In the two weeks since I posted this post, things have gone from bad to worse. Julia continued to climb out of her crib, often multiple times a night. One night we went to check on her and found her sound asleep on the floor...bare butt up in the air and pee all over the floor. She had taken off her pajama pants and her diaper, but the kicker is that she put the diaper in the diaper pail and her pants back in her drawer. Very deliberate! Another night she was in her bathroom screaming at the top of her lungs (at 2 A.M.) that she wanted to brush her teeth. One morning when I heard her screaming for us, I went in and found her sitting by her nightlight, surrounded by books and all of the wipes from her container, some of which she had shredded. When I came in, she simply handed them to me and said, "Deese all gone." She learned how to push her stool over to the light switch to turn on the lights. She figured out not only how to climb out of the crib, but also how to climb back in...a process that frightened me when I saw how she did it. She determined that her changing pad would be a nice place to sleep, so she pulled it off of the dresser and set up camp--dragging her blanket and baby along with her. She's destroyed multiple books by ripping all of the "lift the flaps" out of them. And of course, she figured out how to get out of her room.
All of this meant that Mama and Daddy had to figure out how to fight back. So, we decided to remove her crib. I was worried about her climbing back in, and also felt that having the crib and "grown-up bed" (as she calls it) might be confusing for her. Well, she was (and probably still is) pissed about that decision. So, I read anything I could about getting a child to sleep in a big bed, and the only method I found that was noted as reliable was to spend several nights in "boot camp"--anytime they get out of bed, you silently and with no fanfare put them back in bed. We gave it a shot one night, but cried uncle after 65 times of putting her back in bed. She was very upset about the whole process, but never once laid down in the bed. As soon as we put her there, she got right back up. Clearly we had to come up with a different plan. (Though a couple Zach met at the park said they put their two-year-old back in bed 164 times the first night when they did the process, so maybe we need to try harder.)
I hated the idea of locking her in her room, but that's basically what we resorted to. We got the doorknob covers that make it so little ones can't turn the doorknob, and put them on her bathroom door and her room door. We switched the light switch so that it won't turn on from the switch; it's now just controlled by pull cords on the fan. We moved all of her toys out of her room and put the basket from her changing table in the bathroom each night. Now she points at the doorknob covers and says "Those keep me safe," which is what I've told her, with only small pangs of guilt. And, she tells me, "Light no work anymore."
So now she's "locked" in her room, but refuses to sleep in a bed. She has slept on the floor every night, but of course does not sleep through the night, instead waking up and screaming for hours at a time. Her newest trick is to sleep with her face pressed up against the door, her mouth right up to the crack between the bottom of the door and the floor. This affords her two advantages: first, it makes her screams and cries louder and harder to ignore, and second, once she falls asleep in this position, it makes it so we can't come in and check on her and move her to her bed. This weekend, I put her crib mattress back in the room in the hopes that she would at least sleep there if she wouldn't sleep in the bed, but so far no luck with that. She'll often get in one of the beds, hunker down, appear to be nice and cozy...only to jump right up and scream as soon as you leave the room.
While this makes great blog fodder and my friends find the stories quite amusing, it's actually supremely frustrating. She's overtired, as are we. We're all getting less sleep than we did when she was a newborn. And worse, nothing we're doing seems to make a difference. I'm second-guessing every move I make: "Should I do some attachment parenting and just go in and comfort her until she falls asleep? Should I sleep with her? Let her sleep with us? Or will that make it worse? Do we need to take a harder line and help her learn to comfort herself? Why does she not know how to comfort herself? Should we cut out any sugar or treats after supper? Should we put the crib back in? Will she be scarred by being unable to get out of her room? WHAT ARE WE DOING WRONG?"
And, I guess that's the worst part about it: I know we've done nothing wrong. From a textbook standpoint, we've done everything "right" all her life--she's had a consistent bedtime and nap time and a consistent, wind-down bedtime routine. She's always slept in her crib. She has "lovies" that she's attached to. And yet, we're still dealing with this nonsense. I do remember that Will went through a phase of wakefulness around this age; at the time, we attributed it to the stress of a new baby in the house. And of course, his wasn't nearly as bad because he never climbed out of the crib. Like all phases, that one eventually passed, but probably not quick enough for our liking. So, for now, I guess we'll just keep on keepin' on. That seems to be about all we can do.