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A New Twist

Madeleine’s been sleeping much better at night recently.  I’ve been promising the mother of all sleep blogs and it’s coming; now that I’ve gotten some distance (and sleep) from the past couple of months I can find patterns and sort it all out and get it written.


But first, I’ve got a new spin on the sleep problem that just cropped up two nights ago, and I’m stumped.  So been-there-done-that moms, I’d appreciate it if you’d speak up if you’ve got any ideas.

Maddie usually nurses right before bed; maybe 60% of the time she’ll go to sleep while the rest of the time I’ll put her down awake. She’s always been content and drifted off to sleep on her own. I mean, since we originally sleep-trained her, though even that was not too difficult. Our sleep problems have always been of the middle-of-the-night variety.

So the past couple of weeks Madeleine’s been back on track, going to sleep and not waking for at least eight hours. On the rare occasion she does wake, I come in her room and find her standing up waiting for me, lay her back down and she drifts right off to sleep.

Two nights ago, she was clearly not dozing off during nursing so after several minutes of snuggling I put her down in her crib. As soon as I left the room she began wailing, speed-crawled to the edge by the door, and screamed at the door until I came back in. I put her back down and comforted her and she quieted immediately.

Until I left the room, at which point she repeated the performance.

I went to the Ferber 5 minutes, all of which was spent at high-volume crying. Went back in, put her down, comforted her, she rolled over and dozed off. I left, and you guessed it.

Ten more minutes, and I went back in, repeated the whole thing, and when I left she cried halfheartedly and finally gave up and went to sleep maybe 60 seconds later.

I chalked it up as a fluke, but she did it again last night going to bed. And if that weren’t bad enough, she woke up after seven hours and did it all over again. It took an hour of me going in and comforting and waiting for her to go to sleep, creeping out, her waking up, lather, rinse, repeat.

Anyone have any ideas? She’s eleven months old, clearly knows how to self-comfort since she puts herself to sleep numerous times throughout the night. She’s not hungry; she does it right after nursing and won’t return to nursing even if I pick her back up. She started separation anxiety early – around four months old – but I’m wondering if this is it going to the next level. It’s as if she needs to see that I’ll come back, that I’m not leaving her forever. My gut says it’s some sort of separation anxiety, like she’s just realized I should exist while I’m not near her, but I just don’t know.

And her naps have been fine – no change in them at all.

This is that point in any parenting dilemma where you start to worry about what you’re doing. If it’s a short-term thing, I want to help her through it as painlessly as possible. If it’s just a new thing, though, I don’t want to add “Go in and comfort her three times” to our nightly routine. Know what I mean? Those five minutes of listening to my child scream are spent alternately praying vigorously for her and mentally second-guessing myself over and over.

As you’ll see when I finally get the past couple of months written up, we’ve been through the developmental spurts as sleep interruptions, the growth spurts causing hunger as sleep interruptions, and more. This seems different.

I just don’t know what it is.

And I hate that.

Where’s her dang instruction book???


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