Saturday, September 20, 2008

4 AM Automatic!

The first cries came at about 3:50 actually. I'm not sure exactly what precipitated them. Perhaps a bad dream, or a stomach ache. It might have even been triggered by my 3:20 trip to the bathroom, but whatever it was Lukas was upset and letting us know it.

After a few minutes of semi-upset crying where we were in a half awake state hoping he would go back to sleep (we usually give him 10 minutes to put himself back to sleep if he wakes in the night) Luke began to call out "da"...."da-da"...."DA-DA". So I went into his room, finding him sitting up in his crib clutching his blanket and sobbing. I hugged him, told him it was 'night-night time', spread out his fleece blanket, laid him back down, and covered him up. I then sat there rubbing his back for a couple more minutes before finally heading back to bed.

He was quiet for a few minutes, but we ended up repeating this cycle another time before Lukas finally put himself to sleep a while later. It took me longer to get back to sleep, however. I just lay there, thinking about everything under the sun, waiting to make sure he was really out for good. I was thinking about how far we have come from only a few months earlier when anything could (and would) happen during those 4 AM wake ups. As it turned out, I eventually slept soundly last night, but only after drifting in and out of sleep several times. During that sporatic sleep, I had a couple of short dreams which I remember only bits and pieces of. One where I woke to a group of people releasing a flock of bird from a non-existant balcony off my bedroom and another where I tried to turn off my alarm and dropped it on the floor with a loud thud, breaking it into several pieces.

Lukas didn't stir.

As time has passed it has become much easier to understand what our son needs during those late night bumps. Although we can usually figure it out, I look forward to the day when he can talk to us and tell us what sorts of things are bothering him, especially in the middle of the night.

I don't know why he woke last night but what he needed was reassurance, a hug, and to know we were still close by when he needed us. Mrs. LIAYF and I are always happy to oblige.

Don't get me wrong. I am glad nights like these are getting fewer and further between, but knowing that I have a child in the next room who needs me and is comforted by my presence when something is not right in the middle of the night...well that is golden. I know that I won't always be needed like I am now.

How about you? How do you comfort your young children when they wake in the middle of the night? Does it become more likely that they will want to come to bed with you after they are out of a crib, even if you never brought them to bed with you before that? I'd like to hear your thoughts.


SciFi Dad said...

Believe it or not, ignorance is sort of bliss in those situations. Once they can articulate what they want/need, they can also negotiate or ask for something else, thereby a) increasing your time together and b) increasing the probability of them being up for the day at an ungodly hour.

When my daughter wakes in the middle of the night, she always wants to be with us. We've got strict rules about what times we allow this, but sometimes she's just UP and CAN'T SLEEP, and well, we're screwed.

James (SeattleDad) said...

@Scifi - Wow, I hadn't thought of it in that way. Makes sense though. I'm sure that it would be more difficult to leave a child who is telling you "Don't go, dada, I'm scared" rather than just whimpering.

Ed (zoesdad) said...

I remember longing for the days when my kids could talk to me, tell me what they were thinking. Now I long for those days when they couldn't. Careful what you wish...

Sometimes the midnight bandits just sneak into our bed--I find out when I wake in the morning, or when it's too late and they've stolen my pillow. Other times I'm able to head them off at the door and send them back to bed. We have a rule of kids sleep in their own beds but it's loosely enforced.

Fortunately for us--only one or two ever gets up in the night. Five would be too many!

Anonymous said...

The MiniKamp has decided that sleeping through the night is overrated and would much rather party between 2 and 4.

We are navigating the should we let her cry it out decision. That is just tough. I just want to be in there get her and get her down.

At the same time, it would be great to know if she is hungry, bored, scared, lonely or all of the above.

I can already tell she is going to be a negotiator.

Anonymous said...

Tread lightly, brother. It's cool to be needed. Then they grow. Need turns to manipulation. Both our children are terrific about this now, but there was a learning curve.

James (SeattleDad) said...

@Ed - I'm still at that longing to have them tell me what they want stage. I'm sure you rememeber that, at least vaugely. LOL! Thanks for the comment.

@DC - Ahhh, you are still a late night party animal. I'm getting to old for that, so I'm glad Luke is cooperating more these days. Good luck getting there too.

@Writer - Hard to think of the little one manipulating us, but i'm sure it will happen soon enough. You seem to echo the other perspectives, so now I am wondering what I have in store.

korin said...

Well since ruby's bed is next to ours... she just crawls into my bed when she needs me, and we go back to sleep. so I'm not much help, am I ;)

James (SeattleDad) said...

@Korin - Great to hear from you!! Yeah, we tried that, but my snoring always woke Lukas up. So, having his own room works pretty well for him . . . most of the time!

korin said...

Well if YOU are waking up lucas... that's another story! ;)
Honestly, the night time waking is a short time in their lives, even if it happens till they are 5 years old... it is really short in the grand scheme of things. best to just suck it up, snuggle the tot till they fall back to sleep and pray that it passes soon. Before you know it he'll be pushing you away when you try to kiss him good bye at the bus stop! ;)
tell mrs LIAYF i said hi! :D