I had another post planned for tonight. I know "planned"! But that all went out of the window because Baby45's bedtime stuffed it all up. Why hello there 9pm, I have achieved nothing but ringing ears due to toddler sobbing. I'll have to write the post I planned another day when my brain is not mush.
I just wanted to write about why I find it so upsetting when Baby45 is so upset at bedtime. Don't get me wrong, when he's being a whingy little sod then I tend to just grit my teeth and get on with things. But when he's properly upset - like tonight, it's just very distressing. He's going through a period of being scared of the dark. When I go into his room, his little body is shaking with sobs, he clings to me like a tiny monkey "mummy ...I ....scared...of...dark..." His little face and the pillow are wet with tears. Tonight was the worst - paralysed with fear, he was just clutching his duvet, rigid with distress.
In the end it was simple enough to soothe him - the blind (!) was the cause of the terror. I reassured him that the blind was our friend, we liked the blind, it wasn't scary etc etc And also that tomorrow we would make some magic glitter spray to make all the scary things go away. He seemed satisfied with this and was happy to fall asleep listening to the Gruffalo on Jackanory Junior.
But whenever this happens, I find it really upsetting - and get quite panicky for sometime after. It's definitely influenced my parenting and my (lack of) sleep training. I just can't leave Baby45 to cry - not more than the grizzly whinging sort anyway. I have spent far more hours than I care to count sat on his bedroom floor next to his cot, shushing and patting and singing and hand holding and keeping him company until he feels safe and happy enough to fall asleep.
And lots of other times where I've just brought him into bed with me as we've gotten so much more sleep that way. Also, I know you're not supposed to admit this but sometime I quite like co-sleeping. Yes there are plenty of times I end up on 3ins of bed with monkey starfished out across the rest, but there are time where he wants to fall asleep cuddled in my arms, his soft cheek pressed up against mine "cuggle mummy, cuggle". And in the morning, always a warm snuggly cuddle and dribbly kisses. Until he yanks the duvet off me "UP MUMMY UP! WANT BEEBIES". Brrrrrrr!
I know that this approach isn't one that everyone likes, but that's not my point. It's more that the reason I'm funny like this about his sleep is much more about me. In all honesty I am terrified that Baby45 will inherit my anxiety and my depression. I also am really scared of the dark (still now in my almost-mid-thirties) and have terrible, vivid nightmares. When I was a teenager I went through a phase of having panic attacks when I tried to go to sleep. This went on for several years so I lost a lot of sleep then. And I also hate going to sleep home alone and often dream I am being attacked.
I'm not going to post the stuff about whether various methods of sleeping training can increase the risk of mental health problems, because lots of people sleep train for their own reasons. But given the history of mental health in my family, when Baby45 cries at bedtime or is scared, or wakes in the night crying, all of the above, plus that, comes back to haunt me. For him to feel a fraction of the terror and panic I felt when I was younger, or even now when I am scared or anxious is really soul-destroying for me and I would do anything to prevent it. Which is what I hope to combat by how I handle bedtimes and night wakings.
I know that he is his own person with his own behaviours and personality quirks and he's going to be how he's going to be - I have to be careful not to put my own stuff on him too much. But I hope that I'm getting it right for him with what I do to soothe him. Don't get me wrong, he goes through periods of self-settling and sleeping through (sometimes both at the same time!) and even sleeping past 7am - the sleep holy grail! But there are times when he doesn't. Oftentimes there's other reasons for this - he's ill or teething or there's been a routine change (coming back from holiday etc). I know one day he will sleep fine on his own without any help from me - and I just have to have faith I'm doing the right thing for him. I know there's lots who would say things about rods and backs, but I just ignore them. If Baby45 is happy and calm, then I am too. And that's all that matters.
Thank you and goodnight,
Stupidgirl has left the building