Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sleep Training

Now, I know every mother thinks that her child is a genius.  It's how we are supposed to think.  My child's turds look like Degas' ballerina sculptures and her finger paintings are surely destined for an exhibit at the MOMA.  Everything my child says from "Butt cracks don't belong on a bed" to "I can't go swimming without my mermaid tale" are witticisms worthy of some wisecracking, four-eyed child actor on a new ABC family sitcom.  Obviously, I adore my child.  Clearly, she is a genius destined for a Rhodes scholarship or an internship on the moon.  But sometimes, Bean exceeds my own expectations.  Bean is so smart that she took it upon herself to sleep train her parents.  Genius, right?

Bean is helping us prepare for the birth of HoteTote by waking up repeatedly throughout the night.  How smart is she?  She knows that those first few months home with a newborn are difficult, largely from the lack of sleep.  So instead of getting slapped in the face with no sleep AND a newborn baby, Bean has started waking up every few hours so we can practice being zombies.  Who needs 8 hours of sleep anyway?  Not us.  We are fully functioning with just a few hours of sleep a night, plus we get the added bonus of getting kicked, slept on, and punched throughout the night.  It's a like a baby boot camp that takes place right in our bed.

Bean's sleep training started a little over a month ago.  She started having nightmares.  Only her nightmares bordered on her having Baby Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.  She'd wake up screaming at 1AM, every night crying  "I want to flush the toilet all by myself."  No amount of rocking or singing could calm her down until we quietly walked her to the bathroom to flush the toilet.  Then she'd fitfully go back to sleep, only to wake up an hour or two later to scream about having to wash her hands.  Again, we'd take to her to wash her hands just so she'd go back to sleep.   This time, she'd only last a few minutes before I'd find her lying down in the hallway outside our bedroom.  She'd lay there on the floor quietly stroking her Bear or worse, she'd sit with her back leaning against the baby gate at the top of the stairs.  Waking up to find Bean lying on the floor is honestly one of the saddest things you'll ever see.  It pulls at your heartstrings and you are forced, despite any promise that you made to yourself pre-baby about not letting your kids sleep with you to scoop that little girl up and into your bed.  She seals the deal by softly murmuring "I love you Mommy" into my ear.  Heart melted (or manipulated), I roll over and prepare for another crappy night of sleep.

That's when the real sleep training starts.  Her screaming was just the prelude.  It takes real skill to be able to fall asleep with a 30 pound toddler sleeping on your head.  Some nights, she'll lay perfectly still between J and me.  Other nights, it's like a cage fight and she rotates 180 degrees, kicking and jabbing the whole time.  Still, I manage some sleep between the Bean and my bladder.  Some, not a lot.

And so dear Bean, I thank you.  I have been spoiled these last few years with more sleep than I knew what to with.  You've taught me once again, that sleep is overrated.  I can function with very few hours of sleep with little ill effects.  Sure, I might look like a crazed Medusa-mom with bags under my eyes wearing clothes that don't match but I challenge you to find a mom that doesn't look like that some days.  Hote Tote's room might not be painted.  We might not have a mattress or a rug or window coverings, but thanks to Bean, we  have learned what we are capable of with little to no sleep.  In spite of the this, I do maintain that Bean might be a genius...then again, I haven't slept very well in a month so I might not be thinking clearly.

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