Locked In: No. 5 of 40 Forts
Anyone who has been reading this blog realizes that we have been struggling with sleep in this household. Technically Lucy has been getting the appropriate amount of sleep, but it has taken a lot of effort on my part. I have been getting up with her several times after I put her to bed, plus once during the night. Also I have been laying down with her during the day. I have been imprisoned by my own child. Granted I have also enjoyed several old movies on TCM On Demand for Black History Month – Pinky, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and my new favorite, Lilies of the Field. But still, this had to stop.
So last week, I decided that I was going to pull out all of the stops and call Barnsley to see if she could do some surrogate tapping on Lucy. I first met Barnsley through a small business seminar in Chapel Hill. One thing led to another and I have been using tapping for five years now. It is like emotional acupuncture without any needles. If you are stuck on something emotionally, you tap key points on your body with your finger tips while saying different phrases.
I know the concept seems totally strange, but I used it to overcome my fear of flying before moving to DC. We didn’t originally bring our car with us, so my only way home was to fly. It left me feeling quite uneasy that I would not be able to comfortably return home. As that issue was cleared, it inadvertently cleared my life-long irrational fear of tornadoes. That night, I spent the night with Sarah and a thunderstorm was looming. I did not once feel compelled to turn on the weather channel to watch the satellite radar. I think that both of these issues stemmed from control issues. I don’t know why, but no need to wonder. They are gone.
To say that I was opposed to letting Lucy cry it out was not really accurate. But a couple of weeks ago, I sat down to do some surrogate tapping using the phrases from a case study on baby sleep. You can tap on yourself and even teach yourself. While I did the tapping as Lucy cried, it did seem to improve for that one night. Yet the results were not what I was looking for. She was still waking frequently. And, she was always fire engine hot angry. Not a normal, I-am-going-to-fight-this-sleep-to-my-death cry that I am hearing right now. But a furious ANGER was spewing that would not be stopped. In fact, after I returned from North Carolina, she cried until 4 am. 4 AM. This talk about oh, they’ll cry for thirty minutes one night and 15 the next and then by day three… No, no, no. It was a full on war in our house and she was winning. Trouncing us. Me! And I was consumed with it and what I considered to be “The Myth of Crying It Out.”
I wasn’t really interested in talking with mothers of infants, but instead elementary age children or older. They reassured me that their children were sleeping fine now despite their battle with the same sleep issues. Whew! I am going to be able to skip this. I decided I wasn’t going to do it.
So when I called Barnsley, she began by telling me that I was going to have to let her cry it out. I felt totally dejected. And then she helped me come up with a plan, a ritual, for helping her fall asleep easier. I reluctantly took notes. Once the coaching session finished and she began tapping, she said, “Wow! She has a hot temper.” Yes. I think that she got it from her daddy. So we started tapping. Lucy was really starting to babble while this was going on. But the end of the session, she had calmed down considerably. So I ended the conversation with a calm baby and a plan for going forward with crying it out. She promised me that it should be resolved within three to five days. She was curious about the results, so I promised to keep her posted.
8 pm rolled around and she went to bed with ease. I mean a miracle, easy-breasy, praise God moment. But within half an hour she was FIRE ENGINE RED again. I let her cry for ten minutes before going to reassure her that she was okay. That did not work. Earlier that day, when I would pick her, she would stick her arms straight above her head like a gymnast, so proud and determined after sticking the perfect landing at the Olympics. So I picked her up and handed her off to Henry. Then I went to prepare a bottle. He eventually got her back to sleep.
Barnsley had given me three key points to tap as she was crying. She told me that I couldn’t tap too much. So for the rest of the evening, I would tap every time I heard her cry. Despite the first rescue that evening, we were able to make it through without going back to pick her up. She slept from 9 until 6:45 am. Hallelujah!
Day Two: We did our little ritual of closing the blind, reading the book, holding the doll and nursing before the nap. We succeeded on both naps on schedule with just a few minutes of crying. And last night, she slept from 8:47 pm until I woke her at 8:10 this morning. Mainly because I had to feed her as soon as possible. Your body is not used to that drastic change in schedules.
Day Three: We are two for two on our naps. Both involved crying it out. But nothing over 30 minutes. And nothing as fueled by emotion as we had faced before. Except for now. Does she somehow know that I am writing this? We did have shots yesterday.
Talk about freedom. I cannot tell you the last time my baby napped by herself. Sometime around Christmas. I don’t know if it was before or after.
This summer when I was completely devastated by not being able to breastfeed Lucy, I contacted Barnsley to help me clear up my feelings. Essentially I realized that the tapping process didn’t automatically increase my milk supply. I still had to do the work of pumping. But my emotions didn’t stand in the way. And, as with this issue, I still had to let Lucy cry it out. But by neutralizing her emotions, we seem to be on the path of healthy sleep habits. (I didn’t have any homework with the fear flying or tornadoes. Some issues just go away.)
At the end of both sessions, Barnsley ended with a prayer. Plus she pulled an Angel Card for me. My Angel was the Angel of Release. I hadn’t thought about it from our first call, but I immediately knew I had her before. Ha! I bet that I thought I hope she will release this breast milk so that I can feed my baby! I wasn’t really sure what to make of it.
I did a google search and found a “letter” with inspiration based on this angel for this month. I thought that all of this was all a little odd (well, really odd) and was definitely keeping things interesting. But in the end, the words were also helpful to consider. The introductory inspirational message reads:
Let go of all that keeps you in the past or takes you into the future. This may include control, expectations, inhibitions, worry or an outdated self-image.
The letter also includes words that felt like I really needed to change Lucy’s bad habits now. Plus let go of some of my own feelings that probably stemmed from childhood. So be sure to read the full version, if you feel inclined.
This led to the inspiration of Locked In: No. 5 of 40 Forts.
The image of a heavy old steel lock is at the top of the structure. There is no opening to the fort, as with the other pieces. Instead a key is inserted into the lock. The key tag reads:
The key to her release was that the old ideas no longer pertained to who she had become.
This paper sculpture, roughly the size of a coffee cup, is one of forty forts I created during Lent 2010 as a creative exercise and spiritual exploration.