Monday, October 17, 2011

many changes afoot

on top of the pregnancy (almost nausea free at 16 weeks), we decided to add toilet and sleep training because there's nothing like an extra dose of chaos to keep us on our toes.

the diaper-free movement was precipitated by our sense that leon was ready. plus, it seems like all of the toddlers here in toronto are diaper-free by the time they're two or two and a half. in general it's been going well, but we haven't been completely consistent about keeping him diaperless during the weekends, mornings, and evenings. if he's wearing underwear, there are accidents, but when i just put babylegs on (he complains of the cold), we're 100% successful with pee. i'm hoping the poop will sort itself out eventually. he wears pull-ups at preschool, and apparently he's been using the potty most of the time. he's gotten to the point where he definitely tries to hold it until he's offered the potty, but i don't think he actively seeks it out. this morning he complained that he had peed a lot and that his diaper was squishy and heavy.

the more exciting development has been on the sleep front. since mid may leon has been sleeping with matthew exclusively. i just couldn't take it anymore because i was nursing all night, sick with a horrible cold, and two days shy of defending my dissertation. ever since, it's been great (for me). leon would wake up more infrequently, often only once a night, and everyone seemed to be happier. and then we moved to toronto. matthew moved back to cambridge to work for a month. leon and i went to california for a month. i went to southern new mexico to visit a friend for two nights. and suddenly leon was completely weaned at 30 months. hooray!

but then we came back to toronto in september and moved AGAIN in october to a larger, quieter, and cleaner apartment that was closer to pre-school and work. in the past two weeks leon's sleep deteriorated rapidly. he would wake up and scream and beg to go to mama. he and matthew would argue and bargain for an hour at a time. we were all cranky, me especially. after over 2 years of sleep deprivation, i had absolutely no tolerance for a regression. i understood that leon was dealing with a lot of traumatic changes, but i just couldn't take it anymore. so i asked a friend for her sleep-training advice, and we decided to take another stab at cry it out.

now, we've tried gradual sleep training before, but every time we would hit a wall. but somehow this time leon was ready, and so were we.

on the first night, matthew read leon a few books and then told him that he loved him and that it was time for bed. he turned off the light and left. we had reinstalled the baby gate so we could keep the door open. leon screamed and cried and begged. after two minutes, matthew went back in, said the same thing, and left. four minutes, same thing. eight minutes, and then sixteen minutes. at this point leon threw up. we went in and cleaned it up without saying anything. thirty two minutes passed, and suddenly silence. matthew went in after twenty minutes and saw that leon had burrowed under the duvet. he uncovered him and left. at 5 am leon woke up and shouted that he was ALL DONE. i decided to let him come into bed with me, and we slept for two more hours.

on the second night, leon began to voice his anxieties an hour before bedtime. he was clearly dreading the moment of being left alone. he kept talking about how sad he was because he was all alone. when matthew left him, he cried for 10 seconds and then was silent for a few minutes before demanding that we say
Night Night. after two minutes, matthew went in and said his lines. twenty minutes later leon began shouting and yelling. five minutes later he shouted that we needed to change his diaper because he had pooped. i questioned this for a second before going in. he had indeed pooped. we changed it quickly without a word. after that, silence. again leon had covered his head with the duvet. i was concerned because it was synthetic and unbreathable, so we switched it with a cotton quilt. apparently it makes him feel better to have his head covered. leon slept until 4.50 am, at which point i let him sleep with me.

last night, leon went to sleep without a sound. i checked him after 10 minutes and uncovered his face. he slept until 2 am, shouted briefly, and then was quiet. at 4.40 am he awoke and declared he was all done. matthew went into his room and slept with him for an hour. then leon decided to come into my bed and sleep for 40 more minutes.

so far, so good. i really do believe that as much as we try to dictate our children's development (or at least there's this pressure to follow a timeline), unless they're ready for a change, it's difficult to do so. in some ways it's harder to let a highly verbal toddler cry alone because the things they say are heartbreaking. but when we tried to let him cry at six, and again at eleven months, the vomiting and crying were too much to take. i suspect that weaning played a huge role in our growing independence from each other. being pregnant and worrying about the next round of sleep deprivation was a major incentive, too. in the end i don't regret letting the process drag on for this long, even if it meant we appeared wildly inconsistent and undisciplined to most people. it's like a loose tooth that needs to be wiggled, prodded, and tested until the right moment comes along when you're ready to shut your eyes and give it a good and final yank. in our case, it took nearly 32 months to finally hold hands and take the plunge together.