Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Chicken Dance

I don't recommend playing chicken with your toddler, unfortunately I am not talking about some fun barnyard game where you teach your children about animals, I am talking about sleep training chicken.  A game that nobody wins....there is a lot of crying and very little sleep for everyone involved.

I am aware that my children are both, generally, really good sleepers (illness and teething aside) and have been since a really young age - but that doesn't exclude my right to complain about Jack. Chris and I have each had no more than four hours of sleep (or two consecutive hours) in the last three days because of the boy child.
A silent look at our nights as of late

Sunday night he woke up at 1AM famished....consumed over 12 ounces of milk and then went back to bed, woke up again at 3AM because he crapped his pants and then wouldn't go back to sleep.*  Monday at 2AM he drank back to back bottles followed by a two hour opera entitled, Mom & Dad Why Can't I Please Sleep In Your Bed?

Tuesday night we decided that we'd take matters into our own hands by feeding him a ton.  In the hours between 5:30pm and 8:30pm the boy ate: Four eight ounce bottles of whole milk (can you buy stock in homo milk?), 1/2 cup of sultana raisins, rice, strawberries, broccoli, chicken, oatmeal and arrowroot cookies.

How did he thank us for his bountiful evening feast?  By screaming, moaning and fussing from 2AM-6AM - straight.  Molly woke up briefly at 3AM to point at Jack's second empty bottle and yell, "MORE!" before we grabbed her a bottle of milk.  She then blissfully fell asleep - the only one able to tune her brother out completely - a skill that she will find helpful for the rest of her life.

We knew what Jack wanted, he wanted us to take him to bed with us, and it wasn't going to happen.  Instead Chris and I took our usual modified ferberization method of sleep training.  Light levels of "cry it out" have given us kids who generally fall asleep within 5-10 minutes after bed time or who play and talk to each other in their room before they fall asleep.  At night we get up with the crying child, solve their problem (hunger, diaper, comfort, etc.) and then put them back to bed.  The next time they start crying we wait 10 minutes, then we check in on them, comfort them, and extend it to 20 minutes, repeated until usually the child falls asleep.  By 5AM last night I put in ear plugs because I couldn't take it any more, no matter how much we did, he wouldn't stop.  Ear plugs won't block out the mama spidey sense making you VERY AWARE just how upset your child is, neither will sleeping on another floor - you can still hear them.  The most frustrating part is that there wasn't anything wrong with him.  He just wanted to play, and be in our bed beside us - because our bed is awesome, and comfortable.** 

I've been told that this could be the result a growth spurt, although if it goes on much longer I'm going to be fastening bottles around his crib like water bottles in a hamster cage.  I've been told that it could be a case of 18 month sleep regression (one month late, but this isn't that surprising because we were hit with something similar at 14 months) - apparently this is one of the more difficult sleep regression phases because it involves discipline and children developing their own free will.***  This can be tied into developmental milestones such as learning to talk, but suddenly hearing his little "Thank You" when I hand him yet another course in his nightly feast isn't cutting the mustard.  For this level of exhaustion I want to hear him speak Latin, or recite the periodic table, basically if you keep me up that long you need to show me something beyond the value of me having to splurge on MAC under-eye concealer.

If it is sleep transgression then we likely have another 11-42 days to go according to the experts.  If it's a growth spree then I'll be shopping the bargain bins looking for the next size in toddler pants any day now.  I don't like either option.  I prefer to think that he's just screwing with us, that's got to get boring before a fortnight passes and it won't cost us anything - beyond sleep and sanity.

*I get being hungry.  That's why we fed him - twice.  I get not wanting to sleep covered in feces, that's why we changed him.  It's the hours of screaming after that I have an issue with.
**You know what makes our bed super awesome?  That my son isn't in it kicking me in the chest and snoring loudly.  I want it to stay that way!
***Which is a good thing, but not at 3AM.

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