Thursday, March 27, 2008

Nessun dorma

Nessun dorma. None shall sleep. I should play it as my children's lullaby.

Oliver has never been a good sleeper. He goes to bed perfectly, but after 2-3 hours the problems will start. It's not that he wakes crying for Mummy or Daddy or has bad dreams - that I could cope with. He suddenly shouts and screams and kicks his quilt until I appear, then he is fine and goes back to sleep. Realising that he really is fine, every single time this happens, I have now switched to ignoring the tell-tale screeches and then checking there is nothing truly wrong once he has gone back to sleep himself, which he does quite easily. It's too early to tell whether this is really working, but after a few days the signs are encouraging.

Then there is Lucy. She was sleeping so well. But recently she has become more wakeful in the night, needing Hayley to turn her over or re-assure her. While she was poorly with a cold we were happy to do this, but now that she is well and she simply wants us to get her back to sleep we have decided that we need to use controlled crying. Learning to get herself back to sleep is a skill she needs to acquire.

Last night was a first and a worst. She woke at 11.10pm, just as we were going to bed. (I wanted to go to bed at 9.30 but we got sucked into some eBaying for fancy dress outfits - don't ask!) Lucy started to cry. She wouldn't settle. As this was unlike her, we gave her calpol and applied some bonjela in case she was teething. No improvement. We noticed she had no temperature and that as soon as the light came on and we picked her up she was all smiles and wide awake. So we tried the controlled crying, leaving her for an extra minute each time we settled her. By the time all this had gone on she finally fell properly asleep at 1am.

I have to say I feel a little guilty about using the controlled crying when she seems wide awake. I know some people get up with their offspring and entertain them until they fall asleep. Or take them out in the car until they nod off. But as Oliver and (until last night) Lucy have never shown signs of being truly nocturnal, the whole scenario has been alien to me. And the words of the health visitor who told us that babies need to learn to get themsleves to sleep unaided are still imprinted on my brain. So today I'm still in the camp that says she needs to learn to sleep at night, one way or another, and as soon as possible, given that she is well past the 6 months mark. But what if the controlled crying fails us this time?

When I got up at 6.50 this morning I asked Hayley if she still wanted to let me have a lie-in as she'd insisted the night before. She was less insistent and looked exhausted, bless her. I got up.

I am already looking forward to both kids going to bed by 7.30pm, so I can hit the sack myself around 7.31.... with Pavarotti echoing round my brain.