When giving Philip a bath on Thursday, I noticed that his nose seemed a bit stuffed up. I didn’t think much of it. He certainly seemed to be full of energy. In fact, he had a very hard time settling down for bed. Maybe that should have been my next clue. But I ignored the clue and got ambitious. When Philip was almost asleep at 11:30 pm, I picked him up and carried him to his bed.
Why was that ambitious? Well, here’s the part where I confess a guilty secret. I’ve always felt like a parenting failure when it came to building good sleep habits for Philip. I read all the books, the “What to Expect” emails, the free magazines that parents-to-be are inundated with. I knew that I was supposed to create a routine. Most of them suggested a bath, a book and bed. Some got elaborate and suggested massaging the child. Of course, I always pictured myself singing lullabies every night to my child. I had built quite a repertoire during my years as a music teacher. I wondered which one would become Philip’s favorite.
Most importantly, I was supposed to be able to put Philip in his crib, turn out the light and let him drift to sleep. Your child cries? That’s what crying-it-out is all about. So I tried that. Unfortunately, there were times that Philip would cry so hard that he began to gag.
I forgot the most important part: the actual hour that all of this is supposed to take place. I heard the other new moms I knew talk about putting their kids to bed around 7:00 pm. You see, those advice columns/books said that children usually eat supper, have a bath, listen to a book and go to bed. So, you can imagine my embarrassment and sense of failure to realize that my child was staying up until 9 pm. Or 10 pm. And many times, even later. It wasn’t unusual for me to take Philip out for a drive in the hopes that he would fall asleep. And oftentimes that would work. And then it didn’t work right away. I started to grocery shop at 1:00 am. Hey, at least there aren’t any lines at that hour.
I’ve written about all these sleep issues before, so I’ll try to get to the point. Philip was in a vicious cycle of staying up late and then sleeping in and then napping late and then staying up late ad nauseam. What finally broke the cycle was when we moved. I don’t really understand why, but I wasn’t one to complain. Things weren’t perfect, but they got better.
After the move, we established a new routine. Bath time. Play. A snack. More play. And then watching a movie or television show until falling asleep.
Here’s guilty confession number 2: my child watches more TV than is recommended. I’m sure there would be a line of people telling me how damaging that is. But you know what? Philip calms down watching Curious George or Blues Clues. If I try to turn the TV off, even if his eyes are closed, he will often wake up. I actually think the TV serves as white noise. It’s what he needs to fall asleep.
Since it’s been working, I try not to mess with it. Of course, this means that Philip falls asleep downstairs and then I have to carry him upstairs to his bed. When I’m feeling tired, I really notice how much Philip weighs when I carry him to bed. I think to myself, “How long am I going to have to do this? Until he’s four? Five? Sixteen?”
So, last night I got ambitious and took Philip up to his room before he was fully asleep. In the past when I’ve tried this, he has refused to lay down, will cry and reach to be picked up. Much to my surprise, he actually lay down on his pillow.
Score 1 for Mom.
But wait, there’s more.
Philip may have laid on his pillow, but he did not fall asleep. In fact, I could hear him flopping around on the bed. He started babbling. I even heard a giggle. When I got out of my own bed to look, he was standing on the railing of his bed.
Tired of trying to be a “good parent,” and worried that he would fall off his bed, I took Philip back downstairs. He was now fully wound up again. It took an hour for him to resettle and fall asleep. I was laying on the couch, half asleep myself. I decided to give him a few minutes to make sure he was completely out.
And that’s when the thunder started.
Score 1 for Mother Nature.
Let’s rewind. On Wednesday night, I did the usual not-trying-to-prove-anything bedtime routine with Philip. He fell asleep in front of the TV, I carried him upstairs, all before 11 pm. Considering the recent time change, I found that to be an acceptable hour. I put Philip in bed without incident.
Around 1:30 am, Philip cried. I know, I know-there are those that say I should let him cry it out. Hey, those people don’t have to live with us. I got out of bed. I went to Philip’s room and rubbed his back. His tears stopped, and he was asleep again in moments.
I went back to bed, but an hour later I heard him. Not crying, but murmuring. I don’t know how long this lasted, but I’m pretty sure we both fell back asleep without either of us getting out of bed.
And technically, I didn’t get out of bed until my usual time around 6:30 am. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm came through around 4:30 am. And Roscoe is terrified of thunder and lightning. So there he was at the side of the bed whining. The rain and wind were so loud, I’m pretty sure I would have been awakened anyway. But the panting, whining dog beside the bed was a guarantee that I could not fall back asleep. By now, Peter was also awake. We coaxed Roscoe up onto the bed. He crawled right between us, licking our faces in turn. About 5 am, Peter gave up and went downstairs. I was in luck because Roscoe followed him. I stayed in bed and caught about forty minutes of sleep.
Fast forward to early Friday morning. As you can tell, I had not slept very well the night before, so when Philip finally fell asleep at 12:30 am, I was ready to do the same. But another thunderstorm came up. This time, I was on the couch with a wet dog nose in my face. And then, suddenly, I was sharing a not-very-wide couch with the dog. He laid on my arm and licked my face, preventing me from dozing off.
Eventually, the thunder subsided. Roscoe left me alone on the couch. Philip was still asleep on the living room floor.
And then he cried.
I could tell that congestion was making it hard for him to breathe which woke him up. Not only was he feeling crappy, huge yawns interrupted by sobs let me know that he was tired.
I joined him on the floor, helping him wipe his nose and then rubbing his back. He calmed, the sniffles subsided, and he fell back asleep. I got back on the couch to do the same.
And damned if it didn’t start to thunder again.
Now it was Roscoe’s turn to be comforted. The rumbles didn’t last long. Both dog and Mom fell asleep. Until 3:30 am. That’s when Philip awoke again, his stuffy nose bothering him again. This time his cries were louder. Peter came downstairs.
I think it took about half an hour for Philip to calm down this time. I probably should have gone upstairs to bed since Peter was awake, but I was worried about Philip. I tossed and turned until 6 am. Philip got up not long after, so I put him in the shower for a few minutes while I was getting ready for work to let the steam clear his head.
I’m not sure what’s in store for this evening. I hope weather.com isn’t lying when it forecasts clear skies tonight. That will eliminate dog kisses and whining as sleep hindrances. But Philip definitely has a head cold. He has spent most of the day and evening up in our bedroom. Sure, he was feeling good enough to take every article of clothing out of our two laundry hampers and strew them across the floor. But first, he had gone up, taken the pillow from his bed and moved it into our room so he could take his afternoon nap there.
When I got home from work, I put all the clothes away and returned his pillow to his bed. Philip did go along on our pre-dinner walk with Roscoe, but while I was making supper, he moved the pillow back to our room. He was up there while Peter and I ate supper. I think the stuffy nose has ruined his appetite. And he is having trouble breathing while he drinks, too.
After supper, I joined Philip upstairs. He has been fairly subdued. No need for trampoline time tonight. He cried when I gave him Tylenol. I gave him another shower instead of a bath, something that he usually enjoys, but he cried a lot then, too. But it did seem to relieve some of the congestion. After he got dressed, Philip moved his pillow to the floor of our room to quietly play.
Peter, who has been up since 3:30 am, came up around 9 pm, so I took Philip downstairs. I had to stop typing this post, though, because Philip went back upstairs to our room again. There must be something comforting about that space when he is sick. But now we are downstairs. I have the TV on. Philip is lying down. Will he fall asleep soon? Hard to say. Will he stay asleep? I’m not holding my breath. And poor Philip is too stuffed up to hold his.