Joshua has been much easier at night than Celia ever was. He usually falls asleep while Michelle’s feeding him in bed, and if he wakes up, a little burp, a jiggle and shushing in his ear calm him down enough to sleep again. When he wakes up throughout the night Michelle has been feeding him back to sleep.
Not so bad, except that A) my mid-back is starting to grumble about the extra weight he’s put on during the more prolonged periods of shushing, and B) midnight feedings don’t work so well in a Queen-sized bed with two-adults.
Fitting the three of us in the bed, one of which is squirming and crying, didn’t do well for my sleep sanity. Which is why I ended up in the guest room.
I’m not complaining. I’d sleep through the night except when Celia would wake up with nightmares. But too many days of waking up with a sore back from a softer mattress, and missing a morning kiss from my lovely wife, convinced me I wanted to sleep in my own bed again.
“It’s time to sleep-train him,” I said to Michelle one morning a couple of weeks ago.
She nodded her head and said, “Okay.”
I smiled. I hadn’t expected it to be so easy. With Celia it was like pulling teeth to get Michelle to allow her to cry herself to sleep. And Celia was much more persistent than Joshua has been – she would wail for hours just to get her way.
That night Michelle was out with some friends and I was in charge of the kids. I had just taken Celia out of the bath when I heard Joshua crying from my bedroom. It was a cold winter night, and I would usually hurry Celia into her room to dress her in some warm pajamas. I looked at Celia in my arms, then set her down in the hallway and rushed in to look at Joshua.
He was becoming frantic so I picked him up and quickly burped him. Celia came into the room, naked and shivering.
“Daddy, I’m cold!” Celia said to me, coming over to my leg and pulling on it.
“Okay, Sweetie. Let me just put Joshua down.”
I set Joshua in the crib and left the room. Joshua cried, and I felt kind of bad, but I had to dress my daughter. It was one of those moments where, as a single human being, I had to choose the more important of two things. So I left him to cry.
I dressed Celia quickly, read her two stories, sang her two songs, tucked her in and said goodnight. Then, back to my bedroom where Joshua was still crying.
“Joshua, you’re okay. I’m here. Everything’s alright,” I said soothingly.
At this point, I wondered if I should pick him up again, as he was used to, or just go for it and truly sleep-train him. “What the heck,” I thought to myself, “Michelle’s gone. She won’t hear the crying. May as well do it now.” I left the room hoping for the best.
He was asleep in a couple of minutes.
In less than ten minutes my son has been sleep-trained!
I had flash-backs to the hours of grueling pain I went through trying to sleep-train Celia. Even to this day there are nights where she simply has to cry herself to sleep.
I wonder if this is part of the second-born child dynamic? Second-born kids are instantly aware that they’re not the center of the universe. There’s another child who has already beat them to that position, and so they have an instinctive awareness that they can’t get away with too much.
Whatever it is, I’m happy. I’m back in bed with my wife, and yes, we’re still working out how to deal with Joshua’s midnight cries, but the hardest part is over. The boy can fall asleep on his own.
Score one for the parents!