September 27, 2011

Making Lemonade

When Littlebit was a baby, she slept poorly.

We tried everything we could think of to get her to sleep, short of anything we thought was cruel, but Littlebit decided to sleep in her own time, as she does with all things.  She was 3.5 before she could fall asleep without  being sung to, snuggled and patted and 4 before she began to reliably sleep through the night.

Baby Bee is following in her sister’s footsteps, but as to not be undone, she’s probably worse.  She fights sleep more and is less predictable than Littlebit was at her age.  She never naps.  Except at the worst possible times.

And bed time?  It’s tough, man.  Baby Bee can be so sleepy she literally can not keep her eyes from rolling backward in her head, but she will still refuse to sleep.  She can be on sleep’s doorstep, mere inches from dreamland, when something or ANYTHING will wake her up and she’ll be on her way again.

Big Daddy and I are taking the same approach with Baby Bee that we did with Littlebit.  With love and support and consistency, Baby Bee will find her way into a peaceful sleeping pattern on her own.  Or, she’ll get old enough to do it herself.

And before you ask, yes, we’ve tried crying it out.  We’ve tried bed time rituals. We’ve darkened her room.  We’ve turned off distracting lights.  We’ve established routines and patterns and, like her sister, it doesn’t work.  This is our lot with kids (we won’t get into the once nightly wakings.  At 39 months).

A few nights ago, it was my turn to do bedtime and Baby Bee and I laid together in her bed.  She was very tired, but was fighting sleep as she is wont to do.  I gentley rubbed her hair back away from her face.  Probably a dozen times.  I’d stroke her hair back from her forehead and watched her eyelids grow heavy and her inky eyelashes settle onto her cheecks.

Bedtime is frustrating.  It’s hard.  It takes forever.  It eats up time when I could be doing <insert task here>.  But, I realized, in our long, protracted bedtimes, I was being given a gift.

Littlebit and Baby Bee.

I have spent countless hours, probably weeks worth, stroking little faces and whisper singing lullabyes.

I’ve measured the width of a back against my hand and the length of a forearm against my palm (If I lay my middle finger in the crook of Baby Bee’s elbow, her fingers end at the end of my palm). I’ve measured her body against mine (if she tucks her head into the crook of my elbow, my forearm reaches to her bum).

Bedtime is hard, but the dozens and dozens of quiet hours, tracing patterns on my babies backs is a gift I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.  Maybe I could have spent my time differently, but I’m not sure I could have spent it better.


The Littlest One, The Middlest 6 Replies to “Making Lemonade”


6 thoughts on “Making Lemonade

    Author’s gravatar

    Oh, I get this so much. My second son, especially, was terribly difficult to deal with as a baby, very needy and demanding every second of every day. And at the time sometimes it would seem overwhelming and frustrating. I look back, now, and think how special all that time way, and how never again will I be able to hold him for hours on end. *sigh*

      Author’s gravatar

      I’m glad someone else gets it.

      It seems, with the Princess, that I had all the time in the world to hold her and kind of soak her in. With the second two, it’s gotten harder to have that uninterrupted time. But bedtime? I have to carve out the time for them. I wish I was able to make that a priority easier during the day.

    Author’s gravatar

    Ah, sleep. For a long time, it was my favorite and least favorite subject. My kids are like yours. I didn’t think my first one would ever sleep, and then my MIL told me my husband didn’t sleep through the night until he was five years old. That terrified me. My two-year-old still wakes up at night a few times a week. It’s just kids, but some people look at you like you’re a failed parent or your kids are defective if you tell them that!

      Author’s gravatar

      I would encourage those people to come spend a few nights with my children. Actually, Littlebit has turned into a fantastic sleeper. She puts herself to sleep, at bed time, and sleeps through the night. Ever night. She never tries to get out of bed time. She’s tired. She goes balls to the wall from 7 a.m until 8 p.m. Then, she passes out.

      We tried everything with both girls. The only thing I wouldn’t do was the advice given to me by a Physician’s Assistant for my Pediatrician. SHe said we should put Littlebit to bed and let her cry and not come back. If she threw up or passed out, she’d be okay. That seemed cruel. I was exhausted and was willing to do anything but be cruel to her. Maybe that would have worked. IDK. I wasn’t willing, though.

    Author’s gravatar

    Couldn’t agree more. I remember nights when I would lay down with Henry until he fell asleep. And I treasure those quiet moments so deeply now. :)

      Author’s gravatar

      They’re precious, aren’t they? <3

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