I’m not sure what the actual levels of Parent Hell are, but I am certain they exist. Wednesday Night will now forever be known as the night my daughter got so pissed that she (not to be crude) shit herself.
I have talked a bit (or a lot) about the issues that we have been having surrounding sleep and that, after swearing that we were never going to put our daughter or ourselves through methods like ‘crying it out’, we finally tried to end all of the crutches at once. We took away the night lights, the projection unit and shut the door. I stopped singing to her and rocking her. We were leaving her to cry and scream until she learned to sooth herself or passed out from exhaustion. We fully expected the first to be out of reach in the beginning and we were right.
For the last few months our routine has been almost the same, from the time she gets home to the time she falls asleep, the only changes or digression from the norm have been minute with the exception of nights that she was watched by my mother-in-law so my wife and I could go out or we would go out to dinner (which was not very often – 4 or 5 times a month). Okay we could probably maintain more of a constant until sleep is settled, but even though most days I find myself in a very anti-social mood, my wife has trouble relaxing at home after a hard day’s work and usually like to get out (shopping, dinner, etc.) – there are also some days when my claustrophobia overrides my agoraphobia and I absolutely have to get outside and I cannot or do not want to drive by myself.
On a normal weeknight my wife gets home around 5:45 pm and I have dinner ready. We eat as a family almost every night and usually around the dining room table. Then I clean up while mommy and baby play with toys. When I am through mommy backs off and I have my play time with my princess. We take a bath, eat a snack, drink a half glass of milk (or juice if she refuses the milk) and then brush our teeth. The little one cuddles with mommy and watches a few minutes of television until 8:00 pm when I pick up our daughter and she says goodnight to mommy and Frankie (our black miniature poodle). Monkey, baby and daddy go to her bedroom, turn on Froggie (a projection frog that is also a white noise machine) and shut the door about halfway – leaving it open about two and a half feet.
I begin singing as I walk to the crib, turning around so that I face the door and she lays her head on my shoulder. The sining starts off with Hush Little Baby and continues with Rock-a-bye Baby, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and You Are My Sunshine. At that point she lies down so that her head is cradled in the crook of my left arm and my right arm is cradling her bottom and her legs. I continue to sing as I acquire Blanket (her nighttime blanket – we personify things way too much) and cover her up with it. My rendition of Blue October‘s Blue Does comes next and is followed by two verses of Silent Night and the singing is wrapped up with two verses of Amazing Grace. If she is still awake (recently she has been as it has been taking me longer and longer to put her down which is what triggered our decision to correct our bedtime methods to benefit her in the long run) I slowly hum The Ants Go Marching In. There are times when she is still not asleep after my humming so I start over. I repeat until she has been asleep for five minutes when I gently lower her into her crib. Tiptoeing out the door I leave it ajar quite a bit and start my evening routine.
My wife and I usually watch a television show that has been DVR’d and then go to bed. Some nights I stay up to write a bit, but usually my writing is done during the day while she is at work so that I can spend time with her and we can cuddle in bed before we fall asleep. The baby usually wakes up between midnight and 1:00 am. We would bring her to our bed to let her fall asleep there. If she refused to go back to sleep we would get her up and lay on the couch while she glued herself to the couch, eyes wide and barely blinking as she absorbed all that is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We felt bad about doing that, but I have mentioned the reason before – my wife needs a few hours to survive work and I could not stay awake longer than 30 or so hours or I have a breakdown that I don’t recover from for a couple of days. So basically we cater to her every need and she was not learning to do anything on her own.
Sunday night I decided to start a change. My wife reluctantly agreed and after we let my daughter know that we were not far from her and that we loved her, we let her scream until she put herself to sleep. Two hours. Monday night she slept through the night. Tuesday was The Day Of The Twenty-Four Month Doctor Appointment which solidified our decision to change things and fast. That night I sung her to sleep one more time as I was having trouble coming to terms with the fact that I would no longer be rocking and singing my baby girl to sleep anymore. She slept through the night and we were hopeful. Wednesday night my wife and I were in agreement that we were going to let her put herself to sleep no matter what it took.
After following the routine I took a precious angel to bed. She asked for Froggy and I told her that he was on vacation. She didn’t fuss over that at all. I took her to her bed and she laid her head on my shoulder. I choked back the tears and pulled her forward, kissing her and telling her that I loved her very much. She smiled and I almost lost my nerve. I went to lay her in bed and she started crying that she wanted to lay on my shoulder. I couldn’t hold back the tears forever. I put her down and told her again that I loved her. I tried to explain that she had to go to sleep by herself, but she is two and I doubt that she understood much of it even though I tried to be as simple as possible. I turned away and the ear piercing screams began. I shut the door on my way out, muffling her cries and went to the couch to talk to her mommy.
We were both crying before long and tried to use the TV as a distraction. Yeah right. I attempted to rub her back, which she enjoyed, but that wasn’t enough a distraction for her and it wasn’t benefiting me at all. The screaming turned to cries which turned to silence. We were surprised, but hopeful. Then the crying started again. It was low and odd. I crept back to her door and listen. She was singing Hush Little Baby while she was crying. It was sad, pathetic, horrifying and I balled my eyes out. I broke down and opened the door. I told myself I was just going to assure her that we were still there and she didn’t need to worry about anything. The I love you was a given.
Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. I love you daddy. Lay on my shoulder. Daddy sing. Daddy.
I could not take it. My emotions and empathy have return recently and in a big way. I knelt down beside her crib and wrapped my arms around her. It took everything I had not to pick her up and rock her.
She stunk. She had gotten so worked up that she defecated in her pants. She had not done that since before she was a year old.
When we were through changing her diaper she went back to bed and I had to fight once more to not cradle her in my arms. I did start sining to her though. After two rounds of singing and no humming I kissed her, laid her back down and left while her screams resounded off my back until I shut the door, nearly running away from the terror.
Not ten minutes later my wie and I were standing outside her door listening to the silence. We slowly opened the door and found her sleeping standing up in her crib with her neck resting on the top of the bars. I rushed to her and laid her down – mommy stayed outside at my request. She opened her eyes and fussed, but I don’t think she really woke up. I handed her Monkey and Blanket while she tried to stand up. I laid her down and she continued to fuss but did not stand back up. I met my wife outside the room and we listened until we were sure she was out. Checking on her and finding her safe and in a deep sleep we finally went to bed and cried ourselves to sleep.
Tonight were are going to steel our nerves and do whatever it takes to stay strong and not cave in. I have even made a CD of me singing the songs so that we can put it on repeat to help her. It will be bad, but hopefully not overly so. God I hope I can make it through this without ending back in a bed at the local mental health facility.
- Rock-a-bye Baby Lullaby Song For Babies & Toddlers (parenting-success.com)
- Justin Furstenfeld/Blue October – Dingwalls, London Review (musicgetsmeby.wordpress.com)
- Hush, Little Baby Don’t You Cry (vargasbaby.com)
- Hush Little Baby… Before Mommy Dies of Sleep Deprivation (blogher.com)