By Hilary Doyle of SimplyWriteous.com
White noise streams through my phone tucked under the pillow on which I lay my head, a second pillow pushed tightly against the ear open to the room.
Attempts to drown out the noise from the party going on next door.
Is he a good sleeper?
The question I’m asked often, as people inquire about my 20-month-old son, rolls through my head.
He’s a terrible sleeper, in fact.
The party next door? All the happy yelling and laughing and jumping and glee? It’s coming from the room of said 20-month-old.
He’s not a good sleeper, never has he been.
From the first sips of milk right after birth, gastro-intestinal issues reared their ugly head. Months and months of trial and error under the direction of medical specialists to figure what could be done to make him more comfortable has resulted in horrible sleep habits. Habits we’ve tried and tried and tried…and failed…to break.
Answering the question about whether or not he is a good sleeper is nearly as draining as is listening to all the suggestions about what might help. You know, because he “should” be sleeping without issue through the night by this time, I’ve been well informed. Just in case my education and training in mental health – to include expertise in human growth and development – left out this detail.
I am well versed in what is “normal” and age appropriate in most circumstances for this stage in development. I’ve done the research and we’ve tried everything within our reach to help the sleeping (or lack thereof) issue, including all suggestions from the pediatrician.
We’ve had the same bedtime routine for his entire existence. Certain sounds stream into the room for nap and bed time. Dim light is allowed in the room during the day, but not at night. We encourage an active lifestyle and limit sugar, especially later in the day. Caffeine is an absolute no-no. All supplements recommended by the pediatrician have aided in no way. We’ve worked through the dreaded “cry it out.”
I could go on and on an on.
But here’s the thing: he’s not crying. He’s not upset. He is well able to get himself back to sleep, if he wants.
He’s just awake.
WIDE awake and entertaining himself…loudly.
I wish he needed something I could help with: rescuing a pacifier haphazardly tossed over the side of the crib, a clean and dry diaper, a dose of Tylenol, a quick snuggle and tuck back in, adjustment to the temperature in the room.
But his pacifier is securely attached to his PJs and stuffed in his mouth. His diaper is no worse for the wear. I can find no acceptable reason for a dose of Tylenol (or any other medication, for that matter). The room temperature is perfect, and my presence (if even for snuggles, rocking and tucking back in) is received as an invitation to play.
Nearly every night, save for a couple throughout the month, this little man parties. Anywhere between one and three hours, before finally falling back into dream world. Meanwhile, I do what I’m able to drown it out and attempt to secure some sleep of my own until the party reaches its inevitable end and quiet overtakes our home once again.
So, no, he isn’t a good sleeper.
Please stop asking. Please stop reminding me what he “should” be doing by this age and stage and for the love of all things, hold the suggestions. I appreciate your concern and desire to help, but chances are: we’ve tried to no avail and no one loathes this more than me. I promise.
-The mom who hasn’t had a good night’s rest in 20+ months.
About the Author
Hilary is a wife and mom to three little ones living in Colorado. She traded in her work in mental health to write and stay home with her family. It’s not quite the rich and fabulous housewife gig she envisioned prior to kids, but somehow they make the lifestyle of the not rich/not famous work. She enjoys coffee, reading, gardening, cooking and projects/DIY. You can follow her at SimplyWriteous.com or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TheSimplyEclecticLife and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/3_3_15_simplywriteous/.