We've struggled with sleep for our daughter's entire life. A totally full night of sleep is fleeting. In fact, I can count the number of times on my one hand.
She slept with us for awhile as a baby because she wouldn't sleep anywhere else, and I worked long and hard, day after day (when I felt that she was ready), to transition her to her co-sleeper and eventually the crib. I rocked, coddled, bounced, and sang every day and every night. I'd awaken at least 2-3 times have to do any combination of the above, including nursing until that ended in late February.
I did it all. Held her for naps, shaded the windows, stroked her hair, and sat patiently next to her until her eyes closed.
In a word: PAINFUL. In fact, the most tedious, time consuming, frustrating, and hairpulling experience I have ever had to go through. EVER.
She's an incredibly light sleeper (like her father) who can hear the creak of the kitchen floor from her bedroom at least three rooms away. And crying it out is not an option - for her that is. It just escalates her to the point where she will not sleep.
We're at a point now where all I have to do is read stories and lay next to her on the bed in her room for her to fall asleep. Granted, she doesn't take but an hour nap anymore (damn toddler bed) and she'll awaken a few times a night (depending) to visit us in our bed.
But lately, I've grown tired of even the sitting, staring, and waiting. Upwards of 30-40 minutes I sit, in silence, watching her toss and turn- listening to her sing various renditions of Twinkle Twinkle until she finally falls asleep. Oh the things I could be doing... And even then when she falls asleep, I can't shower because she'll wake up.
I've tried leaving, even sitting outside the room, but the screaming fits and 25 "pick her up and return her to her bed" things are intolerable. I've taken away toys, blankets, and pillows - even a prize chart with stickers. STICKERS, people.
And still I must sit.
A few weeks ago, however, I sat for almost 2 hours, on and off. And I lost it. Almost yelling "you're being foolish, lay your head down, it's time for sleep," threatening no tv shows or movies, and even picking her up in a not so friendly way (I would never hurt her, but you know the grab I speak of) and putting her back in bed. Over and over and over.
And then, I just gave in. I crawled in bed with her and cried.
But even that didn't do it.
So, I finally climbed back on my bed, where I always lay at naps and bedtime, and FINALLY she fell asleep. Feeling awful and mean is not where I want to be as a mother. Having my child scream as I pick her up and put her back down in her bed for the 12th time is not who I am. And knowing myself and children fairly well, it just doesn't seem right.
And I realized, like I have done for the last 2 years, that she's just not ready. Call it manipulation, or strong arming by a child. Call me a sucker or a total parenting idiot. But I call it "meeting her where she is," reading my daughter well, or maybe a little bit of the world telling me I need to slow down and nap too.
So right now, she needs me to lay there.
And so I will.