A Taboo Subject?
This girl rocks.
Figuratively, of course, because she's pretty wonderful, and we love her lots.
But, most certainly literally.
You see, starting around her first birthday, she started rocking in her bed during naps and before bedtime. She didn't do it a whole lot, but it was enough that we noticed it, as her rocking would get so rough (the sides of those things are springy!) that she'd practically bounce off the wall if the playpen was too close. She doesn't suck her thumb or take a pacifier, so this, for some reason, became her soothing mechanism of choice.
When we moved her to a crib, the rocking became even more persistent. And far noisier. I started to find her crib halfway across the room most mornings. I began putting grippy strips under the legs of the bed and little bumper pads on the backs of the side rails that touched the wall. None of that would have been an issue, except she's keeping Jack (and me) awake, which is not great.
The grippy things only last for so long, and after a while, she ends up rocking the bed off of them and across the room. Exhibit A from last night.
Although she still does it a little bit before naps, and a lot before bedtime, the middle of the nights have been getting far worse, with her waking in the wee morning hours and doing it for hours. Last night was a particularly awful night, and she rocked and hummed/moaned for 2 solid hours starting at 3am, her chosen time of waking. I don't know if it's an external thing with noises outside waking her or if it's strictly internal, but I know she's beyond sleep deprived. It's affecting her naps (which would typically be 2 1/2 to 3 hours and are now down to maybe an hour), and she wakes early and rocks the rest of the time trying to relax her body enough to go back to sleep (which rarely happens, so I get to listen to an hour or more of rocking in the afternoons, as well. Fun.).
It's a really hard thing to listen to every. single. day (and during the night). Other than two nights ago when out of deep desperation, I put her in our room in the playpen, Jack slept in his crib, and I slept on the couch, I have not slept for more than 4 consecutive hours in months. Most days, I am a cranky, exhausted mess trying to deal with a cranky, exhausted toddler (or two because WHO can sleep through constant hammering and humming for two hours straight?).
I have read countless articles like this one (it won't let me link it, so here's the website if you're interested http://sleepeducation.blogspot.com/2009/02/my-child-bangs-his-head-in-bed-as-he.html?m=1), and I have poured through all of the comments. Every single one says it's normal. They all say they'll eventually grow out of it (usually by 3-4....um, holy crap, my sanity will be completely gone if I have to listen to that for another 18-30 months, just sayin'). The comments are really what get me. I know they're supposed to be comforting, but they really aren't. A lot are from adults who rocked as children, and most rocked into adulthood. What the heck am I supposed to do with that??! That means no one will be sleeping in this house for another 18 years at least. I am so sad.
After last night, I decided that I was not going to let her do that anymore, especially during naps. She woke an hour into her nap (after getting way less sleep last night than her body requires on a normal basis), and I went in and laid her down to stop the rocking. She cried. She was furious that I wouldn't allow her to slam her body repeatedly into the bars of her crib. I held my hand on her back for 45 minutes, and she continued to cry because she wanted to rock so badly. I am now sitting outside her room on the very cold wood floor, and every time she rocks, I go in and lay her back down and more crying ensues. It's been a long hour and a half to almost two hours. I've gotten nothing done, including the two baskets of laundry on my couch. I'm frustrated and tired (because, obviously, I didn't get a nap either).
The reason I'm writing this (and also the reason for the title) is I feel like this is an unspoken thing. It's gotta be. We can't be the only family out there among my family and friends whose kid soothes herself by rocking her body so hard that she moves her bed and wakes the entire household every night. Why doesn't anyone ever talk about it? Why is it hidden?
I can't keep her in the playpen (which gives off the least amount of sound if pulled away from the walls) for the rest of her life, and I can't continue functioning on 4-5 hours of broken sleep each night while she "sleeps" in a hard-sided bed.
So, come on, family and friends. Tell me we're not alone. Tell me that you've dealt with this, that you came up with some winning solution for everyone involved, that you survived, that your kid wasn't damaged. But, please, don't tell me it's going to be ok. I don't need it to be ok 10 years from now. I need for my children and myself to go back to sleeping well.
I need this girl to sleep, mostly so I stop taking out my lividness on every human that crosses my path. True story: the day after I got that full night of sleep a few nights ago? I felt so good. Nothing bothered me...not even her hour-long rocking that afternoon.
So, there's that. So speak up, people. Ask your friends if their kids act as nutty as my kiddo acts in those moments, and pass along the info. I'm desperate.
While awake for nearly 4 hours this morning, I came across this article.
Except for the crying at night, everything else (waking early from naps, fighting going to sleep, waking in the middle of the night, etc.) all sounds pretty spot on. So there's hope that with consistency in our part, this 18 month sleep regression will pass. Then we have the 2 year regression to look forward to, hah! Hopefully, we'll have the strength to be just as diligent.