Monday, March 5, 2012

What Happens at Night

I'm mad at my daughter.  There are only so many accidental punches to the face and kicks to the stomach while co-sleeping one can handle before going completely crazy.  She still has a lingering cough left over from the croup. The doctor says this could go on for three weeks conclusively.  Our initial intent of making her more comfortable and allowing her to sleep with us  has now turned into a daily struggle of keeping her out of our bed.  We have had some good nights here and there.  She goes down as usual and one or two nights slept in her crib the whole time.  But as my arch enemy post nasal drip did to me as a child, it is now causing my daughter interrupted sleep unless she is propped up.  She stirs and coughs, with a whiny and pathetic "Oh God" in between breathes that make my husband and I sigh in unison.

Sunday night I was tired and stressing about the week ahead, finally nodding off around midnight.  At 3:30am I hear her cry and cough.  I go to her and she is inconsolable.  She is pointing, crying, face wet with tears and snot, and just wants to go "Inside!!"  I'm juggling her and Mickey as my frustration slowly makes me more awake and my lower back swells.  I walk in the living room and tell her calmly we are going to sit down.  This works for a few minutes and when she starts up again I put on the last five minutes of Fresh Beat Band to calm her down.  We do night time routine again complete with a reading of our favorite book which I have memorized and can recite while trying to rest my eyes.  I get her down and tip toe back to bed.  My husband rolls over and groggily tells me to take my glasses off but I know better.  I prop myself up on my mound of pillows and wait.

Ten minutes later she starts to whine and I know this can go one of two ways.  She will get herself back  down and my prayers to the gods of sleep will have been answered, or she will get up, more angry and awake than before and I will want to board the next train to Canada.  The unmuffled whining indicates she isn't trying to snuggle back into her pillow pet, but is likely standing and stomping her feet.  I give her another few minutes.  Just enough time to piss off the rude neighbors upstairs and find my slippers.

I pull out my bag of tricks again as I pick her up.  Storytime, sippy cup, milk, Fresh Beats and as a last resort, diaper change.  But now she has gotten a second wind and is laughing and pointing.
"Mommy, inside, INSIDE!"
I play dumb.  "We are inside."
She's not having it.  More crying ensues.
I keep saying, "Daddy is sleeping" in hopes my husband is listening and decodes this as "Stay in bed because if you come out here it will be worse." She arches her back which is like baby self defense. I let her slide out of my arms to the floor and she grabs my hand, pulling me towards my bedroom.  The cable box confirms this fiasco has gone on for an hour. My patience disappears, taking composure and empathy along with it. Now its just fatigue and anger left until sunrise.

I pick my daughter up, instruct her with a firm voice to "be quiet!", storm into my room and plop her down next to my husband.   I dissemble my pillow mound to make room and head to the kitchen for a cookie since I'm naturally hungry now that I've been up and expending energy.  I come back and she is chattering away.  My husband whispers to her softly to go to sleep.  After a few minutes of me trying to do the same, I lean towards her in the dark and in my new found Mom Voice say, "Do you want to go back into the crib?!"  I don't know, even care, if she understands cause and effect or ultimatums yet but I need to feel in charge for half  a second.   Her body is still and she is silent.  I am relieved for a moment but then she flops around again.  I get her into a head lock slash, cuddle and then she asks for milk.
"No more milk!!" I say through gritted teeth,  but get up after a few seconds when her request turns into screams.  I throw her the bottle and turn to the night stand.  My alarm will be going off in less than 50 minutes.

I'm so frazzled when my cell phone alarm goes off that I accidentally text someone instead of disarming it.  I'm late and wake up feeling worse than I did at 3:30am.  I curse myself knowing the one rule about getting up too close to the time your alarm goes off means a deeper sleep and in turn a sleep hangover.  I contemplate anyway I can call in sick or take a vacation day and fight back tears as I stagger to the bathroom.  My body feels like its both dragging and floating as I shower and get dressed.  My thoughts are jumbled as I try to make an omelet and toast.  I scarf down my food while emptying the dishwasher and throwing out the garbage.  Determined to control something in my environment amidst the chaos I feel.

My daughter is laying in bed with her feet in my husband's arm pit as I leave.  He is balancing on the edge of the bed while Mickey and an empty bottle take up my side.  I kiss them while they sleep, noting the angelic face of my daughter masking the nocturnal demon I was fighting hours ago.

The quarter mile walk to the train is cool and brisk.  Its a sunny day and I start to feel less crappy with each step though I work through all I have to do in my head until I'm back in bed.  I make the train with minutes to spare, find my seat and am already annoyed at the heat and people around me before we pull out of the station.

I look for my iPod and remember my daughter took it to use as a phone and it is now missing.  I close my eyes as my husband texts me, apologizing for a bad night.  I wonder what, if anything, we are doing wrong.  How when we go with our gut we feel it has negative affects later.  How everything we implement we feel like we have to later un-teach. We exchange I love yous as he sends me a picture. It's of the two of them snuggled in bed, smiling at the camera. I see the sleep in their eyes, the soft smile of my daughter with her rosy lips and as I sway with the movement of the train, somehow all is forgiven.

1 comment:

  1. We went through this with my youngest too. He is now almost three and still attempts to crawl in our bed about 7 am every morning. But stays in his own bed otherwise. You are right about everything that you do, you end up having to "un-teach". Once they get used to sleeping with you, they will want nothing else. Do you blame her? She gets the attention and the cuddling that she wants. And why wouldn't she want to wake up next to mommy and daddy in the morning. I wish I had an answer for you. Besides that the process of breaking her of this will be difficult. I had to go weeks with no sleep to break my son of it. It's worth it now. But I would wake up many times a night and sit next to his crib and rub his back as he cried himself to sleep or rock him back to sleep over and over and put him back in his own bed. I seemed to be awake more in the night than I was asleep. But now, as he goes to sleep in his own bed and I don't see him til the morning, I sleep soundly. Hang in there! There is no right or wrong way. You could just invest in a bigger bed! ;)

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