My Child who Hated Sleep

Shortly after Elly born, friends and family came round to see her and gush over her. Almost everyone asked how she slept and when I explained that she didn’t sleep well at all, they all bestowed me with a piece of advice and then assured me that she would sleep soundly in a few months.

I remember clearly wishing she would hurry up and turn 3 months old so she would magically sleep through the night like all the books I read promised.

If I knew then that the first time she would sleep through the night would be a few days after she turned 3 1/2, I might have curled up into a ball and refused to come out.

I was going to write that I would have cried, but I remember all too well crying. I cried because she wouldn’t sleep and surely that was my fault. I cried because she wouldn’t stay asleep at naps and I desperately needed sleep too. I cried because she woke up constantly throughout the night and I was exhausted.

Everybody told me that what I needed to do was leave her in her crib and let her cry it out. I just couldn’t. It made no sense to me. How could a child who couldn’t go an hour without nursing in the day magically sleep for 5 hours or more at night? Of course the real answer of why I couldn’t let her cry it out is because I couldn’t bear to hear her cry. No power on this earth could make me stand outside her bedroom door and listen to her cry. All I wanted to do was pick her up and hold her when she cried.

Instead I searched for an answer on how to get Elly to sleep better at night and at naps without crying. I bought a stack of books, namely the No-Cry series, but none helped. I pulled out the sound machine a friend had gotten us, I darkened the windows and I hummed nursery rhymes until I thought I was going to lose my mind. It all helped a little, but Elly still woke up 13 times in the night. Finally, I gave up trying to get Elly to sleep in her crib and I brought her to our bed. Angels sang me to sleep the night I did. Elly slept only a little bit better, but I felt like a million dollars because I had gotten more sleep in one night than I had in the past week. She slept in our bed until she turned 3. I have no regrets. Scratch that. I have but one regret; I regret that I didn’t bring her to our bed sooner.

After her 3rd birthday, I decided it was time to transition her to her room. Still unable to listen to her cry, I laid in bed with her each night until she fell asleep. There were nights she begged me to put her to bed in my room, but thankfully they were few. She eventually became used to the new routine. Now she loves her room and runs to jump into her bed. I still lay down with her each night, but it is a small price to pay for being able to sprawl out on my side of the bed when I turn in for the night.

Now, the light at the end of the tunnel is visible. Elly slept through the night in her bed for the first time ever. It likely won’t happen again tonight or even tomorrow night, but perhaps by Elly’s 4th birthday, she will stay in her bed and I will get to enjoy a full night’s sleep.

What the Moms Club Means to Me

Last week the Pottstown/Pottsgrove Moms Club held an open house at the Heather Place playground. Despite earlier predictions for rain, the day was beautiful.

Elly had went to sleep with a low-grade fever, but she woke up in good spirits. So, away we went to the party.

I joined the Moms Club when Elly was 18 months old because we would go to the playgrounds and nobody would be there. I felt like I either needed to have another child so Elly could have a playmate (and I so wasn’t ready for a 2nd child. Heck, I’m still not quite ready for a 2nd child) or I needed to find some other people who had kids around Elly’s age.

The Moms Club had a weekly playgroup for moms and their children that were around Elly’s age. It was great for Elly. She had always been a social butterfly, but she really blossomed when she finally got to make some lasting friendships.

Several side benefits occurred including learning how to share, experiencing time away from Mom, and learning kid games like tag and run away.

The surprise was learning how supportive the Moms Club was for me.

Elly had been a baby who hated sleep and thought most food was poisonous. It was so reassuring to hear that Elly was not the only baby in the world who held fast to these notions. More importantly, it was just a phase. Elly would grow up. She would learn to eat better and sleep better.

At 3, Elly does eat better. She is still picky, but she will eat more than just French fries although they remain her favorite food. She is a MUCH better sleeper too though she has still never slept through the whole night. But what started as a nightmare of waking up every hour on the hour now has turned into only waking up once in the night.

Now when Elly and I attend Moms Club activities, Elly runs off to play with her friends. I pull up a chair, relax and chat with some pretty awesome women whom I am proud to call my friends.

Perhaps feeling the way I do, it is only fitting that I have been nominated to be the next president of the Pottstown/Pottsgrove Moms Club.

If the Moms Club sounds pretty awesome to you, check out your local chapter.