Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Men and women are different

So if yesterday I was willing to give myself the "young mother of the year" award, today I am not winning wife of the year! No matter how often I read or hear about how different men and women are fundamentally, I always seem to forget. Maybe it's a woman thing.

I have reached the point where I need to actively do something about Benjamin's sleeping habits (er, lack thereof). I am going more nights not sleeping than sleeping, and even the nights when I "sleep" I only get two hours, maybe three, and not all in a row. And while I seem to have been granted an unnatural ability to remain not just functional, but also pleasant, while surviving on little to no sleep, I know it's not good for me.

Benjamin's biggest problem is that with his temper/strong-will/spirited nature, he gets worked up really easily and find it really difficult to calm down. The only way he has learned to calm down and stop screaming is to nurse. Not really drink much milk, but he uses the closeness to me as a security measure. It's a combination of me as his mother, the sucking motion, the nearness and warmth. A soother doesn't do it, and even me simply holding him doesn't do it. So now that he is waking so often at night, I have been dragging myself in hour after hour to calm him down.

Last night James and I decided we had to make a concerted effort to put an end to it. I read a little on our specific issue, and the unanimous (and only) answer seemed to be to have someone other than me go in when he cries, so that he learns to calm down with someone other than me. James very heroically (considering he has to work during the day) offered to sleep on the floor of his nursery during the next five nights or so, which is what we hoped it would take to break the habit.

(Here's where the "men and women are different" part comes in)

Just before bed, I asked James if he wanted to go over anything, in terms of preparing himself and having ideas on what to do when Benjamin gets hysterical during the night. Nah, I got it, he said. So off I went to bed.

Benjamin woke at 12:30am, screaming and crying. Finally, at 3:30am, I went in to see what on earth was going on. James was sound asleep on the floor, Benjamin was screaming (and nowhere near calming down) in his crib. I picked him up, soothed him, nursed him, and put him back down.

Come morning, with both James and I bleary-eyed, stumbled downstairs.

"Well, that didn't work last night." I concluded.

James looked at me oddly.

"It worked exactly as I planned," he countered.

We then proceeded to have a disagreement on what should be considered a success for sleep training. We were not only on opposite sides of the fence, we were so far on opposite sides of the field we couldn't even see the other person.

To be fair, we were both right, in our own capacity. But what I realized more than anything is that while we both "had a plan," the plans were vastly different, and neither of us had communicated that to the other. The previous night, I had simply asked if he had it covered, and he said yes. Which, in essence, was true.

Personally, for a whole host of reasons, I cannot abide by Benjamin screaming in his crib for that many hours, trying to make him quit "cold turkey." The plan I had in mind was a little more gradual, and I believe will have a greater chance of success. Now, I am at the advantage here, because a) of motherhood instincts and b) because I am with Benjamin nearly 20 hours a day, so I know him better than anyone.

I calmly apologized for my tone in arguing this morning, then I went to work in fixing the problem. I pulled out my computer, and, in a very logical, "male" way of thinking, I wrote out exactly what stage one of our sleep training will entail. I wrote down the objective, I listed various types of tools and techniques that could be used, I noted the order in which they should prove to be most successful, and I included the appropriate duration before calling me to nurse. I emailed the file to James, then let him know I had done so. I left it at that.

You see, I had simply being talking,talking,talking,talking,talking at James, trying to fill his head in 5 or 10 minutes with all the pages of information I had read and the years of experience I have. Nothing about that method is going to be successful. Instead, I tried to think about how James would think, made the list, sent it off, and left it in his hands.

I hope the experience stays with me a little longer. Life is so much easier when we remember just how different men and women can be, and that it takes a little extra understanding to keep things smooth sailing!


S.C.M. said...


I am sorry that that first night didn't go so well and you two were on different pages. I hope that with the plans you wrote up it will work out better and that you can finally get a good nights sleep.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...


Grandma, Dad and I were talking about how difficult it is for you to hear Benjamin cry. Have you thought about sleeping over at Jennifer's for a week (just staying there at night) so that you can't hear Benjamin scream. :-)

Love, Mom