Sweet, sweet Declan.
Sweet, sweet, baby terrorist Declan.
In his first nine months of life, he had slept through the night a (scant) handful of times, but his typical MO had been getting up once or twice in a night. Neither Michael nor I were happy about it, but we were getting through. Some nights he'd get up more than twice, and we were less happy about that, but we weren't broken.
Last Friday night, Declan got up FIVE TIMES between 11 pm and 5:45 am, at which point he decided he was up for real. I'm a pretty poor sleeper myself, so I only caught snatches of sleep in there somewhere. I spent Saturday in a haze of tired, irritable funk.
Saturday night, he started wailing at 11 pm again and my heart fell. Due, probably, to our poor night's sleep the previous night, Michael didn't wake up right away. During that time before my husband would have gone lurching to Declan's crib, my thoughts raced around.
I heard my mom in my head, telling me, "If you're not training him, he's training you."
I thought about all the reasons I hadn't cracked down on him sooner: he's a twenty-four pound behemoth -- and didn't get that way by accident -- so he's probably hungry; his eczema is flared up really badly and I know from personal experience that the one sensation you can't sleep through is "itchy"; he's teething so hard; he's prone to night terrors like his sister, and I can't tell sometimes if he's having one or if he's just mad; he's such a lazy lump of a baby that he doesn't know how to get himself into a comfortable position; he has never so much as paused in his screaming during the fifteen-to-twenty minute periods of trying to wait him out before; he's going to wake Keira; Keira got up a lot too, for a while, but she stopped on her own.
I thought about whether any of that justified five wake-ups in a single seven-hour period. Every night for the rest of my life, potentially.
By the time Michael awoke, I had decided that unless we were reasonably sure this was a night terror, we were going to wait him out. We pulled up the video monitor feed and watched him for a while. During a night terror, he usually thrashes and tosses with his eyes shut tight, but this night he wasn't doing that. So we were more-than-reasonably sure that it wasn't a night terror.
He screamed, no lie, for at least ninety straight minutes. I almost had to physically restrain Michael from going to get him. He sounded so mad, bordering on panicky. I prayed for discernment, and for God to give me the strength to do this if it was the right thing.
He calmed himself a couple of times in that ninety minutes, but he would start up shrieking again within five minutes. I considered listening to an audiobook with headphones to drown him out, but ultimately rejected it because I felt I needed to listen in case he started to choke or something. I switched back and forth between Declan's camera feed and Keira's camera feed (#modernparenting), trying not to worry that Keira had pulled her covers up over her head in apparent, totally justified annoyance.
I was a nervous wreck. Michael was worse. At one point, he almost stormed out of our bedroom door to get Declan from his crib even as I told him he couldn't. I may have resorted to threats to get him to get back in bed and leave him alone. (I mean, maybe I did. I was sleep deprived so I can't be sure. ;))
Finally, he exhausted himself and went to sleep. Four hours later, he ramped up again and screamed for at least another hour. At 7 am when he started fussing, Michael brought him to me and I nursed him in bed and we dozed together for another hour.
Each night since it's gotten better. We haven't gotten him out of his crib since that Friday into Saturday overnight of terror. Last night, praise be to Jesus, he slept twelve hours without a peep.
The hardest part was the feeling that if I were just a better mother, a more patient mother, this wouldn't be necessary.
But ultimately, children want boundaries, and a night with five wakings wasn't any better for him than it was for me. The last few days he's been 200% happier. I've been 2000% happier.
Thanks be to God for that.