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April 15, 2011

As Promised, the Trainwreck.

Over the last few months, many of you have listened to my moaning and groaning over Twitter about the fact that my toddler now despises the very notion of sleep, something I prize above life itself. At eleven months old, my sweet, angelic child who slept all the way through the night suddenly became the little hellion who consistently wakes up TWO! or THREE! or FOUR! times every night. Because I'm currently brewing our second child and am mentally gearing up for three hours of sleep and midnight feedings, I was determined to get at least one full night of sleep before going into labor.

Enter our pediatrician, the man in the white coat who sits behind a desk and tells me exactly what needs to be done to help my child sleep at night. And then he utters those two fateful words that will undoubtedly be the death of both Jonathan and I, our loved ones, and everyone we've ever met- sleep training.

A few of you just threw up in your mouths reading those words. It's ok, I did too.

For the uninitiated, this parental rite of passage is deceptively simple; sleep training teaches your child to fall asleep independently and on a schedule. And then you sleep all the way through the night til your teenager starts breaking curfew, hallelujah, amen. But all of the parents who've tried to sleep train a toddler know exactly why I'm barely resisting the urge to lock myself in a closet til this phase is over. This whole experience has been about as pleasant as being dragged over a bed of nails. Repeatedly.

We kicked off the fun at bedtime on the ominous day one. Because our little man is in a toddler bed due to the fact that our next child will be exiting the birth canal shortly, we spent forty-five minutes playing the ever-entertaining game where the toddler climbed out of bed and I (pretending to be a parent who actually possesses an ounce of patience) put him back into the bed and stood outside of his room in the hallway. Although Nathaniel inherited his stubborn streak from his mother's side of the family, I managed to outlast him. WINNING!

Day two, on the other hand, was a complete and utter failure in the arena of parental fairness, JONATHAN. Thirty-four supposedly patient attempts later, I successfully placed the toddler down for a nap in the middle of the day. That same night? Jonathan had Nathaniel sleeping in less than FIVE MINUTES.  That was roughly around the same time that I vowed never to put our child to bed again.

Let him stay awake! And eat cake!

Jonathan disagreed with my newest parenting mantra, so we soldiered on to day three which dawned with blissful hope. My little boy slept in and toddled into mommy's room with a smile and a burning desire to play with the baby monitor. Naturally, I handed it right over because if my kid is going to sleep til 8:30, I willingly surrender any piece of electronic equipment I can find for his morning snacking pleasure.

Unfortunately, that bliss was not meant to last as the toddler caught a ten-minute nap on the way to visit daddy at the office. Our sunny, happy day quickly clouded over with a mix of thunderstorms and a vengeful toddler. As we pulled into our driveway after lunch, I realized we had doomed ourselves to the horrific fate of a sleepless afternoon. With Nathaniel doing his best impression of Lucifer complete with high-pitched shrieks and death spewing from his eyes, I attempted our naptime routine in vain. FOR AN HOUR.

That was when I raised the white flag. My patience was gone and my sanity shredded. I had nothing left to give except a few snuggles that I hoped would somehow make restitution for my angry tone earlier.

Since those first few days, we've continued trying to teach our child the most basic of bodily functions.  While our parental servitude is beginning to show some promise with longer stretches of sleep at night, the mere thought of the afternoon nap now elicits a Pavlovian response from me including dry heaves, sobbing, and the occasional spontaneous combustion. Anything to avoid that predictable hour (or more) of misery.

One can only hope that potty training won't be this hard.


  1. Oh, yuck. I slept in a chair next to my daughter's crib until she was almost 2. We tried sleep training, but she would throw up if she cried for longer than 3 minutes. Horrid. I had to pick: sleep in chair or clean up throw up. I chose the chair. I wish you luck!

  2. All I can say is that there are more than one 'sleep training' methods, hopefully you can find one that resonates with you.

    We used the 'Baby Whisperers Pick up/put down (PU/PD) method' which allows you to continue to go in and let your child know you are there for them, but not comfort them (rock/sway/sing/cuddle). We had a lot of success and I didn't feel like I had to listen to him scream for hours on end (poor you being pregnant and doing this)...We took the plunge when the boy was younger, but the 'Baby Whisperer solves all your problems' includes details for modifying the system once your child is al ittle older!! Best of luck Momma - you can do it!
    Amber :)