Tonight we resume our Sleep Training Schedule.
I'd been waiting for the Sick to be gone and Teething to subside in order to re-start sleep training, but it has become clear to me that there may never be An Ideal Time, as now the teething continues for both wee ones, the mama and little Shoghi are still not completely well, and Seasonal Allergies have descended on our home. (Actually, the allergies are making me a bit fuzzy today, so this post may come and go in its clarity!) Since my parents are coming to town in just under 2 weeks, it seems critical now that we make some real progress before they arrive. It's nice to have a "deadline." They've been very supportive of me and my process of coming to terms with first putting the boys in cribs, and then deciding that they really did need some direct assistance with learning to fall asleep on their own, so it would be nice if we could display some new skills while they are here. Of course, better sleep will also mean better moods for the boys, and it would certanainly be great to be able to have that be the case while they are here.
Before speaking with our sleep coach, I read and re-read Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West. I have two mama peers who have used this book to help their babies to sleep better, one of whom also has twins. I felt that West's book provided the most realistic and comfortable plan I've seen, with her no-nonsense conclusion that changing your baby's habits may cause some stress and frustration for your babe (resulting in some crying), and maybe more direct and scheduled strategy (aka the Sleep Lady Shuffle) than the approach in No Cry Sleep Solution, which seemed nice but rather amorphous to me. Sleep training might just continue forever if I take (continue to take) such a "gentle" path. Anyway, I know it probably seems like I'm throwing these names and ideas around without much background... I just thought maybe these book names would be helpful to someone else.
Yesterday afternoon, I spent about an hour on the phone with Suzanne, our sleep coach. We went over the recent sleep behavior of both boys, but focused more on Shoghi, who hasn't really started yet. We talked about how much he's eating and when, his temperament, and my anxiety about working with him due to his high-level upsets. She reminded me that he can and does fall asleep in other situations, and that it involved a process of learning how to do that (as in the car. When he was tiny, he would be so upset in the car, and now he is very relaxed and falls asleep so peacefully there). She pointed out that soon enough he will be displaying the same kind of high emotion as a toddler, and I will be parenting through that part of his temperament always. Not that this served to scare me any less, but it helps to be reminded that this is just who he is, and the more I get used to supporting him through his emotions, the better off we'll all be.
Anyway, tonight we begin. Shoghi's crib is being moved into our extra room, and I will sleep in Laurie's room next door, while she takes up residence in my room with Max, who will have a bit of revising to his own sleep routine. Specifically, we're going to stop swaddling him. He's so ready to be done with the swaddle, but sadly, it means re-training him to go to sleep without its comfort. He goes a little nuts with all the freedom, and does a lot of rolling around the crib fussing, not knowing what to do with himself. We decided to train them both at the same time, so that we can all get back to being in the same room as soon as possible. She promises that if I am really consistent with Shoghi for the next 3 nights, we will be most of the way there. She also asked us to hold off making any changes to our napping routine while we're working on nighttime sleep.
Today is the boys' 8-month birthday. It seems special, given their birthday of 8/8/08... but mostly it makes me reflect on how far we've come in those 8 months. God, how could it be such a short, fleeting time that has transformed them from their 3-pound selves into these substantial, thriving, larger-than-life beings? I'm still in utter astonishment that I have been through this metamorphosis from a woman bearing the burden of 15+ years of infertility to a mama of two sons! I was listening to Carolyn Myss yesterday in the car, and she said (extreme paraphrase warning) that when you live in grace you make bold and audacious choices, and wow, this certainly has been the case for me. Choosing my ultimate path to motherhood was surprising, unconventional, and certainly bold and trusting of the powers of God or Universe or whatever you want to call it. And here we are, living my dream. I like to think that, in some way, it was their dream, too.
I am standing on the doorstep to the next phase in my own life - and this one I am less clear about than the last. How am I going to transform my life from what it is now (stay-at-home mom living on quickly depleting savings)? What is my vision of the next phase? The first part came so easily - imagining getting pregnant, quitting my job, moving across the country - but I have yet to become as clear about what's to come. This month's birth anniversary is yet another reminder that it's my job to be clear, to deliberately create the next part of our story. I thought that the arrival of the new Aries moon on 3/26 would afford me some time and inspiration to gain that vision, but I have had neither time nor dramatic new ideas. If anything, I have been overwhelmed yet again, this time by sickness and exhaustion. Yet another experience of motherhood is the lack of time to think. The fog of sleeplessness and the immediacy of need of the babies has me constantly humming, and leaves me feeling cotton-brained when faced with strategizing my/our future.
It's not a bad thing, necessarily. Being in this new place brings to my attention the need to shift my practices, to make time by expanding brief moments of quiet, to make more bold, concentrated visions of what I want. Reflecting on it this way, it seems a very powerful time in my own life... such enormous developmental changes are upon my children and at the same time my own inner world is being shaken down, to be rebuilt on a (hopefully) more solid, cathartic foundation (can there be such a thing?) that could allow me to continue to live in the life-changing grace that has flowed into my life already. Pretty exciting, really.
And so here we are again. Tonight I begin to teach my dear boy, my beautiful, emotive, passionate-about-being-with-mama son to fall asleep on his own. May I be guided to support him in just the right way, may the angels and the Concourse on High, the essence of grace and the mercy of God surround him as he learns. May it be much easier than I expect, and lead to his growth, his well-being, and ultimately, 12 hours of nighttime sleep.