It’s nearly 10, and suddenly a wail comes through over the baby monitor. I sigh and push myself to my feet, grumbling slightly; I’m so over the night waking, even though I know it’s most likely because of teeth right now. And, I suppose, it’s because Mommy was gone for 24 hours camping with Eric and he needs the reassurance that I’m still here.
Still, it’s tiring. He had been getting to a point where I could just be in the room and he would lay down and go to sleep – that’s gone now. I miss it. It felt like such a huge step in the right direction toward sleep.
I push open the door with all of the roiling in my head. When the crying instantly stops, it solidifies my resolve. I will not pick him up this time. I will stand strong! I will help him lay down on his own! Progress!
When I get to the side of his crib, I reach to him. I run my hand over his soft head, lay it on his cheek as I kiss his brow. The words are just forming on my lips to tell him to lay down and go to sleep when he lifts an arm. He gives me a half shrug, palm up, elbow bent – a mirror of how I hold my arms when I ask if he wants up.
In a tiny voice, he asks, “Up?”
How can I say no to that?
Around the middle of last month, things started getting…dicey with Danny. By dicey, of course, I mean totally concerning. He was starting to withdraw into himself more, getting quiet, avoiding playing with me, showing an even shorter attention span than usual, and – the thing that bugged me by far the most – taking to banging his head against the wall or floor.
I was, of course, totally beside myself over it. Where did this come from? What does it mean? Always one to take the leap, I started really starting to research all sorts of things, and phrases and terms were thrown all over on the Internet that scared me. (Have I mentioned that, as much as I love the Internet, I hate the Internet?) You’d think that, by now, I’d know better than to go to Google with things like this, but I’m a creature of habit and the 21st century.
One of his prime times for head banging was right after nap time. He’s taken pretty short naps since leaving daycare – I just couldn’t get him to stay asleep for more than an hour, compared to the 2-3 hours he was getting there. I figured it was a phase and got into stubborn mommy mode. He could nap in his bed, he was fully capable of taking long naps on his own, and so I decided he either would, or he didn’t need it. I would go in there, scoop him up from his head banging, put his CIs on, and work frantically to distract him, play with him, feed him, and keep him happy while he spent the next hour totally miserable. Putting him in his own bed made him jump back up, and he would nap in his bed, or he would not nap at all.
Then, one day, I was tired and just didn’t feel like the whole routine. When I heard him get up and close his door, I ran upstairs, picked him up after only one or two BAMs of his head on the wall, and took him down to the couch. I remembered a few weeks previous when, during our IFSP, I’d taken him downstairs and he’d cuddled in and fell back asleep; maybe he’d do it again?
Yep, he sure did. When he woke, he sat on my lap for a bit in a sort of daze, slowly waking up. Then, he looked me in the eye and smiled. Seriously, I swore this kid hadn’t looked me in the eye in a week. He slipped down, and when I picked up his CIs, he held out an arm for me to put them on instead of fighting me. We got a snack, played with Eric, and all carried on. The next day, I grabbed him when he woke up and settled on the couch, and though he didn’t fall asleep, he lay snuggled on my lap for about half an hour just sort of…being. Then, he smiled at me, slipped off my lap, and we carried on.
After a week or so of this, I noticed that he was much more engaged both at school and at home.
After a second week, I couldn’t remember the last time he’d banged his head on the wall or floor.
My God, he was just tired. (Well, not just… He’s still definitely got his issues, but they aren’t overrunning him.) He gets that extra down time or sleep and he’s like this totally different kid; he just needed the extra rest to help him pull himself together. He brings me toys and waits for me to start singing/playing. He mimics things I do, then stares at me like, ‘your turn now!’ He’s babbling again, and silly again, and my child again. All of that because I decided – I don’t even know why, it’s not like it’s my usual style – that he had to spend his entire nap in his bed come heck or high water.
Smooth move, Mom.
I’ve got photos edited, uploaded, and ready for 3 or 4 different blog entries…but by the time the end of the day rolls around and I have more than a couple minutes to sit down and type them out, I’m too tired to do so. The boys seem to have handled Daylight Savings Time quite well; I, however, feel like I’m still trying to adjust! I’m just fine in the morning, but by the time Danny’s bedtime rolls around (7:30) I’m exhausted, and by the time Eric’s rolls around (8:30) I feel like it’s time for me to go to bed myself.
So, instead of long blog posts – which are coming! – I offer this musical interlude:
(And yes, he was totally glued to the TV while doing this… Choo Choo Soul and the dancing train do that. I tried turning it off, and I DID mute it, but… Yeah. He multitasks sometimes.)
Someone asked me today if being home with Danny has led him to make a lot of progress. The only answer I had for her was “maybe.” The truth is, I’m not sure there has been much progress at all, but rather, I’m noticing more of the little things I didn’t before.
That’s not to say there are amazing things going on. Danny is still very quiet, stubborn, and overall 2. There’s little things, though. Baby steps of progress.
He’s got an emerging “d” sound that isn’t quite d yet – more of a cross between a G and a D – but it’s coming.
He’s using his left hand more and more to assist in tasks. He’s never going to be left handed, but he pulls that left hand in more and more to stabilize toys and help in the things he’s doing.
Most excitingly, he’s putting his ears on as well as taking them off. It isn’t always, and he still takes them off (all the way, not just off his head), but the other day I knocked one off while holding his hand in a parking lot, and his immediate reaction was to put it back on. He needs a little help sometimes, but that’s OK! Daddy and I are both loving that.
There’s one more new thing that’s not quite as exciting: he’s stripping his diaper off. In the very earliest of potty training steps, he’s recognizing when he’s wet and taking his diaper off. He’s also peeing on the floor. He even got out of the bath yesterday only to pee on the floor and get back in. (At least he didn’t pee in the bath water, right?)
Any time I’m not with them now, I’m waiting for Eric to chime in: “Mommy, Danny peed on the floor again!”
It’s a sign he might potty train eventually, right? At least, I keep telling myself that. Baby steps…
So, the whole big kid bed isn’t quite all it’s cut out to be. Danny’s had his share of tantrums, escapes, and midnight battles turning on and off the TV, all in an effort to prove to us that he could care less about sleeping in his big kid bed.
Once I got home, I started a mini-routine for bed time. Now, a big, complicated, hour-long bedtime routine has never been out style. The boys both do best if they have time to themselves to unwind, and then a quick, no-nonsense trip to bed. Eric gets a story, and now, Danny does too. We disappear into his bedroom, read a story in the rocker, get big kisses, and take off his ears. Then, I pick him up, put him in his bed, and run for my life. If I’m quick, I can get the door closed before Danny is there trying to open it.
The first night, of course, he cried, though not much. The first night, I also lay on a body pillow beside his bed for half an hour showing him what was expected, and when I left he was laying on a pillow beside me half-asleep. The second night, he’d been totally loving reading the book (we read it four times through before I decided it was time to stop), and when I got up to put his processors away, he climbed back into the rocker and reached for his book. I left him sitting there flipping through the book and babbling to himself.
Not a cry. Not a peep. A little while later…
So he’s still not going to sleep in his bed – the tally is 3 times in front of the door, once on the body pillows, once on the Pooh rug, and once in the rocker – but we’re making progress. This works for me.
We decided, yesterday, to try Danny sleeping in a bed instead of a crib. With a convertible, this essentially came to taking the front rail off, which transforms the crib magically into a toddler bed. It’s quite handy, and awesome that we didn’t have to buy a darn thing new – we’d bought the convertible crib over 4 years ago with this intention, and finally we’re getting to use it!
The whole experiment went… OK. Not great, but it was a success in the end, sort of. My initial thought was to just set him in bed, leave, and leave him “trapped” in his room, basically an extension of being in his crib. With the crib, he almost never made a peep and was perfectly content to lay down and go to sleep – same theory, right? Well, Danny discovered he was trapped in his room and started screaming like a banshee. This was no fussing or complaining or tantruming that I will let him do on his own; it was a full out wail. I went up, gave him a hug and settled him down, then sat on the floor beside his bed. I made sure all his toys were turned off (so he couldn’t go play with the lights in the dark), laid by head on his bed to show him what was expected, and waited.
Now, this whole thing is made difficult by the fact that it’s all done with his ears off. Part of our routine for bed time is taking his ears off – I certainly wouldn’t be able to sleep with those processors stuck to my hips! So now I’m left with the option of putting his processors back on (which would send mixed signals, since he knows when they come off it’s time to sleep) or trying to mime and enforce sleeping in his bed with no solid way to communicate outside the “good night” and “I love you” signs I do before leaving him to sleep. I knew this wasn’t going to be fun. I was right.
So after about 20 minutes of sitting on the floor watching Danny wander around his room and try to play with everything, intermingled with climbing up onto his bed and jumping in it, I decided it just wasn’t going to work. I put the rail up and put him in his crib and he wailed again, so I gave both of us a bit of a break, then once we were both calmed down I took him back up to his room and did my typical night time drop off with kisses, cuddles, and signs. He promptly threw a leg over the rail, pulled himself up, and he was out. OK, fluke, right? I was too close, he used me for lift? I put him in and back up, and he does it again.
Right then. Back off comes the rail. Lights out, toys off, door closed, and Mommy sitting in the rocker, he was left to figure it out. It only took about 30-40 minutes of him wandering, jumping, and trying to play before he laid down on the floor by my feet. I waited until he was nearly asleep and moved him to his bed.
Another 10-15 minutes of wandering, jumping, and trying to play, he went over and laid down on the body pillows I’d laid on the floor beside his bed in case he fell out of bed.
Not being a fool, I waited until he was asleep and just snuck out of the room. He got up and let himself out of his room right as I was waking up this morning, so I don’t know if he spent the whole night on the floor or if he ever moved to his bed…but he did sleep the night through in his room, so I guess that’s a success.
I can only hope that, tonight, the process of getting Danny to bed takes less than the 2 hours it took yesterday.