Bedtime is the worst time of the night time for both parents and children. Whilst pregnant, I recall perusing through many articles about how to put your kids to bed, night time rituals, and the like. I also recall brushing these articles aside not realizing how pertinent they might actually be one day.
When my daughter was a newborn, she woke up every hour and a half to two hours. During these times, she would take a good hour to nurse. I would wait until she was in what I thought was a deep slumber to tip toe to our bedroom to put her back to sleep. One wrong move or creak of the floor, and she would wake.
Since the day she was born, Isabella has never been a deep sleeper. When my husband and I brought her home from the hospital, Isabella slept in her bassinet for less then two weeks. Around the week and a half mark, she started to scream when we would lay her down to bed. If we were lucky enough for Isabella to close her eyes, she would do so only to wake up twenty minutes later wailing until one of us swaddled her in our arms. Actually, she would cry until she found her way to into my arms. I somehow survived many, many nights of two hours or less of rest.
My husband, in his creative and infinite wisdom, discovered that our little one would doze off while in her baby swing. Desperate for some shuteye, my husband and I started to rely on the swing every night to rock Isabella to sleep.
Some nights, even the baby swing would not suffice. Those nights would be spent in the rocking chair in my arms ... all night. At least one of us got some sleep, and I can tell you it was sure not me. As time progressed and Isabella grew a little older, I became brave and decided she should finally spend the nights in her own bedroom. Isabella spent her first night in her crib when she was about 9 or 10 months old. As a first-time mother, I was paranoid about not being able to see my baby and make sure she was fine at any given moment, so she stayed in our room, right by my side up until then. I would frequently sit up to check on her, or put my cheek to her face until I felt her warm breath so I could rest assured that she was okay.
Relocating Isabella to her own private space seemed to work magic at first. Sure, it was hard to hear her cry for us the first few nights, but eventually she would doze off so we could rest our weary heads as well. The magic spell has somehow worn off and we are back to night time struggles with our little one. I dusted off the parenting articles on bedtime rituals that I once brushed aside and tried to put them into practice. Armed with my newly found knowledge, I was confident that the Morgan household would all be counting sheep in no time. Little did I realize that children do not always follow textbook rules. Bath, book, baby cup, badly sung lullaby ... done, done and done.
Why do I still have a tiny tot that refuses to go to sleep? Why do I still spend some nights from 11 p.m. till 3 a.m. in the rocking chair with my fussy daughter in my arms? Honestly, I cannot answer either of these questions. I think these questions and more about a baby's slumber habits are one of life's great mysteries. I can tell you that I dread bedtime as much as my daughter does. When I get Isabella ready for bed, she shakes her head "no", and I shake my head in a display of "no, not again".