Thursday, May 1, 2008

The wild animal in the bedroom

So Mateo is out of a crib! I was convinced he would stay in a crib till he was 4, but it seems he was ready much sooner. So he's out of a crib....but not quite in a bed. Allow me to explain.

The reason we got rid of the crib was because Mateo decided to, once again, completely throw us for a loop. My wonderful, glorious sleeper has all of the sudden turned into a screaming banchee. We're not exactly sure why this happened. It might have to do with the stomach flu he had a couple months ago, when he was up 4-5 times a night throwing up and pooping his brains out. If you want to scare an over-eager spouse into not having children, send them to me and I'll give them all the gory details.

Anyway, we think he started a habit of waking up during the middle night screaming and crying and now he just can't stop without us having us to help him. First of all, he is very particular (and by that I mean, OCD) about the placement of his blanket and "Cowie" (his stuffed cow. I know, not a very creative name. You try thinking creative on a mixture of fear, adrenaline, and 2 hours of sleep. Where do you think we got the name, Mateo?) But when we go in his room when he cries, his blanket and "Cowie" are thrown "overboard". And he can not sleep without them, especially "Cowie".

So, for a while we thought we would try the "cry it out" technique. For those of you non-parents or co-sleeping parents, "cry it out" is when you do, literally, nothing. Or in my case, turn off the monitor. Not because I can't stand the sound of my kid crying, but because my son has turned the "cry it out" technique into the "scream-so-loud-that-your-parents-want-to-rip-their-eardrums-out" technique.

While I attempted to let my son learn to self-soothe by not going to him at every wail, I couldn't help but worry about one thing. That he accidently threw his "Cowie" overboard while he was still sleeping and when he woke up needing comfort, it wasn't there. Which wouldn't be his fault because he can't help what he does in his sleep. (And I should know, ask my husband.) I couldn't live with myself wondering whether I was further traumatizing my child by letting him "cry it out" without his dear "Cowie". I know I couldn't sleep without my duckie blanket....uh....did I say that outloud?

But, we also didn't want to keep getting up 12 times a night to hand Mateo his Cowie either. So I thought of the brilliant idea (they all sound brilliant at 2 in the morning) to move him out of the crib. Here's the catch. The goal was for Mateo to be able to reach his blanket and Cowie himself if it should happen to fall. But we didn't think we was ready for a toddler bed because he sleeps like some kind of cirque de solei performer in training. I was worried he would fall off a toddler bed, even with a guard rail on.

So these concerns led us to transition him from his crib to a brand new big boy bed consisting of.... his crib mattress on the floor. Most parents plan a lengthy transition of allowing the child to pick out the new bed, sleep next to the new bed for several nights, and sometimes even repaint and furnish the entire room. Who has time for such details? We went for a much simpler approach. One day the crib was there, the next day it wasn't. And of course, with taking away the crib comes a lot of freedom for Mateo during the night to roam about his bedroom, playing with toys, rearranging furniture, lighting things on fire, etc. So for that reason we took out everything in his room except for the bare essentials and the mattress (which lies in a corner on the floor). So his room now resembles that of a POW prison.

Here's what went down the first night in his new "bed". We decided earlier we would go in the room one time per night to lay him back down and reassure him, but after that, he was on his own. I felt better about the "cry it out" technique if I know Mateo has access to his "Cowie". But soon into the night, Mateo wakes up for the second time, and we don't intervene. It was awful!

I should mention, when Mateo is upset and angry, he is upset and angry with his whole body! So, he didn't just cry until he felt tired and went back to sleep. He screamed, cried, kicked the wall and mattress and floor, ran around the room stomping his feet, banged on the door, and I swear, he picked up the rocking chair and threw it at one point. I so wish I had a video monitor that night because I heard some noises I've never heard coming from a kid's room before. It sounded like we let a wild animal loose in his room....with him in it! And he was winning. After about 10 minutes of feeling like we were listening to a predator special on animal planet, we hear the stomping of feet moving closer and closer and closer to our bedroom door. This is the conversation that transpired. I swear I am not making this up.

Honey! I think he got out. I think he's loose!

Shh! He might hear you!
(long pause)

Quick! Get the dart gun.

Okay, that last part is made up. But it's really funny to imagine two grown adults afraid of a midget toddler stumbling around the house in the dark in a wild rampage. Of course we got up to hug him and lovingly put him back to bed. And thankfully, that was the worst of it.

Now it hasn't been perfect, but he wakes up crying much less often. And when he does wake up, he cries for a few minutes, then settles back down to sleep. Although I do get concerned about the random banging noises I hear throughout the night. His mattress is right next to a wall and several times a night we hear a loud bang coming from his room and then silence. That's probably the reason he's sleeping so well. Numerous concussions. But I always turn the monitor up to make sure he's still breathing. See, I'm a good mom!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

maybe you could watch the animal planet shows that allow the "main characters" to get a little too close, then you would be able to plan out your escape technique for when the "wild" 2am Mateo attacks the grown ups.