I've been battling with Ashton's fears for a couple months now. And like any mother, I've been weighing what to do from both extremes of let her cry it out - it's a stalling tactic to let her co-sleep with you it stems from her time at the SWI in China, and she needs to feel safe and loved at all costs.
I've had others weigh in, but no one knows my daughter and our lifestyle as we do. And I've tried a few things from both sides of the scale feeling it out and seeing what result works best for my daughter and the ramifications.
Typically, if we leave the light on and the door open and take anything scary away or hide it with a blanket (like pieces of her furniture), she's does fine. Now an then she's pensive about me leaving, but I feel that she is genuinely scared, but she also does want to stall and just stay up as well.
It's hard to navigate the waters when both are in play.
Well, yesterday I had a friend that wanted to meet with me. We try and do lunch together, but as my lunches lately consist of taking Khaleesi on potty breaks, we decided to meet for dinner. With my husband off to play practices every night, having some adult conversation that doesn't involve work sounded great.
So, for Ashton's benefit we decided to meet at a restaurant that had an indoor playground, so Ashton wouldn't be bored. Ashton was pretty good. She had minimal interruptions while we ate. So when we were done with our meals and she wanted to play, we decided we could have her play and us have more in-depth talks sitting in the parents area of the playground.
Well, Ashton was excited. She took off her shoes and then stopped freaking out. She pointed up and said, "Plane, plane". I nodded in agreement, and gave her verbal confirmation. She then clung to me and climbed into my lap saying, "I scared."
Scared? Of the plastic, yellow plane that has ALWAYS been up there? Why?
Of course she couldn't verbalize any of that. Both my friend and I tried various ways of encouragement. We even got her to get on the slide for a moment, but then she started crying and I was afraid I'd have to climb up and get her.
Ashton never played on the indoor playground. And that is SO NOT LIKE HER!! She loves ANY playground and it's a battle of me wrenching her from it, when her time is up. I've NEVER seen her too scared to play. Where did this come from.
So my friend and I did plan B. We decided to walk. So we took Ashton's hands and walked around the apartment complexes behind the restaurant. It was a great walk. Ashton was a bit tiring wanting us to swing her all the time, but over all, it was pleasant.
Of course back in my mind was if she's scared now, in broad daylight, with me by her side... what does that mean at bed time?
During the drive home I pondered about her fears, thinking tonight I will give her extra love and caring as her fears were stemming from out of the bedroom before sleep time. Maybe I'd let her stay up a bit, though that never helps, she still is just as scared then as if I put her to bed on time... but she loves to see the moon, and it being so big and bright... that maybe that would make her happy to see it. Maybe we could cuddle and I'd sleep with her tonight. I was exhausted. I couldn't wait to have down time with my daughter. A nice quiet night. I would play the over protective mom tonight.
Little did I know that quiet would be the last thing I'd get.
So, I came home and Khaleesi, as good a dog as she is, had an accident. We were gone only 2.5 hours and the drive to the restaurant was maybe 15-20 minutes one way... I was crushed and surprised and deflated when I came home to the mess all over her and her crate. This meant I couldn't take my time with Ashton at bedtime. I had a situation that trumped this, as the house needed to be aired out, the dog washed, the crated scrubbed... and I just wanted to climb into bed with Ashton and sleep the night away.
So I got Ashton in her pjs and rocked her for a brief 5 minutes and told her I'd leave the light on, she could stay up in her crib, I'd give her books whatever, but I had to take care of Khaleesi. She was whining and upset in the state she was in, which also caused the other dogs to bark in protest and whine. Having 6 dogs causing a racket... how could I get Ashton to sleep ever?
Ashton said I could bathe Khaleesi but to come right back. I told her I would. I rushed downstairs and took Khaleesi out and momentarily tied her to the garden hose so she wouldn't take off sprinting away or getting anything soiled. I then grabbed the crate tray and brought it out and hosed it down. It took for ever to pressure wash it. I would have taken soap to it, but knew I was on borrowed time from Ashton.
Then I took the hose and sprayed Khaleesi down while she was tethered to the garden hose roll up gadget thing, I can't think the name of. I felt so sorry for her, but I couldn't walk her around on our carpet to the bath like that. And though she's getting to the point of carrying her is harder, I could have done that, but then soiled myself and my work clothes... which I couldn't do. So, I'd rather a wet floor than soiled floor. So I sprayed her legs and tail and any bad spots. She whined in protest to the freezing water.
I then got her up the stairs and to our master bathroom to the tub. The dogs where all upset I hadn't taken them out to go the bathroom and Ashton was already wailing for attention. She thought my time was long up.
I bathed Khaleesi as fast as I could. She was all calm about it once she had warm water on her rather than that freezing cold hose water. She was a perfect lady. I soaped her up and then rinsed her off. I quickly towel dried her best I could then let her downstairs.
I ignored my 5 other fur babies begging to be let out to go potty or to greet me. I went straight to my upset baby girl. The moment I was there she was happy. She asked to be let out and to be rocked. I gladly did so. I told her I was sorry for taking so long, but thanked her for being brave and letting me wash Khaleesi. However, I knew I still couldn't stay long because I had to take the fur babies out. They were a mess, knowing something wasn't right. That the night was off. They weren't settling down. No one was patient that night.
I rocked Ashton, trying to push out the barking from my mind. Knowing Ashton wouldn't settle down until I got them settled. I had to find a way to leave her, though I wanted to do nothing but comfort. And to leave her again stressed as I did before wasn't an option. Especially today with her prior fears.
Then for some reason I asked her if she would like to not sleep in her crib but stay in her room. I brought down her mattress off her bed and her changing pad and laid them on the floor. I brought down her blankets, pillows, a couple favorite toys. She lit up to the idea. She excitedly went to her new makeshift bed and I tucked her in. She gave me explicit instructions to come back and check on her. I told her I would.
I then took the poor babies out to their much needed potty break and welcome home pettings. Next I quickly feed them all dinner and then took the ones I knew would have to go potty again out. I then went back to check on Ashton.
She waved to me happy as a lark! I waved back and shut the door. So far so good. I went downstairs again to get the crate back together for Khaleesi. The dogs were all settled in and happy. Ashton was happy. All was right with the world. But man, was I beat!
I quickly showered to get the filth off me from bathing Khaleesi. I wish I could say it was a relaxing or invigorating shower but it was the quick in-out kind that is more of a hassle to get done, than use to reboot the senses.
I went up to check on Ashton again. Success. She was out! I quickly took a snapshot of my girl.
May be it was time to look into a toddler bed. May be the freedom to get in and out of a crib is the next step. I was always told to keep them in the crib as long as they can stand it because it's a whole new battle with a toddler bed... but may be, just may be it's the answer. May be it's time.
I decided I needed to veg. I felt terrible that I didn't have time to practice Ashton's violin with her or that I had any energy to work on the down stay commands with Khaleesi. I was done.
I needed to watch mindless TV. I found a Robin Williams memorial I had DVRed. So I watched that. Not 10 minutes into that Ashton started crying. I wanted to cry too.
Luckily, my husband came home at that moment. He went up to rock Ashton so I could just go to bed. I did. I was so grateful he got home. I went to bed knowing he'd be the thing to make her better. He rocked her and stayed with her until she was ready to sleep alone. (She never falls asleep with us with her... she stays up, we have to leave her alone to bore herself to sleep.) He then came in our room and I was already half out of it. He told me we were going to out in a tent in her room the next day to make it more fun for her. I was happy at the thought.
About 3 am I woke to her crying again. This isn't unusual, but I was more beat than usual. Khaleesi awoke and was begging to be taken out. I prayed that she'd just hold it. I walked in and held her for the longest time. I then moved and tucked her in to the changing pad with her blankets. I then tucked myself in beside her on her tiny, tiny crib pad on the floor. Man, was I uncomfortable. I told her we were having a sleepover. Luckily, I mush have dozed off and her shortly thereafter. I don't know when I woke back up, but I did from pain. It was so uncomfortable. I'm sure the short amount of time I slept I was in and out of it because of the lack of comfort level. I couldn't remain there. I wouldn't hear the alarm. I had to be by Khaleesi to take her out if she whined... so I tip toed out.
I came back to my room where Khaleesi was good and patiently waiting for me. I quickly took her out and returned to my bed which was beckoning me. I swear if felt as if I only slept 5 minutes when the alarm rang.
I did my usual routine this morning. I took Khaleesi on a wonderful walk this morning. That last 2 or 3 mornings have been terribly cold, in the 50s I think. But this morning was just right. No humidity, a light breeze, still dark and wonderfully alone. Khaleesi and I finished our morning walk and I went to do my usual routine of getting ready and eating breakfast.
When done I usually go and get Ashton. I kid you not, I had one last bite in front of me and Ashton woke up screaming!
I took the last bite and ran up. Ashton was sitting up on the floor upset. I picked her up and rocked her for a short time and started acting goofy to get her to smile and eventually laugh. If I didn't have a job and could only sleep with her on the floor all night... or younger as to not feel all achy from the poor baby mattress... or have more time to properly get to her in time... if, when, wish... it's all relative I guess... but yesterdays fears and day seemed to be trickling into today... at least the launch of the day.
We then started our daily routine. All seemed okay, nothing off beat.
It's been a tough 12 hours! I feel as if I should never leave home again. It's too much work... too much aftermath...
I wish I could say after work today I'm just going to stay home and play with my girl and fur babies and have everyone happy. But of course, tonight I have errands to run. I have to get thing to prepare for the Walk the Wall this Saturday, and just groceries in general. But hopefully, that won't take as long and hopefully Khaleesi will be good. We shall see.
Let's hope tonight we have fun in the tent.