We enjoyed, for roughly 4 1/2 months long, full nights of silent slumber, and days with regular peaceful breaks as babies slept like perfect angels. We joked about how the time when they didn't sleep almost seemed like it didn't happen because they slept so perfectly and routinely now. When we laid them down there was the occasionaly crying, but, for the most part, naps and bedtime were easy.
During this time I would talk to other parents or read books about sleep habits and found consistently that there were problems connected with teething and mobility. Typically, babies start waking during the night & having trouble falling asleep during this time. Some parents reported to me that their children (anywhere between 10-15 months) were still waking during the night. Others told me how difficult it was re-training their children. "Not mine," I thought. Surely these other babies were not sleep-trained like mine. Surely my superior sleepers would never have a problem, and if they did, surely I had laid the foundation for a smooth and easy transition back. Ah, how big the fall that comes after pride!
I would occassionally have a pinging of knowledge that there was the possibility that we could have trouble...and I would pray for Ryan. Ryan was ALWAYS the one we had trouble with when it came to sleeping. Allie was always my angel sleeper - barely even needing sleep training...just needing her brother to be quiet. And so I would pray that Ryan would continue to be a deep sleeper so we wouldn't have to deal with these problems. My prayers were answered...just not in the way I wanted.
As you may remember, Allie was the first to gain mobility. It started simple, she would wake around 5 am and practice moving and playing in her crib. We didn't mind so much. She rarely woke Ryan, and she was usually quiet enough that Lucas and I were able to get a little more sleep before our usual 6 am start. Then she started moving and playing in her crib instead of taking a nap. Then teething started (and they got sick), and she started waking up during the night. No problem as it was only temporary (we assumed). Then she started being able to stand, and suddenly our sleeping routines changed to her quietly lying down and going to sleep to her standing and crying forever. Then we had a string of company and we traveled. Less willing to let her scream until she fell asleep (and not wanting her to wake anyone up during the night), we got very lenient about going in and rocking her...in a very short time we have had disastrous consequences.
Once again she is sick (and so I hesitate to let her cry for any amount of time as that triggers the coughing), and Lucas and I are in a hard place as she expects to be rocked to sleep EVERY time we put her down. Not only that, but she is impossible to transition to her bed once she is asleep, and so we spend an extra 5-20 minutes singing her to sleep and then trying to quietly sneak out of the room (she has ears like a cat!). If she awakens and discovers we are not there she starts screaming (and I mean SCREAMING), and does not stop until the whole process has been repeated again. This usually happens several times a night...It's even worse if Ryan happens to wake up (a rare occurrence, but it happens) at the same time that she wakes up (and if it happens, it ALWAYS coincides)...imagine going back and forth between rooms/babies rocking and soothing one, laying them down to go to the other, and then going back...
Now here's the thing. I KNOW this can't last forever. I KNOW that there are few (if any) teenagers who still require their parents rocking them to fall asleep. I KNOW this time is fleeting. But in the midst of a housefull of sickness (where there is another baby who is wanting some additional cuddling as well), when I am not feeling well, and when all of the preparation for a large move looms before me, I must confess I am not handling it well. In fact, my husband has bore the brunt of multiple melt-downs when Allie refused to sleep.
After the last one, he volunteered to go in and rock her (and hold her during the remainder of the nap-time), and let me have some time to myself. During this time I turned to the bloggy world and stumbled across this blog and this post. The post talks about her first fight with her husband in front of her children...while they are taking a long trip all cooped up in a van. In it she says, "I could feel the stress of the day rising up inside me, but I chose not to give it to God." I was so convicted. I allowed the stress of relatively minor situations not only affect me, but I exploded that stress all over my poor husband - who was trying to be helpful - in front of my poor, over-tired daughter. I was ungrateful and mean. And I didn't even think about the possibility of giving the stress to God. Not once. How awful that I should read that phrase on the blog and think, "what a novel idea!"
Then, as I was putting the twins to bed, I read a story out of the Jesus Storybook Bible (which we LOVE. If you don't have it buy it. Even if you don't have children...buy it for your nieces and nephews, or grandkids, or neighbor kids, or future kids, or yourself because it is fabulous!). It was the story of Jesus calming the storm, and after everything is quiet Jesus turns to his disciples and asks "Why were you scared? Did you forget who I am? Did you listen to your fears instead of me?" Again, I was convicted because when the babies are sick, I let my fears spin out of control and take me with them. I worry about everything. EVERYTHING. I worry that their sickness will turn into something really terrible. I worry that I'm not making the right decisions. I worry that something will happen in the middle of the night and I'll sleep through it. Whatever sleep I might get in between their middle-of-the-night bouts of illness is usually stolen from me as I lay in the dark plagued by my fears. I found myself almost in tears as I prayed for forgiveness for getting caught up in the storm around and me forgetting that I (and my babies) are in the hands of the God who created all things, who controls all things, who is stronger than all my fears.
I am partly writing this for documentation (yes, Allie, someday you will know that you caused many sleepless nights and long days), and partly to share my sleep struggles with other moms (because I know I'm not the only one), and to share how God has used unsuspecting sources to convict me of His power over all situations. We've been able to have some better days. Not because Allie is sleeping (she's most definitely NOT), but because I am trying to continually pray to God to give me the love and patience to deal with the circumstances. And I am reminding myself that these days are short. There will come a day, all too quickly, when my little girl will have no interest in snuggling up with me for a nap. And then I know I will look back longlingy on this time...well...parts of this time!
Note: Since I didn't have ANY pictures of Allie sleeping (although, not surprisingly, several of Ryan...) I decided to use pictures from tonight when BOTH babies woke up an hour after going to bed (and were not both asleep until 1 1/2 hrs. after that). Why? Because when life hands you lemons (a.k.a. 2 screaming, unhappy, unwilling-to-sleep babies) you make lemonade (a.k.a. use the opportunity as a photo shoot to have the perfect "in-theme" photos for an already written blog post). I'm probably a bad mommy for stopping to take pictures before trying to soothe them to sleep...but right now I'm too exhausted to care!