CIO. And their reasons sound a lot like my life right now. I’m tired. Some nights you wake up every hour. I’m tired. I want sleep. I’m tired. Mostly I’m tired.
I also want you to speak a little faster because it’s really a bit grating on my nerves when you whine instead of talking. And the potty training thing is so tempting because you can take off your diaper now and sit on the potty, and you’re using it sometimes when you pee.
I guess the sleep thing feels like it can be forced, like it SHOULD be forced. Like you’re so close I can just train you now and have sleep. SLEEP. Real deep sleep. Uninterrupted. Blissful.
You just went down for a nap. You were nursing and squirming and when I see you through the words of others I think “She’s resisting sleep”. But your eyes were closed. You were pushing away at me and biting down and so I kissed your forehead and rolled you off of me and you closed your eyes and fell asleep.
And at night you are crawling around and laying your head down and RESISTING SLEEP until you find your comfortable spot and fall asleep or try to fall asleep before you whine and want to nurse again. If you weren’t resisting sleep then you’d GO TO SLEEP WHEN I’M TRYING TO PUT YOU TO SLEEP by bouncing you or nursing you.
This is the transition between me doing it for you and your doing it yourself. You’re resisting when I try to do it for you, because you’re trying to learn how to do it yourself. And you’re going back and forth between trying on your own and accepting my help.
It sucks because it’s out of my control. I could grab control back by saying “Okay, it’s time for her to learn” and refusing to let you come back for comfort once you’ve crawled away on your own. I could just let you scream for a few nights and it would be over. Right now chances are pretty good that since you’re actively trying to fall asleep that you’d do just fine and I could let you scream a few nights and be done.
And have sleep.
Oh the sleep. How I want the sleep.
And you, you want your sleep too. You’re tired. The tiredness that you’re feeling is what’s driving you to learn.
With your brother he went through a period of “NO” before he hit “I DO IT MYSELF” where he learned that he couldn’t just avoid sleep completely. Once he learned that lesson he quickly decided that he would put himself to bed.
You.. You’re different. You want to do it already, and you’re resisting not because you don’t want to go to sleep, but because you want to learn how to do it all on your own. That’s why you pop off and squirm around and put your head down on the pillow and try so hard well before you’re ready. Then you crawl back to nurse. That’s why you squirm around for a minute before you start to fuss, and fuss for a while before you signal, and wake yourself up a lot in the process and need more help to get back to sleep.
Because you’re trying.
And it looks like regression because you used to accept a back patting to help you get back to sleep. Now you get upset by it because YOU WANT TO DO IT YOURSELF. But you can’t just yet. It looks like regression because you’re waking up between sleep cycles again, but that’s because it’s when you learn best and you’re trying to learn.
I see it. I do. And I’ll keep waiting it out. I do hope that you learn soon. It’s getting a little bit exhausting when you wake me up every hour to practice falling back to sleep.
I’m sleepy. You are too.
This is what learning looks like. Back and forth and back and forth and FULL STEAM BACKWARDS before it’s full steam ahead.
You’re seventeen months. Your brothers wouldn’t sleep independently before two. I see you sleeping independently before then. You’ve already randomly fallen asleep in ways that we have not anticipated or guessed at.
I can wait it out. No rush. Sleep will come. This is yours to learn, your success to own. And just like I’ll be there for you one day when you’re needing guidance to get through a difficult project for school.. I’ll be here for you now. Not to do it for you, but to support you while you work towards your goals.
I’m not going to rush in and finish it for you just because I can see how it might be done a little faster. I see how hard you’re working at this. I trust you, just as you’ve trusted me these past seventeen months. You’re finding that safe and quiet place inside you where your mind can curl up comfy and quiet as it’s time to sleep. I’ll wait and let you find that place peacefully so that you can savor that a-hah moment where it all clicks into place.
I’ve waited this long, I can wait a little longer.
(FYI the reasons behind the changes that my friends have made are pretty excellent. This letter isn’t about their reasons or their choices. It’s about processing their reasons, seeing if they apply to my life, and considering what if anything I should change/want to change about what I’m doing. If their reasons were terrible I wouldn’t have anything to process for myself. )