I have come to learn that raising children is full of mystery. It’s a mystery why they do what they do—why they respond to something one way and respond totally different the next day. I have found that this mysterious behavior displays itself in things such as eating habits, toy preferences, activity interests, and lately… sleep.
At around five months old Ryan started sleeping in his crib for 10-11 hours a night. We would get him ready for bed, then lay him in his crib (often awake), and slip out of the room. During this time he was also easily going down for two naps a day. But then at 14 months, Ry started waking up in the middle of the night. At first I thought it was his teeth, and Michael and I were both so tired, that he would wake and we would bring him to our bed. This is definitely not a practice I am proud of. Then at 16 months, Ryan developed a new physical strength and curiosity, and he discovered the urge to climb out of his crib. From there we were all downhill. Now Ryan has a toddler bed, but he also has discovered the freedom that comes from not being in a crib, and it is an absolute struggle to get him to go to sleep in this bed.
Our nighttime routine now includes changing clothes and brushing teeth, playing and reading in the room, then turning the lights off and sitting on the floor next to the bed encouraging Ryan to go to sleep. Sometimes this can take over an hour. Once he is finally asleep, we quietly escape, and desperately hope he doesn’t hear us and wake up. Then almost every night, within a few hours of putting him to bed, he wakes up, screams and pounds on his door. On nights where we are perseverant, we walk him back to his bed, and lay on the floor next to him until he falls asleep, sometimes this can take an hour. On other nights, in an attempt to get some sleep, we simply bring him back to our bed.
I wonder, how did this child go from easy, independent sleeper, to someone who fights and struggles with sleep almost every night? It is a mystery to me why the transition from crib to bed has been so difficult, and why we can’t seem to find a solution.
My biggest struggle though, is that I know this can’t go on. I love being close to Ryan, but I also love my sleep and my space, and I love my relationship with Michael. And honestly, Ryan not sleeping or Ryan sleeping in our bed, has a negative impact on each of those things. So every day, I go into the night thinking, how can we make this work? Will tonight be the night that things fall into place? I can only hope.