My thoughts go out to all those parents of newborns having to resort to driving their babies around in the car to lull them to sleep while gas is fast approaching $5 a gallon in the region.
Mikey was possibly the worst sleeper on the planet. He didn’t sleep through the night until he was close to 18 months old, and prior to that, he wasn’t just waking up once a night — he was up multiple times.
I’m sure my husband and I did everything wrong when it came to giving him the tools needed to self-soothe. We let him fall asleep on the bottle. We rocked him endlessly, or rubbed his back. We sang… poorly.
We tried “sleep training” but, simply put, we weren’t strong enough. We would let him cry for a couple of hours before one of us would break. We were living in a condo at that time and my husband was afraid the neighbors on the other side of the wall would complain.
I just couldn’t take the incessant crying.
We were told the worst thing we could do was go in and soothe him after letting him cry, but we did.
We tried sleep training a few nights until we finally threw on the towel and resigned ourselves to a few years of sleepless nights. I mean, teenagers are notorious for wanting to stay in bed all day, right? So all we had to do was make it 14 more years and then we could catch up on some much-needed shut-eye.
The only thing we didn’t do was co-sleep, but it’s not because we didn’t try. When Mikey was still a baby we were afraid of smushing him, but as he got closer to toddlerhood I told my husband one night, “To hell with it — bring him in here so we can all sleep!”
Turns out, toddlers sleep like WWE wrestlers and after about an hour my husband said, “Nope! Hulk Hogan is going back to his toddler bed!”
But what was almost worse than the interrupted nighttime sleep was the 30-minute naps. The pediatrician said Mikey couldn’t connect his sleep cycles, so he would nap for 30 minutes — to the minute.
If he fell asleep at 9:28 a.m. for his morning nap, he would be crying at 9:58 a.m.
I timed it many times… Thirty minutes. No more. No less.
However, a car nap somehow defied all odds and could go on endlessly — as long as we stayed in motion.
As such, I became very familiar with the back roads — as well as the main roads — of Putnam County and the Hudson Valley.
Locally, Route 301 is a great road to take when you have nowhere to go and no reason to go there. I also took a few trips around the local waterbodies — Putnam Lake, Lake Mahopac, Lake Gleneida — just circling…
I took I-84 to the Newburgh-Beacon bridge only to turn around and head back.
I drove the Taconic to the beautiful northern Dutchess towns, then returned.
To be completely transparent with all you readers — since that’s the whole point of this column — I have to say, at 4 years old, there is still a 50/50 chance Mikey will wake up at night. Either he needs his blankets fixed, he needs to go to the bathroom, he needs a drink of water, or — my favorite — “I have to tell you something.”
To those of you with newborns and babies suffering through sleepless nights and limited naptimes, and walking around the planet a mere shell of the human you once were, let me share with you the message Mikey’s pediatrician told me: “You will sleep again. It might be 3 months, it might be 3 years, but you will sleep again.”
And when that doesn’t hold true, somehow, you adjust.
And look forward to the day your little angel turns 15 and you can stand outside their bedroom door with a blowhorn and megaphone and wake their sleeping butt up at the crack of dawn every weekend… You know, as payback.
In the meantime, naps are about to get really expensive.
Holly Crocco is editor of the Putnam County Times/Press and mother of a 4-year-old. She can be reached email@example.com.