Cry to Me

As most children of the 80s, I’ve seen the original Dirty Dancing about seventy times seven times. In college I owned it on VHS. (You know, as a curiosity because the rest of my Class of ‘16 have never even seen a VHS…oh wait, I already admitted I was a child of the 80s.) One of my favorite songs from that movie—which I downloaded ILLEGALLY FREE FROM NAPSTER (how old am I now?!)—is “Cry to Me.” It’s so much better as a song than it is in parenthood.

Bitsy cried it out last night. And right now in fact, right through the wall, she is certainly crying to me. A dirty martini would go a long way right now to make one of us feel a whole lot better.

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Not Real Food, just Real Life. Guilty Mommy buys Baby “ice cream.”

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Siblings finish first, then steal her food. The vultures.

I was never really into the sleep-training thing. I tried a few times with my oldest daughter, but she wasn’t so much a cryer as she was a serious, no-holds-barred SCREAMER. Trying to get her to sleep via “extinction” made me want to vomit, and I had the luxury of being home with her, so I could pick my battles. She loved to fall asleep at the breast, but she never transferred to her crib. So I dealt with it. Eventually I read The No-Cry Sleep Solution, and that helped solve many of our problems. But of course her night waking wasn’t much of a problem for me anyway, so I didn’t need it all solved. I honestly don’t remember the rest.

Boo came along when Sally was 23 months old. I like to tell people that she started sleeping through the night the week her brother came home from the hospital. This is actually true. Boo was such an amazingly better sleeper than his sister. Once, around 14 months, he fell asleep in the car on the way to brunch. Dr. Awesome took him out of the car seat and carried him in, and we braced ourselves for grumpy, groggy screaming with our pancakes…but the kid literally slept the entire brunch sprawled out on the diner’s leather booth seat. Oh the good old days!

With Baby Number 3, of course, things are always different. Bitsy came into our bed pretty much right way and she stayed there until recently. Sure, she would go down at bedtime in her crib next to my side of the bed (after insisting on a gentle rocking and a softly uttered Rosary to lull her to sleep) and sleep soundly for a number of hours. But as soon as I entered the room for the night—“Smells like Mom Spirit!” the sleeping Bits would say to herself, and drag her mind from subconscious to full wakefulness in 6 seconds with a “RRAWRRRR! MM-MM-MMM MIH!” which of course in screaming Baby babble means, “milk!”

Many nights Dr. A and I have taken to hiding in the guest room just so we can sleep for a few hours without her between us. But I wanted my room – and dare I admit it, after 15 months? MY SLEEP BACK. Three days ago I put my foot down. Dr. Awesome was heading out of town, and I said, “Oh, Darling, on your way out the door, could you be an absolute angel and move the crib?” Or maybe I said, “Listen, Buster, if you’re sticking me with these monsters for a week you better – ” … but it really doesn’t matter what I said, because he was an absolute angel, and the crib got moved.

Now all three of my darlings are in the same bedroom, just like in Peter Pan! So I know Bitsy knows that Boo and Sally are sleeping in their beds. She can see them. Tonight after I left and the screaming begin, Sally spent fifteen minutes singing lullabies. It was so sweet (even though my Sally is a little tone-deaf) and Bitsy stood still and listened…until she didn’t want to listen any more. We’re 90 minutes in and the Big Two are sleeping like rocks. Bitsy is so tired she keeps dozing off on her feet, gripping the rail of the crib. Then she’ll wake up and scream some more. I am praying for her Guardian Angel to push her over or something, so she can do what she did last night and finally fall fast asleep for six whole hours. And part of me hates to admit that I let her scream yesterday for 90 minutes, until I think her legs gave out and the tiredness overwhelmed her once she sat. But then I realize that last night was the first time in over 10 months that I got a chunk of sleep over 4 hours. It’s a miracle I haven’t jumped off a building yet!

Update: This “Night 2 of Cry it Out” or as I like to call it, “Hell Night” was two nights ago. Bitsy cried off and on for two miserable hours. She fell asleep sitting up with a leg sticking out and her tiny hand gripping the bars like a prisoner in the Bastille. I slipped in and laid her flat to nary a stir or a whimper; she slept for six and a half hours. I know, I read once that they sleep more soundly after horribly traumatic experiences. Something else to feel guilty for. But you know what else is horribly traumatic? Living with my children.

Just kidding.…

Night 3 was rockin’! I rocked her for a song and handed her off to the just-returned Awesome Daddy. She stood up and commenced screaming right away, and Boo then decided he didn’t want to stay in his bed, so Doc had to sit sentry at the foot of Sally’s twin with that silent “Dad Dares You to Move or ELSE” posture…(which he was totally faking. He’s a cupcake. But Boo fell for it.) And after ten minutes, Bitsy stopped crying. She sat down and whimpered for three minutes. Then she laid down like her siblings and sighed, and went to sleep.

Tonight I timed her. Three minutes screaming, none of it standing up. Then she stayed calm, and fell asleep. Inwardly I am cheering. I can’t believe we did it! We won one! Go Team Mom and Dad! This never happens!

I still think I need a martini.

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