Alice is in that stage where she’s transitioning away from naps and is simultaneously afraid of the dark and sleeping in her own room. She’s experiencing nightmares. Mostly she does everything she can to put off sleeping until the pass-out stage of the night at around 2:00 AM. And the ONE time I fell asleep in her room before she did, she clubbed me in the head with a wooden toy to get my attention. Fun times. I think I’m slightly concussed.
So, why don’t we do a little tough love and lock her in her room until she gets used to putting herself to sleep again? Isn’t this a phase? Aren’t we enabling her or causing more issues by sleeping in her room with her, letting her play and watch cartoons until she finally gives in? Because my heart breaks when she screams and cries out of fear and anxiety. I can’t do it. My husband can’t do it.
When Alice had her heart surgery, the hospital was a scary place for her. She was covered in wires, locked in a baby cage type crib with nurses coming in every few hours to check on her or draw some blood. They were wonderful at Boston Children’s. All the doctors and nurses were kind and supportive. But Alice was 8 months old. She didn’t understand what was going on. She’d wake up screaming and frantically search for Mum or Dad before being able to calm down. If we weren’t there, she’d pull at the tubes and wires and try to climb the crib, desperate to find us. As a result, she developed a sleep fear that made things extra challenging for another 6 or 8 months after her operation. I had to hold her hand while she slept for a long time.
This phase is so much like her sleeping troubles after her operation that I have to wonder—is she having nightmares about her surgery? Are the scary shapes in the dark similar to the ones in her hospital room? She’s checking to see if Wayne or I are there, just like she did before, unable to stop crying unless one of us is holding her hand.
Maybe babies remember more than we give them credit for.