In the wars

Dot writes: poor Frank. He crawled off the back step on Thursday and went smack, face-first on to the paving slabs. The result:
When Hugh was small we would probably have screeched off to hospital (then again, maybe not: it looks horrid but he only fell a few inches).

Just to make poor Frank’s life even worse, yesterday we plucked up courage and started trying to sleep-train him. We’ve been muddling along coping with the refusal to stay in his cot past 10.30pm and the continued night-feeding; it’s doable so long as Hugh doesn’t wake up too, though I’ve been finding that my back and my hip-joints start to ache from holding the same position too long. But one does hanker after uninterrupted sleep.

When we got Hugh to stay through the night in his room we did it by the ‘controlled-crying’ method, where you periodically return to comfort the baby in his own bedroom. There is no own bedroom for Frank, so the aim this time is to get him to sleep through in his cot in our room without coming in bed with me to feed; when he can do that maybe we’ll be able to move him in with Hugh, though then I would worry about Hugh disturbing Frank rather than the other way round. Still, it was inevitably going to be a noisy process, and our previous plan had been that Hugh and I would maybe go and stay in someone else’s house while Ken endured the outrage of the youngest. What we actually did was set up the tent in the garden. Ironically, on my first night of not feeding Frank I co-slept with Hugh, because he was too over-excited to settle in his compartment of the tent and I ended up taking him into mine. Meanwhile poor Frank woke up and howled from time to time, and poor Ken endured it until 4am when he brought him into bed. We’ll find out tonight whether this has yet had any effect on Frank’s expectations about sleeping with a nipple in his mouth.

I do feel terribly ambivalent about this. Frank is not being banished from our room to cry alone, but it is clearly a horrible process for him, and I very much doubt it will work as quickly as it did with Hugh. On the one hand, I have been feeling so tired; on the other hand, I don’t get much time with Frank and it is lovely to wake up next to his little smiling face. Ken was very keen to try controlled crying on Hugh but seems more neutral this time; and he is pretty sleep-deprived today. Well, it would seem especially mean to let last night have been for nothing. Hugh and I will have another go at camping and see what happens.


4 thoughts on “In the wars

  1. ken

    I’m sure it will all work out fine. Franc’s too small to remember any of this in years to come. It will be good to have some independence back.

    P.S. That’s quite an interesting photo of Franc’ because he looks quite different, to me, from how he usually does.

  2. Lily Roth

    My dear Dot,

    I feel a bit ambivalent also. So far, I’m fine with having Owen in our bed, partly because it’s only been 6 months so far and partly because he has no room of his own yet anyway. It’s easier for me and I get a fair amount of sleep.

    However, I do wonder if I’m causing problems down the line…especially since nearly everyone likes to give me dire warnings and to shake their heads knowingly when I tell them that we have a family bed.

    I really sympathise with your dilemma and hope that little Frank/Franc’ settles into a mutually happy sleep arrangement.


  3. H Conrad O'Briain

    OK, I belong to (and always have belonged to) the cot down the corridor brigade. I have a heart of – well, if not stone, certainly gravel. Alice was out of our bedroom at two weeks. It was safer that way: we kept stumbling into her bassinet in the dark. The only time Alice slept in our bed was when the central heating went out in early December of ’79, and when she was really, really sick, and we were afraid she would strangle on her vomit.
    Babies cry not only because they miss something, but because they want something, and they want it now. We ought to give them credit for just how fully human they are, i.e. conniving. We all know the best method of getting our own way is simply to wear out the opposition. Every good insurgency understands the power of attrition. At the moment, you are the second and fourteenth legions and Frank is a little Pict.
    I suggest the Antonine wall. There is nothing wrong with a cot in the bathroom. You need sleep.

  4. kenanddot

    I’m afraid I think there’s rather a lot wrong with a cot in the bathroom, and so would you if you had seen the size of both the bathroom and the cot. Nor are the benefits of our current sleeping-arrangement wholly one-sided: it does help to make up for spending so little time with Frank during the week, it is keeping my milk supplies up, and Ken and I enjoy the cuddles and closeness. (It’ll also be convenient not to have to try to find space for a travel-cot when we go camping in July.)

    We’ll probably try again before the end of the summer, but not until we’re fully motivated to overcome the sheer horror of the process.

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