January 12, 2009

A Slippery Slope

Over the holidays, at “home” in Northern New Jersey, I found myself walking down the street in Montclair. It was Christmas Eve, and though the ground was white, the sky was gray. The freezing rain that fell chilled my bones. It pooled on the sidewalks, collecting on top of everything, including the ice and snow from a storm days before.

Just south of Valley road, I began to pick up speed. My feet skimmed the surface of the ice covered bricks that replaced the traditional sidewalk in this up-and-coming section of town. I found myself starting to lose control, and remembered navigating the old, perpetually unplowed hill, that was my route to and from the bus stop as a child. My muscle memory told me that trying to stop would surely result in disaster. It also told me that speeding up, should the end of my makeshift ice rink not appear soon, would result in a brief hospital stay. While contemplating a quick dive to the right into a nearby snow bank, I spotted the end of my red brick luge, and decided to push forward, impending traction be damned. I narrowly made it to the end, heart racing, legs flailing like Fred Flintstone, walk-running in simultaneous slow motion and silent movie haste.

Back in the warmth that is the Barnes and Noble on Bethesda Avenue here in Maryland, it dawns on me that my trip down the icy sidewalk of Montclair is not dissimilar to my efforts to get my daughters to sleep through the night. Once you start down a certain path, changing directions is nearly impossible, and stopping will surely result in similar disaster. Can you wind up in the hospital from lack of sleep?

If you will recall, I declared victory over Tilda’s sleep patterns nearly four weeks ago. Since then, we have taken that trip to New Jersey for Christmas, dealt with a head cold, and held our noses through a particularly malodorous stomach bug. These events all conspired to undo my hard work. And like the first step onto those glaring bricks, feeding Matilda in the middle of the night sent me sliding down the path to sleep deprivation.

Since our return to Chevy Chase, and that first bottle, this is exactly how my nighttime life has played out. That first time, I fed Tilda around four in the morning, because her nose was clogged. Then I fed her at one in the morning, because her diarrhea had breached her size two Pampers. The next thing I knew, she was up at the ungodly, and decidedly infantile hours, of ten, one, and four. Five months down the drain in two short weeks of bad breaks.

I have always maintained that a parent doesn’t decide to sleep train—in any capacity—until they are at the end of their rope. Last night I reached that frayed end, and let my darling, chubby cheeked, pink skinned little girl cry herself to sleep. She pulled off the feat at bedtime, but failed at ten, crying for over an hour until I fed her. At four, she cried for an amount of time between five minutes and forty-five minutes—I passed out on the couch—and slept until nine o’clock this morning.

Within that topsy-turvy night, there were victories and defeats. At this point I know better then to call it one way or another. You never know when the next virus or cold will spring up. Or, for that matter, when Tilda will decide she likes to sleep with no intervention at all. When it comes to sleep in our house, it has always been a bit of a crapshoot, and it has always been a slippery slope.


Blogger Lizzie G said...

A wise Costa Rican guide once warned us, as we followed him through the mud covered, hilly trails of the rain forest, "Don't try to grab anything to break your fall, just go with it. The thing you grab could cut or poison you! Better just to go with the fall!" Not sure how this can be applied to your situation, but just in case watch out!

January 12, 2009 at 6:17 PM  
Blogger Dani said...

I am simpathetic to your plea. We were at this totally rad festival this weekend and were kept up by the grooving tunes. All we could do was get up,drink another beer, and dance our asses off. That's almost like having two infants isn't it? :)

January 13, 2009 at 2:30 AM  

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