I had two challenges:
1. Spenser had been going through his 18 month sleep regression (as I diagnosed it) since July; so officially age 16 1/2 months to 19 1/2 months. This involved Spenser and mommy waking up every 2-3 hours… even though he’s in his own room, in his crib (I have a small place,) I wake up!
2. I had a meeting coming up and my sister (my only babysitter) couldn’t babysit. My close friend Ali had offered to watch Spenser with her 7 year old daughter (who S adores) and I said yes, but I was a nervous wreck.
Challenge 1: I read all the books. I read all the sleep training books. I was nursing at night so night weaning was a part of the issue. The old methods weren’t working. The books weren’t working – Spenser was outsmarting the “no cry” techniques. His red rimmed eyes each morning were making me sad. I wanted my son to sleep well again. His desire to comfort nurse was hurting him.
I had to night wean.
Many of the books attribute this sleep disruption to separation anxiety.
I was telling some of my married mom friends about my sleep woes and one of my friends said, “When sleep regression happened to us, I sent my husband in. That’s the only way we could really get sleeping back.”
It was one of those Ummmm, that doesn’t help me MOM SOLO-moments.
But then she said, “Maybe one of us can sleep over and help.” All my friends nodded.
I knew they would do that. My friends have really been so supportive and helpful. They all brought me food when I had my newborn and some held S while I napped or showered. I’ve always felt quite lucky.
But I didn’t ask them to sleep over. It’s hard for me to ask for help. I always try to do things myself. I put together a combo of techniques, spent many nights without sleep and had to plug my ears when “Ma! Ma!” was shouted at 3am by a little one who wanted to comfort nurse.
One night after many months of trying sleep training methods, when Spenser was calling me and I was out of my mind with exhaustion, I went in his room, hugged him and said, “I love you but it’s sleepy time.” I put him down and he let out a wail, then rolled over and went to sleep. I was in shock! This reaction gave me courage. I continued with this hug technique and eventually, he slept through the night.
I did it solo. Spenser and I did it together. I was really proud of us.
If you are interested in the step by step, let me know and I’ll really lay it out for you.
Challenge 2: So this was an ideal situation, bringing S to my friend Ali’s house… so why was a sick to my stomach nervous?
If I had a partner, would I be more used to leaving S? I rarely ever leave him. I don’t have help like a nanny or sitter and when I do have to work, my sister watches him at my place or at my dad’s. So, the idea of leaving him to my friend’s house, terrified me – even though, we are at this house 2 or 3 times a month! He knew this home and loved these people.
I knew I was having my own separation anxiety. I wanted to cry and scream and demand to bring my child to my meeting. But I couldn’t. I had to separate for a few hours and it was painful for me. My anxiety manifested in fantasy fear (but not totally irrational,) which I shared with Ali:
“I’m afraid he’ll try to eat rocks,” I told her. This fear was based in some reality. She has rocks in her yard and S loves to put them in his mouth.
“OK,” she answered so calmly.
“And, I’m afraid he’ll choke on rocks. Or grapes,” I told her. Ali does like the healthy snack of grapes and being a wonderful hostess, usually has them.
“I will watch him like a hawk,” she said.
“It’s not that I don’t trust you…” I said.
“I totally understand,” she said.
When I left Spenser, he was happily at the piano with Ali and her daughter.
“Bye!” S waved after I had given him as many kisses as I could.
“Bye!” I said, trying to sound happy. “I love you, see you soon!” I left.
My stomach hurt, but I knew S was in great hands. I missed him, in a deep way… in a close to panic way… but this was an important separation. I had to work.
Ali texted me a few times to let me know all was well.
When I got back to Ali’s house I found them in the back yard. Spenser was holding a stick and walking calmly. “Hi!” I called to him, holding my arms open.
When he saw me, his face filled with feeling; not happy, not sad, but just intense emotion. He walked to me quickly and jumped my lap enclosing my arms around him. I felt his little heart pounding. I wondered what he thought when he saw me. I hugged him until he was ready to stand and his heart returned to normal beats. We stayed at Ali’s and played a while longer. I felt such huge accomplishment. I was so proud of myself and of S. We did it.
Even though I did it alone, I couldn’t have done this alone.
Mom Solos need help sometimes. That’s hard for me to admit, but it’s true. I have it in my mind that I can do everything alone.