When my oldest was born, my husband was working nights – getting home anywhere from 11pm to 1am. He was a student during the day, so when he came home – it sometimes meant homework, but definitely meant he was exhausted and ready to sleep.
Let me just set the scene for you:
It’s about 1 in the morning. I am sitting in the hallway of my house, new baby in lap. There are a lot of tears. She has tears, but most of them are mine. I am done. I am tired. I am exhausted emotionally and physically. The figure 8 path we have walked for hours just doesn’t seem to be working tonight. The sound machine isn’t sounding right. The songs I sing are filled with exasperated breaths.
The votes are tallied - three months in and I am a failure at being a mother.
Why won’t she sleep?? Doesn’t she know that I can’t function without rest? Doesn’t she understand that sleep solves a whole lot of issues??
My oldest child was not a great baby-sleeper. She just wasn’t. I had exhausted every method in the books and nothing worked. But no one told me that maybe the methods wouldn’t work on her. No one mentioned that some kids aren’t great sleepers.
Why don’t people tell me these things???????
Because parenting can be (at least with the first one) a guessing game. There is no rule book out there that was written specifically for your child. I am sorry to break it to you honey. Some plans work and some don’t. But it doesn’t mean you have failed her. It doesn’t mean you are the worst mother ever (sleep deprivation is true form of evil with a mind of its own planting seeds of doubt and despair into your mommy-tired brain. And don’t get me going on the difference between tired and mommy-tired. If you know what I am talking about – I’m fist bumping you right now ). Why that seems to be a check off box in the “World’s Best Parent” category I will never know. Complete strangers would ask the same series of questions: how old, what’s his/her name, is she sleeping?
Sleep is a funny subject. It becomes a hot topic when you are a parent. Somehow you are a better parent when you have a kid that sleeps well. And hey, the earlier in life they sleep well – the better. Stars for you in your holy crown.
Sorry for my pessimism, but it is true. So many parental conversations seem to revolve around sleep. I was obsessed with figuring out my child to get her to do what I needed her to do. Bless her heart – she never took me seriously. Now she’s 5 and to get her out of the bed in the mornings for school is an act of congress. I truly think she is winning at life over me.
A revelation did finally hit me one day. I learned to not expect great sleep. I learned to just roll with the punches and do what worked for us. What worked for us looked a lot like getting her down for the night after a routine bath, lotion, PJs, book, and milk. It also looked like 12:30am when she would cry out and my husband or I would go get her and just bring her to bed with us.
Don’t you dare think those judgement thoughts – we already had a series on mom-judging. Daddy and mommy had to get up and go to work the next day – somebody had to sleep.
Then came baby number two.
He slept on my chest for the first 3 weeks of his life. Then he slept next to me until he was 5 months old. I transitioned him to his crib and he’s been there (mostly) since. Teething, colds, and upset stomachs can disrupt our normal pattern, but by and large he sleeps all night long in his own bed. My daughter finally did this when she was 2. My son is now 18 months. My husband and I are both of their parents. I have the same bed time routine for them as I did 5 years ago.
Moral of the story: Every. Kid. Is. Different.
You just gotta do what works for you. If your method comes from a book – great. If it was momma-intuition- wonderful. If it was trial-by-fire- fantastic. Whatever gets you there and keeps mommy and baby happy – that’s all we can ask for my friends.