Elijah has never really been a good sleeper. Not bad, but definitely not good. When he was an infant, I would spend forever trying to get him to sleep to only have him nap for a half hour. I read the books. I followed the directions. I wrote down all of his sleeping and eating and...other (wink wink nod nod) habits. He still didn't sleep well...it didn't really matter what we did. Or how much I tried to figure out his patterns.
We'd go through phases. For awhile, we'd be able to lay him down in bed and he'd go to sleep on his own. Then it'd stop and I'd end up rocking him to sleep. He'd wake in the middle of the night and I'd end up spending half of the night sleeping in a rocking chair because I was so tired.
Once in awhile, he'd sleep through the night. We'd think it was a new pattern. "What did we do last night?" we'd ask ourselves in the morning. We'd try to replicate the exact same steps...to no avail. There just didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to his sleep patterns. Sometimes he sleeps, sometimes he doesn't. (It's still pretty much like this).
Right now, Elijah is probably the best sleeper he's ever been. He takes a solid nap every afternoon after lunch, which is consistently an hour and a half. It's glorious, he never slept like that when he was a baby (45 minutes was good back in babyhood days).
Remember how we moved Elijah to a toddler bed? It was the right decision -he used to cry every night when he had to go to bed and he'd hit his head on the crib railings. We've switched things up a bit...A few months ago we decided to buy a twin mattress as he was falling out of the toddler bed. He wasn't getting hurt. (In fact, one night we heard him fall out of bed onto the pillows we had piled below. Andy went in to check on him to find him still asleep on the pillows). Regardless, we knew we needed to find a different sleeping solution. It wasn't working. So, now we have a mattress on the floor with a small toddler railing to help him feel a little more contained.
Having the mattress on the floor was really just meant to be temporary, but we haven't found a bed that we've been satisfied with just yet. Well, not one within our price range anyway. I found a special needs bed that I've drooled over, but it's a bit out of our price range. $3800 I didn't care, I was still admiring it. $3800 I could just zipper Elijah in and he'd jump around (safely) and eventually go to sleep. $3800. He couldn't bang his head on the floor. $3800. Wouldn't it be glorious? $3800. I think it'd be a good thing if we can teach Elijah how to sleep in a standard bed. $3800 I'm pretty sure we will get there. $3800 Right? $3800 Yes, yes, we will. $3800. Not having that bed is a good thing. $3800. We don't need it. $3800. In all seriousness, though, we don't need it. Not just because it's $3800, but because I'm sure we'll be able to teach him how to sleep in a standard ol' bed...maybe with some padding on the walls if needed. I hope.
The only problem with not being in a crib is that Elijah can get out of bed. Um, yeah. Every night either Andy or I sit by Elijah's bed until he falls asleep. He'll sit up and we'll lie him back down. It's not that big of a deal, really, but it's getting old. Fed up, two nights ago I decided we needed to do something about it.
So, I decided to let him get out of bed instead of sitting right next to him. When he got out, I'd tell him it was bedtime and put him back in bed. Then with each subsequent escape, I silently put him back in bed. The first night, I didn't count how many times Elijah got out of bed. It felt like a hundred times. Last night he got out 36 times. Tonight, 15. I'm hoping that at some point we can lie him in his bed, tell him we love him and leave the room and he'll sleep. That's the goal anyway - if I don't go insane in the meantime. I know that the only way this is going to work is if we're consistent.
It's interesting to me how he reacted tonight verses last night. Elijah would wait longer in-between his escape attempts. Sometimes, he'd get to the edge of the bed, sit there for a few moments and then get out, knowing full well what was going to happen once he got out. He goofed around in his bed more. He decided to add standing on the bed and mouthing the wall in his repertoire ("Look, I'm not getting out of bed, mom. You didn't say anything about not mouthing the walls!"). He's a resourceful guy. So, I had to add not letting him stand on his bed or mouth his wall to my repertoire of behaviors to stop. To me, these things show what a smart guy he is, though. Just like any other kid, he's trying to get out of going to bed. If he could he'd be asking for "just one more glass of water.pleeeeeaaase?"
He's still getting up in the middle of the night. But, last night, all I had to do was place him back in bed and he went back to sleep (instead of him needing me to stay in the room for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour). And, drum roll....he's not hitting his head on the floor in the middle of the night anymore! Well, it hasn't stopped completely (he did it just last night), but it's rare now instead of being an every night guarantee.
I know some of my blogging friends deal with much more sleeping issues than we do. Hugs to you! I think interrupted sleep is probably one of the hardest parts of being a parent. And that goes for all of us...you don't have to have a kid with special needs to know what this is like. In fact, I know this is an issue than many parents have to work through.
I just have to add, I really have no idea what I'm doing. I remember reading some advice once on a support group on how to get your kid to sleep in their bed and this is what I think the advice was - to keep putting them back in bed. Makes sense to me. Elijah definitely learns by repetition and he's already showing that he's understanding what's going on. Someday, he'll sleep through the night every night. And someday I will too. Um, I think I'm going to bed now.
Wow, this was a long rambling post. Um, goodnight? I hope.