Oh, son. What fresh hell is this? Just when I thought we were over the weaning hump, and had gotten into a really good bedtime routine (who knew a child under four could just lie down and settle into sleep without a complex series of interventions and negotiations? Clearly not your sister.), you have begun this horrible new habit of waking up three hours after going to bed. And then screaming. Inconsolably. For 20 to 30 minutes. In. My. Ear. But then suddenly stopping, for no perceptible reason, and sleeping soundly for another three hours. And then starting all over.
I thought maybe you were hungry, so I tried cramming you full of food before bed, but to no avail. I wondered if it might be molars coming in, but the rest of your day is happy and seemingly pain-free. I thought there might be some other physical problem - an upset stomach, an uncomfortable diaper, maybe even an ear infection - but there are really no symptoms of these issues or any indication that you're actually in pain. The one night I took you to the kitchen in a desperate search for a miracle cure, you grabbed a cup from the fridge and instantly stopped trying to wiggle out of my arms. You took a drink, curled up against me, and were half-asleep by the time we got back to the bedroom. It seemed as if you had nursed back to sleep, but with a Playtex substitute.
Which brings me to our other issue: your breastfeeding regression. We were doing great for a few weeks, and now you're suddenly asking to nurse again. And that's your least aggressive form of request - sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the night to your arm trying to wedge through the neck hole of my t-shirt. My weekly Babycenter e-mails say you're right on target for regression, so congrats on being punctual. But that's about enough now, okay? It breaks my heart to have to tell you no, it's all gone, and I thought we were past that part and could just enjoy the exciting new world of constantly searching for sippy cup valves.
So here we are, with you up and crying several times a night and your waking hours spent obsessing over the boob. It's like having a newborn again. It would seem that the two might at least go together, and that keeping a milk cup near the bed would solve both problems at once, but the next time I tried to settle you with a midnight beverage, you threw the cup at my head.
Based on the fact that your wake-ups come at regular intervals, seem to have no connection to external forces, and are so violently irrational, I'm starting to suspect you might be having night terrors. Which is a very troubling diagnosis, because there's really nothing that can be done about it. Other than Dr. Sears' recommended treatment, which involves waking you up before the expected freak-out and keeping you up for five minutes. For a week straight. Because what I really want to be doing at midnight is going through the bedtime routine again, but this time with a freshly-napped baby. I guess if things keep going like this, I'll give it a shot, but right now, I go to bed every night with the naïve hope that, somehow, this time, everything will be okay and we'll both get a good night's sleep.
Yeah, I know, you're not the only one acting like they're new at this.