Snake charmer, Nate

For the past few weeks (or maybe months?) Cecelia has been waking up at 4 am on the dot, crying out for MAMA MAMA MAMA over and over again. For awhile it was 5 am, then somewhere in the 4:30 range, but now we are sitting directly on top of the 4 o'clock hour with a night time wake up.

Sure, it could be worse.  Sometimes 5 o'clock isn't so bad because that's when I usually get up and run on my days off anyway. I mean, 6:00 is usually our 'acceptable goal' in this house anyway, so 5:00 wasn't all that far off. But 4 o'clock? Nope. This is a really horrible time to be awake because it's close enough to the morning that it's hard to fall back to sleep and if I do, I feel SUPER tired when I'm up around 6 because I must have been in a deeper part of sleep. And for awhile it wasn't a big deal because I'd just nurse her back to sleep and we'd all get a few more hours of the good stuff. Then she started to protest when I'd put her back in her crib so I started bringing her to our bed and would nurse in sidelying for an hour or more. It worked. Again, SLEEP!

And now--neither nursing in the rocker, nor nursing in our bed is working. She is awake and angry and very obviously still tired. It's been a battle around here from the hours of 4-6 am and I am finally ready to do something about it.

Things I've already tried: I have a sippy of water in her crib now in case she is thirsty. We try to really tank her up right before bed with good food to keep her belly full for longer. I always make sure she has her pacifier when I go in, I check to make sure she hasn't crapped her pants (still a few lingering GI issues around here), and I will tuck her in with a blanket because it's sometimes pretty cold in her room.

Check list of 'WHY is my child waking at night?' complete.

I honestly think she is waking up because she is so used to that suck-to-sleep association with nursing. It used to be no big deal but now it is. I have no idea why it's like clockwork--right at 4:00 on the dot. Is there a train that goes by each morning at that time or something? Very odd.

This morning she starting crying/calling for me at 4. I stumbled in there, made sure she didn't stink, that she wasn't cold, and that she had access to her pacifiers. I rocked her and nursed her for a few minutes then pulled her off and put her back down. I wanted to try the old tried-and-true again in case that was all it took.

She was crying in five minutes. So I sent Nate in to try his Daddy Rocking technique. I have no idea how long they were in there together but it seemed like awhile. As soon as I heard him come back to bed I also heard our daughter screaming for me again. Sigh. Yawn.

The problem with letting Cecelia cry is that she is so freaking stubborn and SO loud, plus she is a second-born. Truman is a fairly deep sleeper but from our witching hours of 4-6 am he has definitely woken up because of CC and then he will stay awake and/or be a beast all morning because of broken sleep. Not cool and I never like to have Cecelia crying for more than a few minutes mostly for Truman's sake. And I hate to hear my baby cry, obviously.

But this morning I was awake and frustrated enough to decide that this was it. This was time to attempt a loose interpretation of 'sleep training' even if that meant Truman would wake and nobody would sleep after 4 am.

So I watched the clock and decided I would go back in every 5 minutes to check and reassure her. I know actual sleep training means no touching for comfort but we are taking baby steps here, people. I just don't feel comfortable not holding her for a bit, so this process will probably take 100 times longer but whatever. After five minutes of hysterics, I went in and scooped her up, standing next to her crib. She quieted down and laid her head on my shoulder. I told her over and over, 'It's okay, CC. I love you, it's time to sleep now.' Then after about a minute I'd lay her back down with blanket, pacifier, and froggy and walk out.

This went over as well as you would expect. Holy freak out. She was not messing around now. I repeated the same check-in every five minutes ---at this point it was about 5:45 I believe, because Nate's alarm was going off. She'd calm down in my arms but cry whenever I'd leave. Each time did seem to be getting a little better but she was most definitely not asleep yet.

Then Nate asked what my plan of attack was each time I entered the room. I told him about my special 'sleepy' phrase and holding her by the crib, not in the chair. I heard him get up and comfort Cecelia. He asked if she was cold, he told her he loved her and asked, 'Aren't you really sleepy, big girl?' And, 'Will you go to sleep for me?' The next thing I knew, Nate was coming back into bed and Cecelia was quiet. It might have been around 6:00, so we had been awake for two hours.

Nate got up to get ready a little after 6 (I think) and I fell back to sleep until 7:45...when Truman finally woke up, too. Woah. New record! Luckily Nate had a later start at work this day, too and left around 8 instead of 7. I could not believe that Cecelia was still asleep, that Truman remained asleep for so long, and that Nate somehow got convinced our girl to slumber until a more reasonable hour.

She eventually woke up a little after 8 and seemed a lot more sane than she did four hours prior. Thank God this was not a work day for me and we could all sleep in. Not sure how tomorrow will go but I know we have to be firm with CC going forward.

Before Nate left for work he said, 'Is this about the age when I could reason with Truman at night?' I kind of drew a blank for a second but then I remembered: we were still at the duplex and T was still in his crib, so it might have been around 18 months or so? But whenever T would wake up in the early hours of the morning Nate would go in and ask a series of questions. He'd say, 'Are you tired buddy?' and Truman would shake his head yes. Nate would ask, 'Will you go to sleep for me, so that you can feel nice and rested?' and Truman would nod yes. And then somehow the spell Nate cast on our son would take effect and Truman would magically sleep for a few more hours.

'That is kind of what I did this morning with Cecelia,' Nate said.

Apparently when he asked her, 'Are you tired, big girl?' she said uh-huh very emphatically. Well, duh, CC. Then he asked her, 'Will you go to sleep for me?' and she shook her head yes, and followed his mysterious lead and slept. She slept, after fighting it for hours.

Nate is basically a snake charmer at this point. Who knew that simply convincing our children that they really are tired would mean they 'obey' him and go to sleep? Genius. I really hope his magical reasoning technique continues to work on our second-born like it did for number one. I honestly don't even remember the details of Truman's snake charming days with his daddy but I suppose sleep deprivation will erase a few crazy nights from one's memory.

Sleep charmer Nate: keep up the good work with our impressionable daughter, my dear.



  1. First things first, is Nate for hire?

    13 months and not sleeping through the night still. My daughter is also a VERY stubborn little girl and I really fear letting her crying it out because I know she can go way longer then I can. Totally unfair. We had a sleep consultant that told me that there is a really strong shift in sleep between 4-4:30 which is probably why CC wakes up at that time. I'm totally on board for a slower yet more gentle approach, maybe I need to recruit my husband to see if her has the magic touch also!

  2. I am dying over this. Hilarious!! First, that it even works. And second, that Nate did it in the first place. I mean, only a man attempts reason with a 16 month old.

    Perhaps Nate has a future in child-charming? You can start a business. :)

  3. Kind of nutty what works, huh? Not getting that solid sleep is lame for everybody involved. Hope the snake charming keeps working!

  4. Oooh, sleep drama. May my third baby (and yours, should you choose that route!) be dream sleepers so we can see what that is like :)

    My kids also respond quite differently to daddy than myself, or at least it was a marked difference while I was nursing.

    Glad something worked and you got a few extra zzzzzzs.

  5. Oh my gosh this is exactly like our house - my husband has always been awesome at getting the kids back to sleep, I really think it has to do with nursing because even now when I don't nurse jake in the middle of the night, if I go in there it's all over. So on the nights when jake does wake up, we always send my husband in and he falls right back to sleep for him! Way to go Nate!!!

  6. 13 month here too and not sleeping through the night :( She wakes up between the hours of 3-5 and is very stubborn!

  7. A sleep charmer - I need one of those in my house.

  8. As long as one of you can charm you're set! I think I saw the soothing seahorse on your blog. I got it for our little one after seeing it and its helped immensely. He's 3 days younger than Cecilia. He turns it on when he wakes up at odd times.


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