January 19, 2010

a dream come true

Well, as excited as I was yesterday, I didn't want to say anything lest I jinx it. Today, however, I'm confident enough to share the most exciting news I've had in quite some time:

Sleep has returned to the James household!

That's right kids, our old friend sleep is back. And I'm not talking about just an hour or two, or a measly little nap- but multiple hours of sleep all strung together into one uninterrupted stretch. I myself slept from a bit after 11 pm last night until 4:45 am. And I'm finally not too sleep-deprived to do the math, so I can tell you that that amounts to 5 hours and 45 minutes of blissful dream-filled sleep! (And that was just the beginning!)

Forgive my obsessive recounting, but I honestly haven't had more than two hours of sleep in a row since I can't remember when, it's been so long. But before Lincoln was born, for sure. And even in the last months of my pregnancy my bladder was shrunken to the size of a pea and I was too uncomfortable to sleep for longer than a couple of hours anyway. So seriously, it's been MONTHS!!

And before you get worried, Lincoln is still alive and well, and even still residing under our roof. It turns out all the kid needed was his own room and a little less meddling on the part of his mom, and the boy can sleep like a champ.

As many of you know, we've been co-sleeping/bedsharing with Lincoln since the night he was born. Although we had a crib and it was even assembled and waiting in Lincoln's nursery, he hadn't slept in it for even a few minutes. Ever. Until Sunday. Sunday, which came after Saturday, which was perhaps the Worst Night Ever. The worst night since Friday, that is, which was the worst night since Thursday. I think you get the idea... things were not going well.

So Sunday we bought some black-out curtain material for Lincoln's room, and we took all the miscellaneous junk out of the crib that Lincoln could choke on or tangle himself up in, and when it was bedtime we did all the usual things:

We gave him a bath, we read him some stories, we nursed and sang lullabies. We turned on the ocean noises, and we put him to bed.

Except this time, we put him in his crib in his bedroom instead of in the swing or the co-sleeper in our room. And I'm not going to lie, there was some crying. But honestly, that was mostly me. Lincoln was asleep in no time at all, and the best part of all was that he didn't wake up after only one hour. Or even after two hours. He went to sleep at 7:40 and he didn't wake up for hours.

We came upstairs to go to bed at 11, and Lincoln was still quiet. He slept through me dropping the baby tub in the bathtub right next to his room, and through David breaking a wine glass in the kitchen. He hadn't made a peep in so long that my meddlesome brain got the best of me and I went in at 11:20, just to make sure he was alive. He was not only alive, but quietly awake, just contently hanging out in his crib. He probably would have fallen asleep again on his own, but I picked him up and nursed him back to sleep, just in case. I put him back in his crib, expecting the worst, but he just rolled over and went back to sleep. He didn't wake up again until 4:45, and once again, a little nursing and he was right back out until 6:30, when I brought him back to bed with me (admitedly more for myself than him).

The same scenario repeated itself again last night, except we managed not to drop or break anything when we came upstairs, and I forced myself to leave well enough alone and didn't even go check on him. He rewarded us by sleeping all the way through until 4:45, and then after a snack he slept again until 7:35 when I brought him to bed with me and we snuggled and snoozed until 9.

And sadly, I can't even say that I wish someone would have just told us that it would be this easy to regain our sleep, because unfortunately, pretty much everyone had. I just assumed that there was no way that Lincoln could possibly sleep alone in his crib better than he slept with me: his source of nourishment, the one he turns to for comfort, and presumably his most favorite person in the whole world.

Every time someone suggested that we put him in a crib, or just let him cry a little bit, we would smile and say "Oh, that will never work for him". Obviously, since he wasn't sleeping well with all the interventions we were performing, he was just a bad sleeper. As per usual, I had read every book about baby sleep that I could get my hands on, and I thought we were doing everything we should. It would just take time, and maturity, and everything would work itself out. I kept telling myself that, and we kept waking up every hour and a half.

And all the books said that infant sleep is cyclical, and that it was normal for him to come in and out of sleep many times at night. And they all also said to listen carefully, and to make sure that we were only intervening when Lincoln actually needed us to, and that he would often be able to get back to sleep on his own. And I read that and I absorbed it, and yet I continued to meddle, all night long, night after night.

I was adamant that David's sleep be preserved, because he had to get up and go to work while I am fortunate enough to stay home and take care of Lincoln. And I really thought that the best and easiest place for Lincoln to sleep was right by my side, so I charged myself with the task of keeping his nighttime noise to a minimum. I was physically and mentally incapable of letting him stir or cry out in the night without getting involved. Always meddling.

I guess sometimes you just need to leave well enough alone. Apparently Lincoln is perfectly capable of sleeping on his back, un-swaddled, motionless in a crib in another room. He just needed the opportunity to try. Let it be a lesson to me, indeed.

And despite the two wonderful nights of sleep I've had so far, I admit that I am a little sad that sleeping with my little monkey didn't work out for us. There's nothing better than snuggling with a warm and sweet-smelling baby all night. Sure, his leaky diapers were kind of a drag, and I was spit up on more times than I care to recount. And lately, he'd taken to kicking me repeatedly in the night, and wiggling around a lot, but I don't care. I miss him anyway. I am glad that all three of us are sleeping so much better though, so I guess it's worth it.