When Mimi was a newborn, she was a good sleeper. Make that a great sleeper. A phenomenal sleeper. Like idiots, we bragged about it to all our friends, telling everyone how she already sleeps through the night, how we have to wake her up for feedings, and, gosh, aren’t we so lucky?
One friend smiled wryly and said, “You just wait,” and gave me a knowing look.
Her omen proved accurate – albeit 19 months later.
For the last few months, Miss Mimi has been making us crazy. She’ll go to bed without any fuss at night time, collecting her plush dolls and various stuffed animals (which I’m sure I’m not supposed to have in her crib) all around her, her eyes closed before we even leave the room.
But then comes 4am.
Nearly every night between 4 and 4:30am, we hear her on the monitor. And she’s always calling out for me, of course. Probably because she knows I’m the biggest sucker – and that hearing her cry out my name pretty much kills me.
She usually starts with a few whimpering “Mommy” and “Mamas.” Then when I don’t appear (because I have my head buried under the pillow, hoping she goes back to sleep and also realizing that I have to get up in 45 minutes to go to the stupid gym), she picks it up. Her voice is now more shrill, more urgent.
And then it comes.
“My Mommy! My Mommy-Mama! Waahhhhhhhh!”
Sometime she’ll throw Dr. G. a bone and weave in a few half-hearted “Daddy!” cries in there, but usually she’s calling for her Mommy-Mama.
Dr. G. and I start out trying to hold firm; really, we do. But as our stubborn daughter carries on, getting more worked up and increasingly hysterical, we usually end up giving in and giving her what she wants: to come in bed with us.
And there you have it. We’ve become “those parents.”
Yes, we’ve tried just going in to check on her and reassure her and then leaving. Disaster. We’ve tried rocking her in her room, and while she falls asleep right away, when we try to place her back in her crib, her eyes fly open, her face scrunches up, the crocodile tears flow – and chaos ensues.
I know what we have to do. But our resolve isn’t as strong at 4am as it is at 6pm. And yes, there is a bit of selfishness involved. We both have to work and we need a good night’s sleep, so when we bring her in the bed, she crashes immediately, and we can go back to sleep. Otherwise, she’ll cry and scream for a good hour. Trust me. Stubbornness runs in the family.
I’ve thought about putting her to bed earlier, but then I worry about two things: Will her 4am wake-up call become a 3am wake-up call? And, to be honest, if I put her to bed any earlier, that means I only get two hours with her at night, by the time we get home from school/work/daycare. You can call me a selfish mom, but I want as much time with my kids at night as I can get.
Part of me wonders if we are indulging her more because she is our baby, even though – at 19 months – she’s technically our toddler. But we’re not planning on any more kids. So are we indulging and babying her more than we did with Buddy for that reason? Because we know she’s the last and we want to hang on to every last moment of her babyhood?
That thought occurred to me yesterday after we withstood nearly 35 minutes of her crying on the monitor before I caved and went to get her, then groggily proceeded to put my sports bra on backwards.
So parents, I beg you. We need some help. Do we just tough it out? Should I invest in earplugs? Is there some other secret strategy that we don’t know about?