It’s 10am on Monday morning. I’m sitting ont he bed while at its foot, in his crib, M shouts. He’s been awake since 4.30am and is refusing to sleep. Well, strictly speaking that’s not true; he;s refusing to sleep unless touching me. The laptop plays Baby Mozart lullabies, I’m talking continuosly to reassure him I’m here and above us, in the landlords flat, the neighbours question why on earth the baby is screaming, still. In between M’s protesting shouts at the indignity of being asked to sleep alone, their scrutinising conversation floats down to me.
Babies and apartments do not mix.
One of the reasons we’re ion the sleep mess that we are now is that we’ve desperately tried to ensure M does not disturb our neighbours in flats above and below. If he’s cried in the night our instinct has been to silence him as quickly as we can because to be woken up by another persons crying son is not exactly what anybodys neighbour wants. Babies are instinctual creatures and cotton on quickly, understanding within days that crying will earn them an extra cuddle/feed or if its 3am, a trip into Mummy and Baba’s bed. G and I became unintentional co-sleepers in large part due to this.
In the beginning, co-sleeping worked for us. M was calm, slept a full 10 hours, neighbours weren’t being disturbed and G and I were rested. As time’s gone on, it’s less and less the sleep solution we’re looking for…only now it’s hard to see a way to break the dependency on co-sleeping the second half of the evening without waking the entire neighbourhood in the process.
The apartment we live in frustrates us in many ways, but the biggest problem is the noise. Were it built in the UK, this building would have failed all checks for insulation and floor/ceiling thickness. The concrete separating us and those above and below is so thin we can hear cupboard drawers opening, baths being splashed in – a screaming child is a zillion times louder than any of these everyday things which disturb us by making us feel intruders in someone elses lives.
Right now, 25 minutes into this nap attempt, M’s still shouting – he stops the instant I pick him up, starts instant he’s put down and the shouts really do sound like I’m hurting him/ignoring his cries. Without x-ray vision it’s impossible to say exactly what’s happening above and below our flat, but judging by the conversation snippets being spoken louder than the rest (intentionally so I can hear or am i paranoid?) the reason the baby is screaming and not being comforted is having an impact on their days.
Is this fair? Am I out of line, being a bad neighbour to try to sleep train my baby even though I know it’s disturbing other people?
The past three nights we’ve tried to implement an independent sleep routine with M. At 9pm, he nurses and is held to sleep. Once asleep he’s put into his crib and, though it may take a few pickup/put back downs, by 9.30pm he’s been asleep. The problems start after 12, when he wakes up again. As soon as his body hits the mattress, he wakes. And shouts. And is picked up. Repeat and start again. And again. And again. It doesn’t matter what tricks we’ve tried..warmed blankets/mattress, rubbing of the back, holding of his hand, singing/talking to him..the only thing he wants is to be held, or, to be brought into bed with us. I’ve resisted bringing him back to our bed – this time we need to see the transition through – but I have no choice but to pick him up and hold him; I can’t let him wake up the neighbours in the middle of the night.
So here I am. It’s now 10.38 and he’s been shouting for almost 40minutes. He’s not quite so loud now, and is settling down, but the neighbours have been subjected to carrying out their morning routines to the tune of not-so-melodic crying.
Babies and apartments do not mix.
In my head, it’s better to disturb them in the day and try teach M independent sleep at nap time than it is at night, yet still I dislike it. Really dislike it. But I don’t see an alternative.
Any suggestions? I’m open to all.