the f word

Yesterday my pediatrician used the F-word.
She suggested that I ferberize my sweet baby girl.

Maybe it was the bags under my eyes or my disheveled appearance or the fact that I nodded off in the waiting room that tipped her off.
But Tess is not a good sleeper.

My kids couldn’t be any more different. My son started sleeping through the night at about 9 weeks. And was in his own crib in his own room at only 4 weeks. And we threw out the paci before he was a year old. I read Babywise (The baby sleeping bible back then) and although I did not follow those methods rigidly, I did implore some of the techniques. And for the most part they were successful. Now, he did ( and still does!) hate going to sleep……and will fight it with every once of his being….and sadly just needs less sleep than most kids. So more often than not, you might find me getting into bed before he does. And nap times, we mourned the loss of those way too early.

Tess on the other hand needs more sleep just like me. But at almost 18 months she rarely sleeps through the night. Around 8 o’clock every night ( and sometimes before) she gets cranky. Sometimes we go through the routine of pjs, milk, book after book after book, and prayers. But even if I skip those sweet steps when I lay her down and she rolls over snuggles up with whatever dolly or toy is in her boy and goes to sleep with out the slightest protest.
Until about 11:30.
And/or 2:30.
And sometimes even 4:30.
Keep in mind that my alarm goes off at 5:30 and the first bell rings at 7:05.
Sometimes giving her a pacifier will put her back to sleep.
Sometimes a quick snuggle and pat does the trick.
But more often then not she ends up somewhere around 3 am wedged between us, stealing my covers and slowly elbowing me off the bed.
I know what the books say.
Let her cry it out.
Or go back in every 5 minutes and check on her and then every 10 and then every 15 etc.
We did this with Owen.
And it worked.
Because after about 10-15 minutes of screaming he would get bored or tired and just go back to sleep.
And we have tried this dozens of times with Tess.
But after 15 minutes Tess is just getting warmed up.
And by then she has also woken up her brother.
And now we have 2 children seeking comfort and my covers in the middle of the night.

So we do what works….which is give her a paci. Give her snuggle and if all else fails or we are just too tired to go through steps one and two, we hand over our covers.

So yesterday the pediatrician suggested that we lose the paci. Because I have a red-headed baby (don’t know where it came from) with fair and sensitive skin and the pacifier has rubbed a raw chapped mark across her upper lip and cheeks that has been there for months despite all the Vasoline I lather on it.

And I know that the doctor is right…………but this paci is the only trick I have up my sleeve at 2 am. And about half the time it even works.

And plenty of friends give me advice about being consistent for a few weeks. And letting her cry and scream for hours in the am. And I know that they are also right. But being consistent also means consistently not sleeping. And dealing with a 4 year old who has been awoken and now suddenly wants a snack and to watch cartoons ( at 2 am).

And so I say to Dr. Ferber, that he is welcome to come visit my family over Spring Break and ferberize my sweet little thing ( who is anything but at 2 am) himself. And I hope he can make a mean snack and likes whatever cartoons come on in the middle of the night. And let the dog out and then back in again. And then I want him to try and wake up just as we were all finally getting back to sleep….and then go teach 170 high school juniors and seniors…and then go to soccer practice and the grocery store and the Y. Grade a few papers. Watch some TV. Play with legos. Play chase around the living room. And read the same board book over and over. And then do it all over again the next day and the next or however long it takes for his little method to work. Because I am getting tired just writing about it.

Sometimes parenting books offer good sound advice. And we will try to lose the paci over Spring Break. But I think I will keep my little girl un-ferberized. Because sometimes you just have to do what you can manage. And my favorite mornings are the ones I wake up next to only my husband and realize I was given the magical gift of uninterrupted sleep. But this morning I woke up next to a soft and squishy toddler in pink jammies beside me. And her little tuft of red hair was sticking up. And I don’t remember when she got to be so long or what time she ended up between us. As she snored softly, I thought this isn’t so bad either.


Corinne said...

The F word is forbidden in my house...

You just described Paige's sleeping. Except we lost the paci a month ago. She chewed through the last one we had, and it was getting nasty inside so we said bye bye to paci and didn't buy more. We lucked out in that she did great.

But her sleeping still sucks. With or without the paci. She's in our bed by 10 most nights because she won't go back to sleep in hers. It's ridiculous. But I keep thinking she won't need us to sleep when she goes off to college...

It took Fynn a LONG time to sleep through the night. So we're kind of used to it.... but it still stinks. Hang in there!!

Margie said...

Okay - you know Sarah didn't sleep through the night 'til 26 mos, right? To get through all those nights, I simply tossed in a bottle or sippy cup of milk and walked away.

Yes. I was afraid she would want it forever, that she would never go to sleep on her own, that I'd have a senior in high school still waking me up for milk at 4 am. But I Had To Sleep.

I tried letting her cry it out several times, which only worked until she got sick or we traveled. Then it was back to square one.

She's 3 now and sleeps soundly through the night, willingly gave up her own paci recently, and doesn't even drink much milk anymore. And she goes to bed early and easily.

All this is to say that sometimes we feel like we should shoehorn our kids into fitting a certain mold, when all we might need is a little time and patience.

The only other thing I can say is that I feel your pain. And that I support you.

Beth (and Eric) said...

When you are a "work outside of the home" Mother, I say, do whatever gets you the most sleep!!!