Sunday, January 9, 2011

Turning 2 = Refusal to Sleep?

Happy New Year!  Henry looks peaceful, right?  WRONG.  

Ugh.  Our good little sleeper has disappeared and what remains is a screaming, stomping in place, throwing things, refusing to go to bed, shouting "Momma" at the top of his lungs, toddler.  Once upon a time (from age 5 months through 2 years), Henry was the easiest child to put to bed - not counting illness and travel.  We had a great routine:  diaper, pj's, hold baggie (his old sleepsack that he now holds to his nose and smells like it's crack cocaine - while sucking his thumb), sit in lap, read 3-5 books, get in the crib, lie down by himself, suck thumb, close eyes, sing a song, lights out and he would roll over.  He never made a peep.  And he would be quiet until a reasonable hour in the morning.  Bedtime was one of my favorite times of day.  Oh I really miss those days.  I really miss them.  And I know that a lot of people have NEVER had a good night's sleep since their children were born, but I've had a taste of the good life, and I WANT IT BACK!

Suddenly, just before his 2nd birthday (just after Christmas), he started to protest nap time and bedtime.  For the past week, the second I turn to leave the room he frantically stomps his feet and lets out blood curdling screams.  He shouts "Momma, Mommy, Momma" over and over again.  I can hear him gasping for air.  He's started having night wakings at 2, 3, and 4 am and will scream for hours on end.  Henry is currently screaming and has been screaming for the past hour and a half.  We concocted theories about nightmares (put in a night light), being over-tired and off-schedule from the holidays (put him down early), too many lights (turned off the lights), etc.  Nothing has worked.  Our pediatrician says change in sleep patterns is common at this age, and that Henry is now more willful than ever.  We have to stand firm and be even more consistent with sleep training.  ARGH.  

I'm the first to admit that it's SO much easier to hold him and rock him back to sleep.  He immediately quiets when I re-enter the room.  He snuggles up into my neck and I can feel his body instantly unclench.  Picking him up during a screaming fit seemed to work a few times to get him back to sleep at 4am.  But I also suspect that the nights we gave in to the screaming, reinforced his resolve to scream longer and harder.  And I know it's going to be 10 times harder to get him back on track.  

What am I going to do now?  I'm going to start from the beginning.  Chart the time he starts crying, and chart when I go in to comfort him (without holding him).  Chart the time he quiets.  The chart keeps me disciplined.  And I can only HOPE that sleep training works as well now as it did when he was 4 months old.  It is MUCH more difficult to sleep train at 2 than it was at 4 months, but I know it worked in the past with him, so if I want to sleep ever again ... I have to stick to my guns.  I suppose if anything, this is preparing us for baby boy #2, and reminds us that we have to stand firm with sleep training in order for it to be effective.  

Brutal.  And 2 hours later - he's quiet.  PHEW.

Note:  I wrote this post 2 days ago, and Henry has slept through both nights - with the exception of a brief 1 minute cry at 3am each night.  Sleep training is working!  

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