Getting Emmy to sleep has never been easy.
When Em was a tiny baby I co-slept with her mostly to make night time breastfeedings convenient and less disruptive. When we tried getting her to go to sleep in her own crib (at 3 months, and again at 4 months… and 6 months… and 8 months… you get the picture), it didn’t work. We tried everything BUT the cry-it-out method (I just COULDN’T do that), but Em REFUSED to go to sleep in her own bed.
Within the last year, we’ve had some success at getting Emmy to sleep in her toddler bed in her own room. Basically, we put her to sleep in her bed, and when she wakes up (anywhere between one to four hours later), she joins C and me in our bed. C, who once was quite opposed to the whole “family bed” scenario, has come around to liking the comfort of us all being together at night (though both of us agree that we very much look forward to having our bed to ourselves again… whenever that may happen… hopefully before we reach retirement).
But in the past few weeks, since the baby’s arrival, Em has again had difficulty with FALLING asleep. We DO have a bedtime schedule established, more or less, which consists of dinner, bathtime, brushing teeth, books, and lullabies. Despite the comfort of consistency, Em seems to have anxiety when she gets under her blankets at night, and it ends up taking up to two hours for her to fall asleep.
She’s mentioned a fear of the dark a few times. She’s also told me that she can’t close her eyes because if she does, she can’t see anything. She asks me to hug her about 94 times, and she begs me to hold her hand until she falls asleep. I would have no problem doing these things to ease her fears, except that I am also holding a fussy, hungry baby who needs to be rocked or fed or cuddled. I try to comfort both Em and the baby at the same time, but it is often impossible, and one child gets upset, which creates a strained environment rather than a relaxed environment. I think this is feeding Em’s anxieties about bedtime.
C has tried to help by watching Oren while I sing and comfort Em, but Oren hasn’t exactly cooperated with that plan. And it is hard to get Emmy to close her eyes and fall asleep while Oren is wailing somewhere in the background.
I would ask C to maybe switch roles with me, so he could read and sing and comfort Em, but frankly that is some of the only quality time Emmy and I have to be with one another, and I think we BOTH need that mommy/daughter time at the end of the day.
So I am trying to devise a Plan C, where maybe I read and sing lullabies to Emmy while C holds Oren, but then C comes in and holds her Em’s hand while she falls asleep. Maybe that will work? Maybe that will create a feeling of calm that will help lull our little insomniac to sleep?
It seems ironic, that snoozing should be such a source of stress in our family’s life. But I remind myself that we ARE parents of a toddler and a newborn, so sleep will likely be a moving target for the next several years… we might as well get used to this craziness.
If you have experience with this kind of thing, and have advice to offer, please don’t hold back. I’m open to your suggestions!