Last night was another one of those nights where Gem woke up every hour crying and wanting to nurse. She just cut 4 teeth at once a few weeks ago, and I think I can see a few more wanting to poke through? Not sure. But she's killing me. I've read that lack of sleep impairs you just as much as alcohol, and today I'm sure feeling it. Thank goodness Bear was home today.
So I'm re-reading The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. You can imagine how many times I've heard the advice "just leave her in her crib and let her cry, and she'll eventually learn to sleep." I tried that with my first child, and she didn't really cry all that much. Within three nights, she was sleeping through the night. "Piece of cake!" I thought. With my first child, I thought I had the parenting thing figured out and was doing a pretty awesome job.
Then my second child came along. I tried to parent her the same way I parented the first child. I learned lots of valuable lessons from that girl. First and foremost, I've learned to always trust my instinct over "the experts". I've learned that each child is different and there is no "one-size-fits-all" way to parent. I've learned to not give a rat's behind about what other people think...if it works for us and fits into our values, we stick with it. I've learned that I wasn't given children for my own enjoyment (all though I do enjoy them very much most of the time); I've been entrusted with an important job here. It's work. It's supposed to be work. And I've learned that leaving a child alone to cry does not always insure that they will eventually sleep through the night. Sometimes it destroys the trust they have in you, and sometimes it makes them fearful, whiney, and clingy children. At least I had enough sense to realize that Mojo needed more than what I was giving her, and I put "me" aside to give it to her. What Mojo needed was lots of closeness. We began co-sleeping, we all got more sleep, and Mojo's attitude during daytime hours remarkably improved.
Co-sleeping with my other children has probably given me less sleep than what I had with my first child...I could lay her down at 9pm and not hear a peep out of her until 7am. But I also believe that she was just a fluke and not the "norm." I also have come to realize that these days with little ones in my bed are so short-lived. It seems like just last week that I was sleep-deprived with Caveman, wondering when he would ever let me rest. I blinked my eyes, and now he sleeps all night in a room with his sister. I still have naptime with him, though, for just a little while longer. I cherish lying beside him and stroking his hair, listening to his breathing. And when Gem wakes up at night, though one part of me is groaning and just about to cry from exhaustion, I still take a moment to stroke her silky hair and try to memorize the way her eyelashes flutter against her chubby cheek.
So I'm not panicking that Gem has quit sleeping at night. I'm tired as all-get-out, but I've realized that in the big scheme of things, this is just a moment. I'll adapt, change some priorities, temporarily lower some standards, and do the best I can until it passes (we're only doing "basics" in our school today, starting after naptime). Following the suggestions in The Co-Cry Sleep Solution, my goal is to have Gem sleeping through the night before Thanksgiving. Without crying her precious little self to sleep.