Wednesday, January 05, 2005

What is it about sleep?

I swear - the first question that most people ask me when they meet Gracelin is, "Is she a good sleeper?". I always answer affirmatively. Yes! She is a good sleeper. And I feel really proud of that statement. I mean, she has been sleeping through the night since she was 5 weeks old. And she goes to sleep on her own. She still takes 3 daytime naps around 1-2 hours each, and sleeps around 12 hours per night.

We have a very structured bedtime routine. After dinner, she takes a well-deserved bath. Then, she gets a baby lotion massage and her jammies on. I take her into her room and read her a few books. When I notice her rubbing her eyes, we nurse for a few minutes, and then I lay her down in her crib. She'll look up at me and smile, and then drift peacefully off to sleep.

Well - that's how it's happened most nights - until the past week that is. Suddenly my "good little sleeper" has been replaced by devil-child. Nothing has changed with our bedtime routine. She doesn't appear to be sick, and I don't think she's getting any more teeth. But, something is wrong. As soon as I lay her down, instead of "drifting off peacefully to sleep" she wails like a Banshee. I'm not talking about crying - this is full-on ear-pearcing screeching.

I've tried everything to get sleep to happen. I've gone back in and rocked her, I've taken her bottles, I've given her Tylenol. I've even tried to "Ferberize" her, and she calms down when she hears me coming in. But as soon as she knows I'm leaving, her demonic nature returns. I know she's tired because she can barely even keep her eyes open. But, she fights going to sleep.
I'm almost convinced that it is psychological, because she is still sleeping just fine at day care. I think somehow she doesn't want me to leave her for the night, so she thinks that by prolonging things she'll spend more time with me.

Even knowing this, I did the unthinkable last night. I let her cry it out. I made sure her diaper was clean, she wasn't hungry, or in pain (as far as I could tell). And then I left the room. It took over an hour. At first, she wailed like a Banshee. But after a while, she calmed down, and it was more of an intermittant moan. Eventually, sleep won her over. This morning, she was her smiley, happy self, so I know that I didn't scar her for life. In all reality, I'm probably more scarred than her.

I want my "good little sleeper" back.

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