Some of you know that Clare has never been what you would call a good napper or sleeper. I don't know why -- I've read the books on what you're "supposed" to do to help your baby develop good sleep habits. For some reason or another, Clare just doesn't go down easily and never has.
When she was younger, I wasn't a fan of the "just let her cry it out" method. I don't know, I just couldn't do it. Some of my friends who have been moms for longer or who have 2 or more kids already are probably thinking, "Ok, Carrie. That's great, but it won't last once you have a few kids to juggle and get to bed." Maybe so.
Anyway, she's been doing well going to sleep in her own bed and staying there for most of the night - she usually crawls in to our bed at some point - but getting her to sleep has always been a challenge. We finally weaned her off of having to have someone next to her in order to fall asleep and would just sit in her room and sing lullabies or pray the Rosary until she fell asleep or was sleepy enough that we could sneak out without her noticing. She's good enough - not usually throwing tantrums - but even though she may be lying there quietly sometimes it would take her 45 minutes to fall asleep!
I decided this week that with a new baby arriving in less than 4 months we cannot be doing this every nap time and bed time. I lamented to Tom that the time of day which should be the most relaxing for us all - getting ready for bed - is the time of day which I dread the most. Her little body clock has been completely turned around the past couple of weeks due to a wonderful trip to Idaho to see Kristy graduate (but no schedule, staying in a hotel, late late late bed times, little to no naps really takes a toll on a litte one) and being up late at home for various reasons. Anyway, it's been tough and the bedtime battles finally got to be too much for me, and poor Clare was constantly tired. We had to do something to reverse this.
So we made the decision that Clare has to get a decent bedtime and a good nap - even if that meant that she cried for a while before that happened. She is old enough to tell us if she has a legitimate need (although this has turned in to her making excuses for getting out of bed -- pretending like she's dying of hunger and begging for food even though we've just had dinner and she had a snack before bed, saying that she has an owie on her finger and needs a bandaid, she wants water, insisiting that she has to go #2, her teeth hurt, you-name-it) so I don't worry that I'm neglecting her in some way if I leave her in there by herself.
I knew that she had a particularly strong will but I had NO idea that on Wednesday night she would be screaming, "Mama!!!!" for 1 1/2 hours, interspersed with me putting her back in her room and telling her to go night-night, giving her a kiss, and tucking her back in. What a nightmare. But I was actually able to get through it by reminding myself that she's going to be a much happier and healthier girl by being able to go to sleep and stay that way for a good night's rest. Surprisingly enough, she's really pretty obedient about staying in her room when we've put her there, even though we leave the door cracked open. If I hear little footsteps all I have to say is, "Clare, please go back to your room."
Anyway, I thought that we were really in for a rough go of things while we all adjusted to this new way of getting her to bed. Until last night. I put her in bed, sang a couple of songs, and prayed a Rosary out loud while she arranged and re-arranged all 30 of her stuffed animals/babies that she insists on sleeping with. When I was done with the Rosary she was quiet and lying there talking to her baby, and I told her, "Clare, Mama's going to go do the dishes. You need to stay in your bed and go night-night." Then I left. I expected screaming as soon as I stood up, but nothing happened. It was silent in her room for a whole 15 minutes! Then she started crying for me - but this time it only lasted about 20 minutes and she fell asleep all on her own. And she slept for 11 hours!
I think I may be starting to see the light at the end of this tunnel! When I went to bed I said a prayer of thanksgiving to Christ for giving me the grace I needed to remain patient and loving, to Our Lady for being my recourse, and to Clare's guardian angel (to whom I have addressed MANY prayers lately) and fell asleep myself - for 8 hours without interruption.