The Bad Nights Aren’t So Bad

Martin’s had two nighttime disturbance in the past two weeks.

Last Tuesday I heard him crying at 10:40 p.m. Crying usually signals a nightmare or some other fright, and such was the case. He had fallen out of bed. He was plopped on the hardwood floor, clutching his stuffed elephant, confused. I lifted him back into bed, checked for damage, reassured him while rubbing his back, then returned to the kitchen as he dozed back off.

This Tuesday he woke me by calling “Mommy! Mommy!” at 1:10 a.m., from his bed. That’s a worse sign; calling for me indicates that Martin is fully awake, and going to be up for a while. I went to his room and said, “Martin! It’s still nighttime. Go back to sleep until morning.”

“I want you to get in my bed,” Martin replied.

“No. I’m going to sit outside your door. You go back to sleep.”

“I want you to sit in the rocking chair,” Martin said. The rocking chair is in his room.

“No. But I’ll be right out here,” I said and exited his room, leaving the door ajar. I stepped into my and Adrian’s room—our door is only four feet from Martin’s, across a small landing—to retrieve my iPad.

Martin started to cry. “Mommy! Mommy! I want you to come inside.”

“Martin!” I said from just outside his door as I powered up the iPad. “You’re fine. I’m right here. Go back to sleep.”

He cried a little more, called, “Mommy! Mommy!”, and fell silent.

I sat down and scrolled through my friends’ Facebook statuses. Since I’d also done that right before I fell asleep 90 minutes earlier, there wasn’t much to read.

Martin started up again. “Ah, Mommy! Ah, Mommy!”

“Martin! Don’t be silly. It’s sleepy-time. Sleep.” I closed Facebook and called up a Scrabble game I had in progress against “CPU.” CPU was beating me by 95 points.

Ten minutes passed. I shut off the iPad, to gauge whether Martin would react when the glow disappeared from outside his door. Nothing. I waited another couple minutes, then quietly rose and returned to bed. It was around 1:30 a.m. I fell asleep.

“Mommy! Mommy!”

2:02 a.m. He was at it again. I stayed in bed and called, “Martin, it’s sleepy-time. Sleepy-time!” Next to me Adrian groaned and flipped onto his stomach.

“Ah, Mommy!”

“Martin, stop it! Go to sleep.”

Silence, then sudden crying. Martin was going to push the point. I got back up, grabbed the iPad again, and returned to my perch outside Martin’s still-ajar door. “I’m sitting right here,” I said. “Sleepy-time.”

Martin stopped crying and started chatting to himself: “You’re right there. Mommy is sitting right there. Mommy is right there.”

No new Facebook status updates. More Scrabble for me. Big defeat to CPU. I’ve got to stop setting the Scrabble difficulty level to hard, at least when I’m playing half-asleep. I shut the iPad off and listened for a reaction from Martin. Nothing. I snuck back to bed and dozed off.

“Mommy! Ah, Mommy!”

2:54 a.m. Martin was still awake. I called to him from my bed, eliciting more rumblings from Adrian. This time Martin didn’t push the point. Without crying, he said, “You’re right there.”

“Yes. I’m right here.” I didn’t leave my bed. I fell back to sleep.

Martin woke me at least twice more; the last time I recall was around 3:40 a.m. Each time I was able to quiet him without getting up again. Finally I heard no more from Martin, and I slept until my 6:00 a.m. alarm.

I estimate that, in total, Martin was probably awake for three hours. I entered his room just once. About 40 minutes of the three hours I spent crouched outside his door with my iPad. The remainder of the period I slept, albeit with interruptions.

I would not describe this as a good night. Not by any means. But it is progress. We aren’t so far from the time when Martin routinely woke for three-, four-, and even five-hour stretches during the night, and either Adrian or I had to be in his room every minute until he returned to sleep. Sure, he was up this Tuesday night, but (1) it was an unusual occurrence, (2) for the most part he stayed alone, and (3) eventually he got himself back to sleep.

Sure, I had to be up, too, and my calling out from our bed bothered Adrian. But for the most part, I remained horizontal, in my own bed. Anyone who suffers chronic lack of sleep will tell you—horizontal rocks.

Go to sleep, little man. Seriously. Sleep. Please.

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