The other night my 21 month old son woke up crying. I usually give him 10 minutes before I consider going in and 99% of the time he falls back asleep within minutes.
That night was the 1%. I felt the pull to him after only 7 minutes and so I went in.
He was sitting upright in his crib very sleepily and I immediately regretted my decision. I could tell he wanted to fall back asleep.
I picked him up and gave him lots of cuddles. He rested his sweet head against my shoulder and within minutes I could tell he was fast asleep. I slowly got up from the chair and lowered him back into his crib only for him to sit right up. Then stand up. I told him, I love you, go back to sleep, and left the room.
And he cried. He cried and he cried and he cried. I knew nothing was wrong and that he was so tired. He would fall asleep eventually. I gave him 20 minutes before I went in again.
In those 20 minutes I felt many things. Anger, frustration, guilt, sadness, more anger, and even more guilt. My husband was fast asleep downstairs and I was brought back to those awful awful days when my son would not let me put him down but he wouldn’t co-sleep anymore and I was exhausted, alone, angry and sad. I felt it all again and my thoughts went to the baby growing in my belly and I thought: I can’t do this again. How am I going to do this again!!??
I took a few deep breaths and went back into his room, picked him up, cuddled him and again he fell asleep. Tears fell down my cheeks as I let the frustration drain out of me. I dreaded laying him back down, I just knew he’d cry again. And he did. So I went into our room, grabbed a blanket and a pillow and lay down on the floor next to his crib. I’ve never done that before. I felt like he just needed comfort. It’s been a rough week – first week at daycare and all, and I wanted him to know that I was there.
So there I was, 31 weeks pregnant, laying on my son’s floor. For 30 minutes I listened to him chatter, cry, chatter some more, jump, cry again, and chatter some more. Finally I said, I can’t do this anymore. My hips ached and he was obviously not going to fall asleep with me in the room.
I picked him up, sang him his bedtime song, told him I loved him and said goodnight. I laid him in his crib for the fourth time that night and closed the door behind me. He didn’t settle for another 30 minutes and I just kept telling myself, I did everything I could.
But did I?
I hate these situations. I never feel like I did enough (maybe I should have just played with him until he was super sleepy). I question my instincts (I shouldn’t have gone in in the first place, I made matters worse). I get angry with my husband (why do I have to be the one up with him, feeling these things). I get frustrated with myself (I need to be better at controlling my emotions). And most of all, I just feel so sad.
I’m so scared to go through all that again with a newborn. We’ve been so lucky to have our son sleep through the night pretty consistently from 10 months on, but those months leading up were fucking hard. And that night I was reminded of it all. I don’t know if I can do this again.