Just when you think disruptive sleep is long gone . . .
ZAP! Reality check. I mean, seriously, I told you in this post here that my daughter started sleeping through the night at one year old (literally, the night of her first birthday). Ok, yes, we have had a couple of hiccups along the way at 14 months and then again at 19 months, but I thought we were past disruptive toddler sleep. Until it happened again.
Approaching my daughter’s second birthday, I noticed she began to have what some might call “typical two-year-old fears” starting to happen. She started to fear adult strangers again, would startle if she heard a noise (the bathtub dripping, the house settling), and began to be afraid of thunder (we live in Atlanta, thunder is plentiful). One night as I was putting her to bed and all lights were off, she asked me about “that man” she had seen earlier in the day. “That man” was a repair person we had at the house that morning. I told her he was home with his family and they were all “night-night.”
Around 1:30 am, my daughter woke crying for me. I was startled and ran in to check on her. She was hysterical and would not let me put her down. She was clearly afraid and physically trembling, as though she had a bad dream (but not a night terror). I did my best to console her and after 30 minutes or so, put her back to bed and she fell asleep.
We were back to status quo for the next three nights, and BAM! It happened again! Only this time, she was refusing going back to bed. Every time I tried to lay her down, she lost it and began trembling with fear and crying, clenching to me. I had no idea what she was so afraid of. She said she wanted to go sleep with mommy in mommy’s room, and at 3:00 am, I relented. I put her in bed between us and she slept pretty soundly. (Strike one for me.)
The next night, she asked to come to bed before we could even lay her down in her own. I said no and moved forward with our routine. She cried off and on for a few minutes, with me watching her on the monitor. I went in, at one point, to console her and make sure there was nothing physically wrong with her. She was fine and calmed when she saw me, and asked to come to my room. I told her no and, when I left her room again, she began crying hysterically. Eventually, she fell asleep but did “sleep cry” once in the middle of the night.
Up until this point, she was taking her normal nap and not asking to come to my room every night. My wheels were turning, and I was looking for answers. I started to make the connection: it was when she was coming in contact with new, strange faces that she was having a rough night or two.
She was fine for a few more days, but lost it again one night when I was putting her to bed. At this point, we were roughly two weeks in on disruptive sleep. After asking to come to my bed, I said fine and put her in our bed. (Strike two for me, and it wasn’t even 3:00 am! I’m a repeat offender for mistakes, apparently.) So much for catching up on things that needed to be done around the house! I was sequestered to bed, too, because here’s the thing: she wasn’t going to sleep alone. She wanted to make sure I was right there next to her.
So here, again, she slept soundly in our bed. She slept through me physically moving her back to the middle several times because my poor 6’2″ muscular husband was totally wedged into a fraction of the bed. (I admit, I enjoyed it a little bit — ok, a LOT! He has been known to enjoy more than his fair share of the bed, and usually it is me wedged into 20% of the bed, while he enjoys the other 80%).
The next night I had my mind made up: NO WAY was she coming to my bed. My back hurt, my husband’s back hurt, and the only one that got any real sleep was my girl. I had my mind set and was ready for a fight, but she didn’t give me one. Not one peep. She went to sleep in her own bed as normal for the next couple of nights. Oh, but it doesn’t end there!
You guessed it, she did it again a few nights later. Surprise, surprise. I don’t even have to fill in the blanks, because you are much smarter than me, but I will anyway. She woke in the middle of the night and was refusing to sleep in her own bed again without a fight, and at 2:00 or 3:00 am, I don’t have much fight left in me. Yep, she ended up back in our bed . . . AGAIN. (Strike three for me! Call me a glutton for punishment.)
Are you following my mistakes here, people? We are a good 2 1/2 to 3 weeks in of Sleep Delirium 2016! Well it seemed like a feasible solution to pacify her at the time, I seem to have forgotten she was TWO! Doesn’t TWO stand for Toddler Work-Over (as in this definition here)?
I don’t doubt her fears, but all I did by taking her to my bed was reinforce those fears, as if her room wasn’t a safe place. Hindsight is giving me a swift kick right now. It’s so hard when you hear your child cry, especially in fear. All you want to do is fix it.
You know when I finally realized that it was less about fear and more about manipulation? When she started looking at the camera (while crying) and saying, “Mommy, come to me!” Or, “I think I made a poop, mommy.” (She didn’t.) Or, “Mommy, I need just a little bit of water.” I can thank my husband (sucker #2) for encouraging me to rush in . . . he totally had me convinced she was parched! She wasn’t. She took one tiny sip and started asking to come to bed in mommy’s room.
I finally started putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
Stay tuned. Tomorrow I will post about how I got her back on track. I promise, it was much easier than you might think!
How about you? Did you have sleep drama with your toddlers and if so, how long did it last and how did you handle it? Leave your comments below. I can’t wait to hear your stories!