Things that go bump in the night

So, we’re tired. Have I mentioned that? That we’re tired? From not sleeping much and playing endless games of chase and coming up with answers to the questions, “Will I have to share it?” and “If I tell you ‘go away,’ what you going to do?” But I think mostly from the not sleeping much. Which makes you tired. And kind of incoherent.

Isaac has continued to be consistently inconsistent about sleep. I should mention here that the day after I wrote in here that Rachel and I resolved not to sleep train him, we decided to sleep train him. Enough with the rolling over onto his back and crying until somebody came to rescue him. He could bloody well learn how to sleep on his back (or cry trying, I punned, unfunnily, but that is what sleep deprivation does to you). Or so we decided one evening at about 9:30, after he woke up twice after being put down “for the night.”

So we marched upstairs. Rachel yanked out the pillows I had propped under Isaac’s mattress to — unsuccessfully — discourage him from rolling over, while I nursed him “one last time” in the rocking chair. Then we put our six-month old to bed and went to bed ourselves, bolstered by Dr. Richard Ferber’s assertion that, “most healthy full-term infants are sleeping through the night by three or four months of age. Certainly by six months all healthy babies can do so.”

It was surprisingly easy. When Isaac woke up, we went in to him at five minutes, then 10, then 15, of crying, a few times over the course of the night. The next night he slept seven and a half hours in a row. And things were pretty good for a while. Although he never went straight through from bedtime ’til wake-up time, he learned to sleep on his back and he woke up less often, often soothing himself back to sleep within a few minutes. For the first time in six months, I had to get out of bed only once during the night.

And then we took a trip to see family in Toronto, and Isaac caught Rhys’s bronchitis, and got his first tooth (!), and we had houseguests, and the sleep thing kind of deteriorated. As did we. I will spare you the details of the exhausted, sometimes heated, middle-of-of-the-night, negotiations that got Rachel and me to this spot (they involved words like “fuck” and “you”), but yesterday we agreed in great faith that it was time to let the baby cry again, in a somewhat more organized fashion than our current one.

In order to avoid further middle-of-of-the-night altercations, I mean, negotiations, we also decided that Rachel should sleep in the basement for the three or possibly four nights it would take to implement the sleep plan — which basically involves letting Isaac work it out on his own — and, hopefully, see results. Softie that she is, she gets a bit frantic when woken in the middle of the night to a crying baby, repeatedly. Me, I just get angry.

Which is the point. Why should I be angry at a baby who grins beatifically any time I walk into the room? Who takes my face so gently in his tiny hands so that he can try to eat my nose? Isaac and Rowan need parents who aren’t angry, who aren’t entirely exhausted, at least not all the time.

Further, Isaac and Rowan need their sleep. As do we. No one, including Isaac, wants to get up all through the night. We — more or less — have the skills to sleep through. He doesn’t, but he will. And if it involves a bit of crying, so be it.

So last night Rachel got out her sleeping bag and I got out my earplugs and we bid each other — and the boys — goodnight. And, honestly, I’m not exactly sure what happened after that. With the doors closed and my earplugs in, I didn’t hear much from Isaac. I know he cried a couple of times but I’m not sure when or for how long, and frankly — and kind of astonishingly — I didn’t really care. I went in, as planned, to nurse him at 4 a.m., and he woke up with Rhys around 6:30, happy as ever. Whereupon I phoned Rachel in the basement and told her to come on up and we all got on with our mornings.

And so it will go for the next two or three nights. Wish us luck.