A couple of days after I brought The Caterpillar home from the hospital, I had the stunning realization that this one is different. I knew right away that this would be my laid back child... comparatively at least.

While The Dormouse faces the world head on and molds it into the shape of her liking, The Caterpillar is more content to accept things as they are and roll with it. She's not nearly as eager to grow up as her older sister. I stupidly thought at the time that this would be a good thing. This would be my
easy child. But this fact about her personality has actually made parenting her a lot more difficult than I expected.

The Dormouse has always had this take the bull by the horns... then take those horns and tie them into a neat bow on top of the bull's head... then make that bull wear a pretty pink cape and pose for a picture... approach to the world. She was eager to do anything and everything and as a result, bulldozed through developmental milestones like a condemned block of row houses on New York Avenue.

While The Dormouse commando crawled for about a week then got up one day and started walking, The Caterpillar developed a classic baby crawl and has been content to stick with that for several months... after all, it gets her where she wants to go and she's got it down. Minimum effort, maximum result. She's only just recently tried to take a few steps. We encouraged The Dormouse to use sign language to say "more" and "finished" at mealtime, mainly because we got tired of the screaming. She caught on right away as well as picked up several more signs seemingly with no effort. The Caterpillar, despite tireless efforts on our parts, has yet to sign "more" or say anything that resembles a word to ask for more food. Instead, she shrieks -- an ear piercing shriek that hurts my left ear so badly, I have to wonder if I'm not stuck in that episode of Night Gallery where the guy puts an earwig in the other guy's ear and it makes him go crazy. She seems content to keep going this way -- after all we know what she wants, right?

But nowhere is this difference more vexing than on the issue of sleep. The Dormouse slept through the night at around four or five months. Maybe six, maybe three. I'm a little foggy on the details. At the time I didn't think it was early, but by six months she had the concept of nighttime down and knew that we sleep at night. Sure sometimes she had bad nights when she was sick or teething, but generally... she got it.

My very patient, very kind friend who had a baby boy around the same time The Dormouse was born had terrible troubles getting him to sleep. I watched him a time or two. Terrible. And in her inimitable way, whenever the subject of sleep was brought up, would just shake her head slowly and say, "Sleep is a mystery." I now know what she meant by that: she was a saint. Because I? I am not nearly so patient. Also not nearly so kind when discussing The Caterpillar's sleep habits.

Sleep is definitely a mystery for The Caterpillar. And me too, because I just don't get it.

It occurred to me the other day that The Caterpillar is ten months old... and you know what that means? It means that it's been well over a year since I've slept more than four or five hours at a time because those last four months of pregnancy were just preparing me for what it would be like to have that baby on the outside. I have a ten month old baby who very soon will not be a baby any more and she has not once slept through the night. I am finally ready to admit I don't know what I'm doing.

I've even resorted to... gulp... reading baby books by such experts as Harvey Karp, Heidi Murkoff, and Marc Weissbluth. I've tried co-sleeping, Ferber, cry it out (which, by the way, sucks, not when they cry, but when they quit crying because you have to wonder, Is she breathing? Should I check on her? If I go in to check on her and she's sleeping not dead, will I wake her up and start all this over again? Aaaaaah!), nursing down and every other jargon-y method out there. I've tried getting The KoH to get up and calm her at night, but when you have to wake up yourself and kick your husband repeatedly to get him to wake up and get out of bed, it seems rather pointless so I gave up on that long ago. (Although he never seems to have any problem complaining the next day about how she disturbed his sleep with her wakefulness.) I've tried music, rocking, and white noise. I've sung until my throat is sore. I know more about sleeplessness and insomnia that most people should. And I'm at the point now where I just slowly shake my head and say, "Sleep is a mystery."

I think the only reason that I've even survived this long is because of my own past of being a horrible insomniac and the fact that I now go to sleep by 8:00 every night. But I've learned something about dealing with your own insomnia: when you
are ready to sleep you can. When dealing with someone else's, you might want to sleep, but they are keeping you awake and that's like a very slow torture. Screw waterboarding... if Bush really wanted to beat confessions out of detainees at Guantanamo bay, he should just put them up in my living room for a couple of weeks.

It's not like I don't know what I'm doing... we have a bedtime routine we stick to pretty religiously: 7:00 bath, 7:30 song, swaddling, etc., by 8:00 she goes into her crib drowsy but awake so she learns to go to sleep on her own. Some nights she drops right off to sleep, others she cries for a bit and we go in and comfort her every five to ten minutes. Generally, I might do that once, but it doesn't take long for her to fall asleep on her own. Textbook.

But that's not the problem -- it's later.
She will almost always wake up between 12:30 and 1:30. I can sometimes get her to go back to sleep at this point then crawl back into bed myself. But she only stays asleep for an hour or two and then she's up again at 3:30, screaming "Party time!" It's not even that she wants to go back to sleep and needs help. She's just done. So I wrestle with her for the rest of the morning but neither of us really gets to go back to sleep. Once three am hits, she makes it clear that she is NOT going back to sleep and infers that she may not ever sleep again. Or maybe I'm reading too much into that last bit.

I've tried the proverbial transitional object. This is not a transitional object kid, though she has a blanket that we use every night which smells enough like me that it should do if she wanted a transitional object. I've tried putting her to bed later AND earlier. I've tried both reducing and increasing the length and frequency of daytime naps. At various times, I've cut caffeine, spicy foods, vegetables, meat, fruits, sugar and white flour out of my diet. She seems to only sleep for about five hours a night. The problem here is, the rest of the family needs more than that.

A couple of weeks ago, I was so exhausted and frustrated with the whole thing that I just let her cry in her crib, thinking that The Dormouse, who shares a room, would get out of bed and come into our room if she woke up. When she didn't, I marveled at her ability to sleep through this... that is, until I started to hear a chorus of crying. I went in to remove her from her room and she was lying in bed with her fingers in her ears with tears streaming down her face.

"What's wrong, honey?"

"Baby is keeping me awake!"

"Well, why didn't you come into our room?"

"I thought you would come get her."

And that's when I felt like the world's biggest heel.

So when we had the opportunity to install a security system the other day, I didn't complain or bitch about the cost, I didn't do my usual I don't like to buy from salesmen who come to the door, all I thought was "The Dormouse could sleep downstairs where it's quiet with a minimum of concern on my part and she deserves that."

The Dormouse thinks of it as a great adventure and is thrilled with her new digs.

So I haven't solved the problem, I've just made the situation a tiny bit more livable because I feel like she can cry without my getting out of bed immediately to stop her.

Anyone ever go through this? What did you do that was successful - outside of FedExing the child to China? Because that option's just too expensive. I checked.