The first cries came at about 3:50 actually. I'm not sure exactly what precipitated them. Perhaps a bad dream, or a stomach ache. It might have even been triggered by my 3:20 trip to the bathroom, but whatever it was Lukas was upset and letting us know it.
After a few minutes of semi-upset crying where we were in a half awake state hoping he would go back to sleep (we usually give him 10 minutes to put himself back to sleep if he wakes in the night) Luke began to call out "da"...."da-da"...."DA-DA". So I went into his room, finding him sitting up in his crib clutching his blanket and sobbing. I hugged him, told him it was 'night-night time', spread out his fleece blanket, laid him back down, and covered him up. I then sat there rubbing his back for a couple more minutes before finally heading back to bed.
He was quiet for a few minutes, but we ended up repeating this cycle another time before Lukas finally put himself to sleep a while later. It took me longer to get back to sleep, however. I just lay there, thinking about everything under the sun, waiting to make sure he was really out for good. I was thinking about how far we have come from only a few months earlier when anything could (and would) happen during those 4 AM wake ups. As it turned out, I eventually slept soundly last night, but only after drifting in and out of sleep several times. During that sporatic sleep, I had a couple of short dreams which I remember only bits and pieces of. One where I woke to a group of people releasing a flock of bird from a non-existant balcony off my bedroom and another where I tried to turn off my alarm and dropped it on the floor with a loud thud, breaking it into several pieces.
Lukas didn't stir.
As time has passed it has become much easier to understand what our son needs during those late night bumps. Although we can usually figure it out, I look forward to the day when he can talk to us and tell us what sorts of things are bothering him, especially in the middle of the night.
I don't know why he woke last night but what he needed was reassurance, a hug, and to know we were still close by when he needed us. Mrs. LIAYF and I are always happy to oblige.
Don't get me wrong. I am glad nights like these are getting fewer and further between, but knowing that I have a child in the next room who needs me and is comforted by my presence when something is not right in the middle of the night...well that is golden. I know that I won't always be needed like I am now.
How about you? How do you comfort your young children when they wake in the middle of the night? Does it become more likely that they will want to come to bed with you after they are out of a crib, even if you never brought them to bed with you before that? I'd like to hear your thoughts.