About 6 months ago, Jill and I made a concerted effort to let the girls "cry it out" when falling asleep. "Cry it out" has different meanings to different parents. To us it means let them cry and check on them after about 15 minutes if one or both hasn't fallen asleep. Usually if one wasn't asleep within the first 15 minutes, she probably needed more milk or had a dirty diaper that needed to be changed. She would usually then fall asleep after being changed or eating. Over time, we started folding under the pressure. Sometimes, Jill or I would stay in the room for a while holding the crier, sometimes falling asleep in the rocking chair. Sometimes, we would let the baby sleep in our bed. And, sometimes, we would take the baby downstairs to play and get more tired. Each of these scenarios could last HOURS.
This past weekend, Jill and I endured so much crying, we had reached our limits. I told Jill to buy earplugs (partly joking), and after ensuring that the children were feeling well (no teething pain, gas, hunger, etc.), we let them "cry it out" again on Sunday night. Poppy fell asleep pretty quickly, and Olive needed a diaper change after about 15 minutes. Finally, all was quiet. Peaceful. Serene.
Then, last night came.
We got the girls ready for bed as usual. Warm bath, playtime, maybe a video, quiet time in nursery, bottle, and... an hour long tantrum, care of Poppy. Actually, she didn't even make it through the bottle before she started screaming. I think she had a sip. Jill was trying to hold her, but Poppy knows how to slip out of anyone's grip. She went limp, then stiff, then limp, then stiff. Finally, she fell onto the floor. I whispered to Jill (so as not to disrupt Olive who was drinking so nicely), "Let's switch babies. Maybe that will help." Wrong move. Poppy knows I have the patience of a saint, so she screamed even louder to try to rattle me. I took her and her bottle into the guest room. I tried everything to calm her down: rocking, walking, swaying, singing. She wouldn't give up her bottle, but also wouldn't drink it. So, after an hour, Jill tried to calm her down. Jill rocked her and moseyed into our bedroom where the TV happened to be on. Then, silence. Jill put Poppy on our bed, and Poppy just watched whatever was on and fell asleep in 20 minutes.
Was she crying for TV, or was it just a distraction at the right time and place? I felt so defeated. We really try to limit TV exposure with our kids, so I am baffled that she wanted it so badly.
So, if Poppy screams at lights out tonight, where do you think she's going to end up? I'm putting her right in her crib. It might sound cruel, but bedtime is bedtime. If they don't sleep, I don't sleep. If I don't sleep, it really affects my parenting. I can't play and interact with them as well as I otherwise could. We spent almost a year catering to their needs all night long. I know that it's part of having children, but there comes a time when it needs to change. Let's see how tonight goes, and if I have the time and energy tomorrow, you'll get an update!
Playing on the Stairs (Olive, Poppy)
"This is like a roller coaster!"