Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sleep Training Graduation Day

I can't say for certain since I've never been, but today I am feeling what those leaving rehab must feel. For nearly four weeks, I've had daily calls, progress reports, helpful suggestions, and continued reassurance regarding Blake's sleep from our baby whisperer, Lin Elderkin. This morning at 9:30, Lin phoned, as she has done for the past 27 days, to find out how Blake had done in the night. My report was filled with exuberant joy: "We took him to our friends' where we were having dinner, put him in his travel cot where he slept without a peep until we got him out at midnight, drove him home and put him in his cot here where he then slept without a peep until 8:20!" Lin replied with the thoughtful phrase I've come accustomed to hearing: "What a good boy." And I couldn't agree more...
Then, with a guarantee that it wasn't "goodbye" and that I could phone her whenever I needed to in the future, our call began to come to a close. I started to get a little emotional and did my best to express my thanks, but at 9:30 in the morning when I'm not the most eloquent, I found it hard. How also do you really thank someone for giving you back countless lost hours of sleep, a newfound perspective on your child, and the ability to feel that anything can be achieved with consistency, expectation-setting, and that almost-forgotten feeling I had in the first week of "tough love." I'm sure I'll do my best to put it into words to her, but at the moment, I am not sure I'll find all the ones that are needed.
Looking back on the first Sunday in January, I am amazed at how far we've come under Lin's guidance. In our first phone call, I am sure that she detected the doubt in my voice when she told me that Blake would be able to sleep until 8:30 on weekends (in fact, I doubt much sense of detection was needed as I probably said something like, "Reeeeeeally?!"); as I was to find out, it wasn't the first time that she would prove herself right. One of the things I realised this morning was that not once do I remember Lin saying the words, "I told you so." Instead, she would say, "There you are," which somehow made it seem a reiteration of the fact that we'd been given a gift. That gift, of course, was better, longer, and more predictable sleep for everyone, but most of all for Blake.
I've had tears fill my eyes once already as I've typed this, as I imagine would be similar if I went on a retreat or camp and had to eventually part ways with a trusted advisor or teacher. I bet the families on the show SuperNanny feel the same as they see Jo's black London cab drive away from their houses. Although of course I've never met Lin, nor do I even know what she looks like or exactly where she lives, her presence has been woven into the fabric of our lives over the past month. Matt will certainly tell you that the two names he's heard most over the past four weeks are Blake and Lin, and perhaps not even in that order! I know we're going to be fine without her on the phone, but this morning I did have questions: What if we slip up? What if it all goes wrong? What if Blake somehow knows that our time with Lin is up, and goes back to waking throughout the night and never napping? Then I quickly remind myself of Lin's words about keeping to the schedule on the weekend when Blake can catch up on his sleep ("You can't go wrong," she says), and know that we're going to be just fine.
When I took Lin's number from my friend Kate in the pub one night in mid-December, I entered it into my phone's Contacts list as "lin elderkin WILL MAKE BLAKE SLEEP," in case by chance I wandered upon it sometime in the future and couldn't remember whose number it was and why it was there. Dialling Lin in early January feels like one of the best things I've ever done, and you can be sure I won't be deleting her number anytime soon, not that we'll need if it she is right yet again, as I know she will be. Actually, I know it by heart now anyway, so if you or anyone you know might need a little help from a baby whisperer, just let me know.

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