My toddler has been sleeping a bit better at night than she was a few weeks ago. But that comparison is a bit useless since a few weeks ago what she was doing at night cannot be accurately described as “sleeping.” It pretty much couldn’t get worse, so improvement was just about the only way to go.
There were a few nights of substantial improvement, about which I tried not to get carried away with visions of such unattainable feats like “sleeping through the night” and “puts herself to bed.” There were a few nights of backsliding into some of the familiar misery.
After a few weeks of horrible night after horrible night, I finally sent my husband in to do the middle-of-the-night routine, figuring it couldn’t get any worse. My daughter normally flips out if her dad goes in to get her at night instead of me. The first time I sent him in, she didn’t cry as much as I expected, partly, because I think she was just so exhausted. Then she slept for a couple hours. I was shocked. A couple hours at that point was like a miracle. So, I let him take over the middle-of-the-night wakeups. And she started sleeping longer. I still don’t quite understand it.
His theory is that she just wants me in there so much that given the choice of being in bed or being held/patted by me, she will demand the latter. However, when he’s in there, she is more content just to go back to bed. There have been a few nights where she’s obviously in some discomfort and having a hard to getting back to sleep or in a good position that she makes him stay in there quite a bit longer, but otherwise, none of this approaches what was going on a few weeks ago.
There are two small drawbacks to this that my daughter likes to call:
1. Bedtime: “Since this is the last time I’ll see you tonight, mom, I’m going to make it count by trying to consolidate all the infuriating writhing and scratching and pushing into this time that I can. Oh, also I’m gonna take my time.”
2. Morning: “Since I slept a whole REM cycle, I’m going to wake up at 6am because surely you all miss me. Where’s the cat?”
As all you parents surely know, when the morning wake-up time gets shoved back, the nap times get shoved back and then you have a kid who’s hitting dinner time like a brick through a window and is overtired for bed making it harder for them to get a good night’s sleep.
Sometimes it feels like progress is riding in a really loud horse. A horse that leave messes and eats the furniture and kicks holes in the walls. You can barely greet your long-awaited guest because you are too busy trying to contain the damage.