Remember this post about how much Owen loves his lovey? It’s funny, for so long I was putting lovey in his crib every night without really knowing if Owen cared about it at all, or if it was really offering any sort of comfort or soothing. Last weekend confirmed it: Owen totally loves his lovey.
When I was working long days and late nights last week, I missed putting Owen to bed for a few days in a row. Prior to this, I have “done bedtime” almost every night for his entire existence, save for the few random nights that I had a commitment (so Benjamin did it) or we got a babysitter (which I can STILL count on one hand — I know, I know, we need to get out more!). While I know it’s dangerous to set up a precendent that only one person does bedtime, I am the one who is home 99% of the time, and to be honest, I adore it. I snuggle my nose into his soft, clean hair, still damp from the bath. I rock gently and sing lullabies and murmur how much I love him into his ear. I massage his little feet and gaze at his tiny toes while he sleepily drinks his bottle. When he finishes his bottle I stand and rock him some more and sing while he pats my face and twirls my hair. Then I lay him down, hand him his lovey, give the sign language for “sleep”, and say goodnight.
9 times out of 10, I don’t hear a peep when I shut his door. Sometimes he babbles a bit as he puts himself to sleep (we always joke that he’s telling lovey all about his day), but I haven’t heard crying for ages. But last week, after I missed a few bedtimes, something new happened.
The Lovey Wars began.
It all started during a nap time on the first full day I was home after my long work week was over. We did our nap routine and I turned to walk out of the room. As I glanced back at him before shutting the door, I saw him standing in his crib, dangling lovey precariously over the top rail. Looking at me intently, as if to say, “Oh I’ll do it. Don’t leave, or I’ll do it. I’ll drop him.” With a mischievous little grin on his face. I shut the door as normal, to see what would happen. SECONDS later, I hear a loud, and I mean LOUD, wail. Huge crocodile tears too. I went back in immediately because my hand was still on the doorknob and I knew exactly what had happened. But instead of reaching for lovey as I expected, he was crying and reaching his little arms up for ME.
He tricked me.
Lovey was on the floor, but it seemed so intentional that I didn’t know how to react. I handed him his lovey, which seemed to satisfy him for a moment, and then I laid him back down in his crib and left the room again. Crying ensued.
A minute later, the same loud “lovey is on the floor” wail.
I went back in again, thinking maybe he was trying to tell me something that I wasn’t getting. Maybe he was uncomfortable or teething again or had a fever. Maybe he was too hot or too cold or his clothing was too tight. I picked him up and held his head against mine to see what I could deduce. And then I realized it. He had tricked me again. And it worked.
I decided that I needed to have a consistent response to the lovey throwing in order to get through this stage (because everything is a stage, right? RIGHT?!) without regressing into bad sleep habits. So I left the room one more time and tried really hard not to listen to the crying that ensued. Finally Benjamin went up there, handed lovey back to him, and left the room. Silence. I think he wore himself out.
We made a plan: no more retrieving lovey. It’s not that I thought he was manipulating us… I think he was doing exactly what a baby his age should be doing. Testing a theory. If I throw lovey, and then cry, mom will come in and bring it back. Score! And it worked, the first few times. But I was hellbent on this NOT becoming a new fun game. So our lovely and relaxing weekend was peppered by total lovey extinction. Also known as “learn to live with the consequences of your actions”, the toddler version. If he threw lovey (and throw lovey he did), we were not going to come in and give him back. He’d have to fall asleep without lovey.
Sniff, sniff. It just about killed me thinking of him alone in his crib without lovey!
But you know what? It took him 10 minutes to cry himself to sleep for the first nap. Then 7 minutes. Then less and less. And the lovey throwing stopped after less than 2 days. And now we’re back to happy (and long!) sleeping. Hallelujah.
Thank goodness that was a short phase.
What phases have you gone through around this age? What did you do to fight against them, or embrace them?