When Austin was Alex's age, he was a champion sleeper. He was a terrible napper, but almost without fail, he would go to bed at 8:30 p.m. and sleep straight through until 7 or 7:30 a.m. the next day.
I say almost because around 18 months he started having nightmares from time to time. These resulted in long, sleepless nights for all of us and usually ended with me sleeping in his rocking chair or on his floor until he fell asleep again.
But (thankfully) nightmares didn't happen often and we all had good night sleeps.
Then baby number 2 (Alex, of course) came along. And along with that came the expected sleepless nights. Things were no better or no worse than most new parents go through and as she got older, she slowly cut down the number of times she woke until she was sleeping through the night just as Austin had.
But somehow in the last few months, that stopped. I don't even know when it all fell apart; because it feels like forever. She's 20 months old and I don't remember the last time Ryan and I both slept through the night.
Because, you see, there are the odd mornings that I wake up and realize that I hadn't woken up once all night and that leads me to ask Ryan if he'd been up at all. Sure enough, the answer is almost always yes -- I had just been so tired that I didn't hear her cry.
The problem is, is that I honestly don't know how to fix this non-sleeping problem. Because she wakes for a variety of reasons. Sometimes she's cold because she's kicked off all her blankets (even though she now sleeps in fleece sleepers, she still gets cold); sometimes she's moved around so much in her sleep that she's stuck in a corner of the crib; sometimes she's sitting up and confused as to why it's still dark in her room (thankfully, all she needs to be told is that it's still night time and she lies back down); sometimes she wants her soother and can't find it; sometimes she wants her soother and can't be bothered to open her eyes to find it; sometimes there's no reason at all that I can figure out; and sometimes she has nightmares.
Aside from the nightmares, all of the reasons for her waking and needing assistance mean that I'm out of bed for no more than 2 minutes -- and that includes the time I take to stop at the bathroom. So it's not like the old baby days where getting up means a 30 to 45 minute chunk of your night is gone. But it's still a sleep distruption. And it's not uncommon for the get up, see Alex, go to the bathroom, go back to bed routine to happen two or three times a night.
That means some nights, I'm only sleeping in two to three hour blocks. And after months of this, it's taking a toll.
The nightmares are a completely different story. I can deal with this -- although they mean I'm up for a much longer chunk of time. The other night, she woke up screaming bloody murder, and although I don't know what she dreamed about (because she can't tell me yet), she was terrified to go back to sleep and would get very upset every time I went to leave the room. So I stayed there on her floor while she lay awake for about an hour and a half. When she finally passed out, I tiptoed back to bed.
It sucks. And I was tired the next day. But that's part of parenthood -- sitting with your sick or scared child.
Getting up because your 20 month old can't sleep through the night shouldn't be. Should it?
But how do I get her to stop waking up and crying out? The old let her cry it out routine doesn't seem appropriate here, because if she needs help -- like if she's stuck or cold -- then she doesn't need to learn the lesson that crying it out teaches, she needs help moving or another blanket. Yes, she does need to learn to find her own damn soother, but I don't know that's the problem until I get there. And, to be honest, needing a soother often goes hand in hand with cold or stuck.
So what do we do? Because I really, really, really would like to start getting some sleep again.