11:43 p.m.: Wake up next to Clara, who's sleeping peacefully in my bed with me. David is out at a fundraiser for his non-profit Spacetaker.org at Dean's Credit Clothing. Dean's is a bar, and the fundraiser features a fashion show where models strut down a makeshift runway, wearing stylish and skimpy fashions from Erotic Cabaret Boutique. The suggested donation for the evening is $10.00 at the door, meaning it's not exactly a fundraiser. It's a party where some funds might be raised.
11:45 p.m.: Get up and go to kitchen for a drink of water. Spy plastic baggie containing chocolate brownie cookies purchased last Saturday at the Farmer's Market. Decide I HAVE to get rid of these cookies so that I stop consuming them. Solve problem by eating what remains of them. Wash them down with two glasses of really cold Vanilla soymilk. The Dessert Lady, who homemakes these wicked-good cookies among others, sticks computer lables with the printed ingredients on her $5 baggies. The surprising ingredient in the chocolate brownie cookies is coffee. Remember this when I'm back in bed, tossing and turning and tossing and turning, trying not to roll over onto Clara.
3:23 a.m.: Curse the chocolate brownie cookies. Look at Clara, who's sleeping but waving her arms up and down in a "Danger, danger Will Robinson" way. Wonder what she's dreaming about. Consider the I Ching and praise Confucious for leaving the human race with such a wise, useful book.
* * *
The other night, I decided that it was time for Clara to "learn how to fall asleep on her own," which is what the blasted "Sleep Sense Program" promised would happen, or else I'd get my money back. David agreed to go ahead with the plan: we would put her in her crib -- awake! this is important (?) -- and wait a predetermined amount of time before entering her room to help her 1) stop crying and 2) get back to work on putting herself to sleep. And cry she would, no doubt about it. We were just gonna have to deal with that.
David and I determined that we'd leave her alone for no more than three minutes at a time before returning to try and calm Clara. Clara cried for 2 hours: inconsolable, hyperventilating, and choking on her own saliva. Finally, I stopped leaving the room and just lay down on the floor next to her crib, praying to the BVM to help me stay strong.
The next night when I went to put Clara in her bed after her "bedtime routine," where I repeated the "key phrase" night-night time often while bathing, massaging, dressing, singing to and nursing her, she started wailing immediately, freaking out about being anywhere near her crib.
That was the end of that. "The Sleep [Non]Sense Program" was damaging my baby. I picked Clara up (a big NO NO in the "Sleep [Non]Sense Program") and held her and danced with her, nursed her, played her some Bob Dylan -- "To Make You Feel My Love" -- and then put her in the swing, where she slept soundly from 7:45 until 12:30 a.m.
The next day, I felt as if I were the worst mother in the world: not only had I failed to teach my four month old to soothe herself and fall asleep on her own, but also I had traumatized her and made her afraid of her crib and the world in general.
My own mother tried to console me by telling me that, yes, it was hard, but that once Clara learned to fall asleep on her own, it would be better for both of us. Then she told me that the child she let cry the longest in the crib was Marco, my brother who seven years ago nearly died at dawn on a lawn in Oxnard, CA from a speedball injection.
Her consolation was no prize, let's just say.
I know Rome wasn't built in a day and all that. I know that if I want Clara to learn to sleep on her own, I have to be CONSISTENT. Consistency is the mother of all intervention. I have to put her down the next night in her crib and let her cry and cry until she realizes that going to bed without Mommy is not so bad and she starts cooing to her stuffed animal and giggling herself to sleep.
But, we don't live in Rome; we live in Houston, TX, which requires an enormous amount of effort to weather, and therefore an enormous amount of comfort to compensate for the horribleness that is a Houston Summer. Clara is a baby, and I'm going to baby my baby. She can learn to fall asleep on her own later.
Which brings me to the I Ching. The I Ching, otherwise known as the Book of Changes, has saved my ass in the past 15 years. This book has the ability to connect me with that subconsicous part of myself that refuses to come out of hiding unless I'm asleep or drunk.
The way the I Ching works: Ask a question -- an open ended question -- while tossing three pennies six times. Each toss results in a static or changing line in the hexagram you're building. Keep your question in mind the whole time you're tossing the coins and building the hexagram. After you have your hexagram (mine for this question was #52 -- Keeping Still), consult the oracle inside the book for the answer to your question.
So I did. I asked the question: "How can I be the best mother to Clara in the wake of the trauma I may have caused her with the Sleep [Non]Sense Program?" The answer, as you will see, could not have been more specific:
"If you feel any hesitation as you are just beginning something [the sleep [non]sense program], trust in your doubts and change your direction. Trust any feelings of your first judgements as a kind of reverse beginner's luck. Careful: your reaction to second thoughts should be a shift in direction, not a reversal, not a pulling back. The impetus for your direction remains valid and you do not fulfill an impetus by quelling it" (The I Ching: A New Interpretation for Modern Times, by Sam Reifler).
I DO understand that learning how to fall asleep on one's own is important. My impetus to help Clara do that is valiant (says the sleep-deprived-insomniac mother). However, the Sleep [Non]Sense Program is not the way. I want my money back.
For now, the "shift in direction" is to let Clara have more room in the king-size bed I share with David and her. That way, her flailing arms won't wake me as often. I hope that this will work while I figure out how to get her to love her crib and giggle herself to sleep.