Monday, July 1, 2013

Long nights

Here's me and HP this morning.  Please note our matching crazy morning hair, carefully styled by a night of tossing and turning.  HP's clearly thrilled to be awake.  (Actually, he was, he just did not like the little light that comes on before the flash goes off.)

In HP's twelve month post I said he was handling teething like a champ.  I take it back.  We have had two long nights as his molars work to come through.  Really long.  So very, very long.

Night one I was in his room with him from 3:15-7:00 a.m., in addition to at least three wake-ups earlier in the night.  There were so many tears, and nothing Henry or I did comforted him.  Night two I was with him from 10:00 p.m.-4:30 a.m. (and once or twice before that) at which point I crawled back into my own bed for the last two hours before he was up for the day.

I had forgotten what it feels like to be this exhausted.  I know it was like this for months on end when HP was first born, but how quickly the memories fade!  I had gotten accustomed to the luxury of sleeping through the night and this abrupt change has been rough--for all of us.  So rough, in fact, that it had me questioning my desire to have a second child.  Because not sleeping?  Is physically painful.

The first night I felt frustrated with HP.  I know, I know.  He is just a baby who is uncomfortable and in pain.  He is not trying to make our lives difficult.  But after the fourth wake-up in the middle of the night when no amount of nursing/rocking/singing/snuggling helps, my patience was wearing thin.

Knowing in advance what we would be facing, I adjusted my attitude last night.  I opted to stay in HP's room instead of going back and forth, hoping we would all sleep better.  Since HP likes to sleep on a padded area right next his mattress, I used his bed.  He would crawl up next to me when he was upset and then crawl back down when he was ready to go to sleep.  It took about half an hour to calm him down the first time he woke up, but after that I could quickly soothe him with a hand on his back when I heard him stir.

Throughout the night I would tell him (and remind myself) HP, you're getting new teeth right now.  It hurts.  You are so brave.  It's okay to cry.  I know you are in a lot of pain.  Saying the words out loud seemed to help us both.  The first night my thoughts were somewhere along the lines of: Why won't this child go to sleep!  I am so tired!  I can't do this!  He's still crying!  Aaahhhhhhh!  Those thoughts, while true, helped no one.  I have no doubt that HP could sense my thinly veiled frustration.  Changing the words I said out loud reduced my irritation, helped me empathize with HP, and validated his feelings.

Sadly, the more positive approach did nothing to limit the extreme exhaustion I feel today.  But this too shall pass.  Eventually these nights will be a distant memory and we will be well-rested again.
If you can hear me, please hurry up and break through.  I do not know how many more days/nights our family can handle with our sanity intact.   
One Tired Mama
** I want to update this post to acknowledge that Janet Lansbury's blog and the RIE parenting philosophy was the inspiration for my new approach to HP's teething pain.  She has helped me see that my primary goal should not be to stop HP from crying, but to acknowledge his pain and let him know that it is okay to express his feelings.  I hope to write more soon about how my parenting has changed after learning more about RIE.**


  1. This is heart-wrenchingly beautiful. You are a WOMAN OF VALOR for being able to validate HP's feelings in the midst of so much exhaustion. I think you should share this post with Janet Lansbury (or else I will).

    1. Abby, thanks for your support. It means more than you know. Janet Lansbury was the inspiration behind my change of heart. Her posts have given me permission to not try to fix HP or make him stop crying, but to acknowledge his discomfort and let him know it is okay to express his feelings--good and bad. Thank you for introducing me to her site and RIE. It has changed the way I parent for the better.