Frances Paulina, three years and three weeks old, slept THROUGH THE NIGHT. This is a monumental day, a day for the record books, a day we hope is not just some sort of sick cosmic coincidence. From the time of her tiny infancy, Frankie has had a troubled relationship with sleep. In that she does not like to partake of it. I recently came across a notebook in which I had meticulously recorded her sleeping habits from the time she was three months old until she was over six months old. It was peppered with entries like "To bed at 8 pm, up to nurse 8:30, 9, 11:30, 1, up until 5 am, etc. etc." One of our first date nights after Frankie was born was to Barnes & Noble where we pored over every baby sleep book known to man. We have a shelf full of them. We tried every one of them. None of them worked. We instituted regimented bedtime routines, ironclad nap schedules. We shushed her while lying beneath her crib and bought her a $250 baby hammock. We swaddled, we used white noise. We let her cry it out. She cried for two and a half hours for every single nap and bedtime for a week and a half. I cried, she cried. The books said she'd learn and give up. She didn't.
Eventually she gave up nursing so she didn't cry for me anymore, instead she cried for her dad. Recently she has been calling for him at least three times a night. Since he already has to be interrupted when I have to nurse Molly in the middle of the night, and since he gets up at 5 a.m., and since if I can't sleep I regularly kick him out in the wee hours to the guest bed, the poor guy was totally sleep deprived. To try to convince Frankie to go back to sleep without calling for Dean, we gave her a framed picture of him to look at and told her to picture him whispering sweet words of comfort. She started calling for him every time it fell on the floor. Next we tried a sticker chart. It was a sad checkerboard of big black X's in every box. Then we tried promises of trips to get ice cream. She kept calling and said she'd have gum instead. So last night we laid out a motley assortment of things made entirely of high fructose corn syrup and said "These are all yours. Look upon them. Feast your eyes upon their deliciousness. You can eat every single one in the morning. But if you call Dad, we put them in the garbage can." The second she got up, she was stuffing herself with a mini Snickers, a caramel apple, and two gummi bears. Bad parenting? Some would say so. But those some may also have gotten eight hours of sleep recently. So to them we say, come walk a mile in our shoes, see if you don't offer your child candy, ice cream, baby rabbits, the golden fleece, anything for a little more sleep.