After a month of making everyone miserable, we have concluded that Wes is simply unable to drop his 4:00 feeding.
Instead of waking up with him at 4:00, feeding him, and putting him back down, which takes about ten minutes, we were "sleep training" him by letting him cry (with intermittent patting and shooshing) for an hour, during which everyone in the house was awake, then arguing for fifteen minutes about whether to bag it for the night or not, then feeding him and putting him back to bed (which takes ten minutes).
Arguing about parenting choices at five o'clock in the morning after enduring an hour of hysterical screaming? Not good for the relationship.
Crying it out is supposed to be the means to an end. Everything I've read says that the kid will "get it" around day three and then sleeps through the night reliably after that. That's how it worked for Charlie. It is not supposed to be a month-long battle that ends every night with everyone feeling miserable and defeated. It is not supposed to keep other family members awake (who are two years old and really really need their sleep so as not to be Crabby McWhines-a-Lot the next day, every day for a month).
So last night when he awoke at 4:00 I figured to hell with it and fed him and put him back to bed. After fifteen calm, peaceful minutes, both Wes and I were happily snoozing away. And Charlie never woke up. For the first morning in a very long time we had a happy breakfast together and a happy ride to school. Ryan didn't look at me like I was a bomb about to go off and I didn't feel like a bomb about to go off. He made me coffee, but it was because I asked him nicely to do it while I fed Wes, not because he was afraid without it my head was going to detatch itself from my body and turn into a giant yelling monster head hovering in space like the Wizard of Oz.
The change in Charlie was remarkable. He didn't lose it when we passed the firehouse and the firetrucks were inside. He didn't freak out when I wouldn't give him the peanut butter toast I was having for breakfast. There were no tears when I couldn't make the commuter train magically appear. He chattered away the whole ride to school then happily bounced into his classroom, put Blue Bear in his cubby and gave me a hug goodbye (Mommy Blog aside: He says "Dokey Dokey" instead of "Okey Dokey." It kills me). In contrast to yesterday, when he was so tired as to be near catatonic during lunch and I freaked out and called Pediatrician Man, it was heaven.
So, sorry CIO, we are through. If I have to wake up at 4:00 every day for the rest of my life at least we won't have to go to family counseling. Or jail.
The best part is not viewing Wes as a "difficult baby" anymore. He simply needs to eat at 4:00. And I am meeting a need, not "giving in." He is delightful most of the day and now we can enjoy our nights too. And that is the point of sleep training, isn't it?