May 16, 2013

to each HER OWN

When my oldest daughter was born, I pretty much learned that I had no idea how to raise a child.  I read a lot, asked a lot of questions and relied heavily on my intuition.  When it came to getting her on a good sleeping schedule my days were filled with a lot of trial and error.

Pretty soon, I found something that worked.  She was sleeping through the night at 4 weeks!  And, she was napping very regularly at least twice a day, for at least 3 hours each time.  I found myself with an unusually large amount of free time given the fact that I had a new baby.

When my latest bundle of joy arrived, I was committed to trying out my same sleeping strategies with her.  And, it worked!  She slept through the night at less than 2 weeks old.  I informed her pediatrician about her amazing sleep habits and she told me so long as she was peeing and pooing regularly, I didn't have to worry about waking her up during the night.

Over the next few weeks, things were pretty smooth sailing at night.  She was going to bed at a good time, only waking up once for a feeding and easily fell back asleep until the morning.

Nap time was a completely different story.  I couldn't get her on a schedule and I found myself wondering if she was going to be a no-nap little girl.  And that just seemed so wrong to me.  Kids needs naps!  I was determined to get her on a good schedule by doing the exact same thing I did with her big sister.  It worked then.  It should work now.

Then things got worse.  She completely fought going to bed.  She was waking up shortly after being put down.  She woke up multiple times during the night.  And, all of this was going on while she continued to not nap during the day.

I decided to face reality.  My methods were not working with this little one.  I thought about all the things I had tried with my first daughter that didn't work.  I wondered if they would work now.  It just seemed so weird that what SOO did not work with one child would easily work with another.

Then, on Mother's Day, I got sick.  I'm pretty sure it was vertigo.  It kicked in later in the day.  By the time it was ready to get the girls down for bed, I was completely useless.  I could barely walk because everything was spinning.  I told my husband all I could do was go to bed, leaving him in charge of getting the kids to bed.  While in bed, I could hear him struggling with both girls.  Both seemed to be fussy and uncooperative.  Eventually, he got the oldest one in bed.  That just left the baby.  She wasn't responding to the usual routine, so I told him to just put her in her bed and let her cry.  Nothing else was working, and I felt comfortable that she was old enough for the cry-it-out method.

So, he put her down and she began to cry.  And cry.  And cry.  And cry.  I told myself I wouldn't let it go on for longer than 30 minutes.  Despite her crying, I could tell she was fine and just crying out of sheer exhaustion.  Dustin first put her in bed at 9:59.  The crying stopped at 10:32.  And she slept through the night.

Because that had gone so well, I decided to try it for nap time.  Isabelle, my oldest, refused to nap in her crib, so she napped in her swing and LOVED it.  This time around, the swing was less than thrilling. 

To my surprise, nap time went splendidly well.  She cried minimally and slept for hours.

That night, she cried for only 20 minutes.  The next night, 15 minutes.  And last night, she didn't make a peep!  And, nap time, has continued to be a success.   She has never napped this consistently her entire life!

I've learned a very important less this week:  my daughters are not the same.  Even at their young ages, they already have their own personalities, their own likes and dislikes and their own preference in sleeping patterns.  What works for one, doesn't necessarily work for the other.

And in order to make my life a little more sane, I need to embrace their differences and not be so rigid in how I go about doing things.

I know we'll have our not-so-fun nights again.  I know all phases, whether good or bad, don't always last, but at least now I am more aware of my daughters' differences.

And being aware is a very good thing.

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