Solomon will be 2 on August 12th. Being his mother has been a privilege and yet also challenging. Solomon has Eustacian Tube Disorder, Restrictive Airway Disease, a speech delay, and some weird sleeping issues. Before we knew about his health issues we tried sleep learning with him several different times. We did about 5 different books' methods and he never responded even close to what the books said he would. He would do nothing but scream, vomit, scream, choke, cough, and scream some more. Sleep was never the end result. We would try for as long as 5 nights. He would be falling over during the day because he was so exhausted, but bedtime would come and he'd muster another 12 hours of energy. It was unreal. I have felt that people think I enable his sleep issues and think I exaggerate. I've never heard of another kid like Sol.
3 weeks ago I decided, "he is a bit older, his breathing issues are well controlled by his inhaler, he is ear infection free at this second in time.....let's try again." Up to this point the only way Solomon would sleep, day or night, was if he was touching me. I had to be holding him. Get up to pee at midnight? Sure....while holding a kid. Need to poop at 10pm while watching The Good Wife? Well alright, if you can do it while holding your toddler and not waking him. Want to go out with friends? Girl's night? Grocery shop in the evenings alone? Dinner date? Clean the house after kids are sleeping? Have a conversation with an adult after 7pm? No. No. No. No. No. No. Not gonna happen, lady. And so it went for 23 months of my life.
This boy is beautiful. Gorgeous, flowing locks of beach blonde hair. Bright blue, expressive eyes. Chubby, kissable cheeks. He is a looker, for sure. He is snuggly, a portable heater, and he adores me. He has made sure to be affectionate and part of me loved the closeness we shared. It was a problem in that it was at the expense of everything else. My friendships, conversations with my spouse, my sanity, even going to the bathroom alone in the middle of the night. My little shadow never gave me space. It wasn't a 3x a week thing, it was an every single day of my life thing. And yes, even naptime!
I knew sleep learning him would require me to muster some major strength. It had failed so so so very miserably every time before. And then we'd all be exhausted from a week of not sleeping on top of the frustration of failed sleep learning. It was worst case scenarios coming true every time. It took a few days for me to muster the will to try again. I honestly assumed it would fail again.
Day 1 arrived and we started our new routine of everything in his room. Jammies, read a book, pray, nurse, then crib. He was sobbing the whole time. He knew what was happening and he couldn't be fooled. He was far too upset to nurse. He cried for 4 hours. Half of that time I was sitting in the rocking chair next to his crib. He finally fell asleep, slept a few hours, woke to nurse, then slept another 5 hours. Compared to every other attempt, it was a smashing success. I was shocked. The next day we attempted naptime in his crib. I was afraid letting him nap on me but not at night would confuse him. He screamed the entire 2 hours. Naptime was a flop. Nighttime went similarly to the night before, only half as much crying and 2 more wakeups. The next day was another naptime flop. We were averaging 8 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. Not ideal for a nearly 2 year old. He was a sloppy, cranky, exhausted mess. On day 3 he started refusing all food. Even cookies and popsicles and heck yes I tried! He was simply too tired to eat or nurse. He was running on empty and I could not see how sleep learning a kid who wouldn't eat would be able to work. Nights got rougher. So. Many. Wakeups. So then I decided, screw this! He can nap on me and we'll just worry about bedtime right now. After that first back on mommy nap he woke up chipper, ate a huge dinner, nursed, and slept much better in his crib at night. He had certainly won that battle.
Fast forward to today, he sleeps 12 straight hours in his crib most nights. He usually cries for 0-30min and then falls asleep. It has been 5 nights of good sleep and we've been sleep learning about 3 weeks. I'm still shocked it worked this time.
It was trial and error. I realized after 2 nights of many wakeups that he was getting cold so we switched to footy jammies- which were always way too sweaty when he slept with me. We also realized that despite a sunny room not bothering him when he was in my bed, it was waking him at 4:30am in his own room. Craig put black plastic over his windows (and out of his reach), behind his curtains, and that bought us another 2 morning hours. He had a fishy/water/music soother in his crib, but the batteries would die every 2 days so the 20 min of music would get less and less. I guessed that it was waking him every time it turned off so we said bye bye to the fishies and that greatly reduced the number of nighttime wakeups.
Sol's room is very dark and has a white noise machine. He takes .5mg of melatonin 30 min before bed (Dr said up to 6mg would be perfectly safe for him). We started with 1mg at the beginning of sleep learning. And he is finally sleeping in his own crib!!
Naptime is a whole different beast and we haven't tackled it again yet. Soon, maybe. It scares me. I don't want our success to unravel. But oh man, I'd love two hours toddler free during the day!
For this to work, I can see it required consistency. But let's be real here, I was consistent every other time we did sleep training and it never went this well. It took a long time, but this time he was more ready. Sometimes he will even tell us when he wants to go to bed now. He also doesn't like to snuggle before bed. Through tears he points to his crib asking to go in, every night. How crazy is that?
So, here's to a new chapter and one I hope continues!!