Then Eric looked really tired yesterday around 1:45, soI tried to put him down for a nap. Same thing happened that morning and I spent nearly 2 hours (nursing/rocking) trying to get him to take a nap that lasted exactly a half hour. So, Friday afternoon I went to put him down with much rocking and nursing and he stood up in his crib as soon as I put him in there. So I just decided that he was going to get his nap, and he needs to learn that he has to at least try to go to sleep when it's time. So, an hour of heart-wrenching crying later he took an hour an a half nap.
Then today, he seems to understand that I'll stay with him and help him go to sleep as long as he's trying. But as soon as he pops up and starts messing around, I'll go stand at the door. This afternoon I stood at the door for a total of 2 minutes and he got it. He has to lie down and try to go to sleep when it's bedtime/naptime. It takes him a while to fall asleep, but at least he really gets that it's what he's supposed to be doing.
My goal is to work on falling asleep in the crib without hours of rocking or nursing first. I still rock him and nurse him first to get him in the mood. But I'm not waiting until he's just on the brink of sleep. Because if I do that, and I put him down asleep he doesn't sleep as well if he did it himself. I'm really astounded that he figured out what I was after in a day. Especially considering that I wasn't sure what the goal was initially, other than I needed him to fall asleep on his own for his naps. And I needed to be able to put him down a little more awake at night. So, as long as he's lying down I'll stroke his back and legs and that seems to make him very happy. And it helps him fall asleep. We'll work on less night waking next. I'd be totally happy with one night waking after he comes to bed with us. This process has been empowering and horrific.
I told my mom what was going on and she was very supportive. She said that kids don't want to be in charge. They want a vote, but they want you to run things for them. That made sense to me. I think what made me able to stomach this, was the first time I did it, he was lying in bed next to me. So apart from me not letting him nurse, he was being held by me and Rich. That first night, Rich took him and changed his diaper to make sure he'd be comfortable once he found out what I had decided to do. So, I know he didn't feel abandoned. This morning around 5(after much nursing) he wanted to nurse again and I held him and petted his legs and he whined and whimpered back to sleep, but didn't cry. Overall he was a little subdued today -- a little more clingy than usual. But he was fine. I was really careful to spend a lot of time with him and nursed him whenever he asked.
So, I feel like a changed person. I swore I'd never let him cry it out. But I needed to do something. And suddenly, I felt like we were ready to get to the next level. And I thought it was really important to do it before he started walking. I had been trying and trying to help him learn this stuff without any crying, but we had made almost no progress in MONTHS.
So on the one hand, I'm an evil villain. On the other hand, my son finally understands what he's supposed to do when I turn down the lights and lay him down in his crib.
This is tough. But I'm sure it will get much tougher. And he brings me so much joy, sometimes I feel my heart will burst.