In most aspects of life, I am an over-the-top optimist. I believe that there is good in anything and everything and I will search high and low to find it.... except when it comes to things I need, sleep being right at the top of the list.
Before my first son was even born, all I could think about was the absolute fact that I would never sleep again. Ever. It just was not going to happen. After all, you hear dreadful stories about babies screaming all night and moms being on-the-verge-of-death exhausted, so it must be that they just do not sleep. Needless to say, with him I never even began to try. Once he came, I had gotten to the point of acceptance and just kind of had the "let's do this" attitude. I promised myself I wouldn't let it bother me and I would just do whatever I had to do to get through however long it took to get him sleeping.
I kid you not, that child is now 8 years old and has maybe woken me up ten times in the middle of the night. I can't even tell you what I did, because I literally did nothing; he just slept so good.
With my second, the fear returned. Even though I now knew that the idea that babies will never let you sleep was a myth, I also knew that I could not get "lucky" TWO times in a row. I mean, come on that doesn't happen... So, again I braced myself and prepared for the worst. When he came, all of the thoughts I had with my first came rushing back. When he would wake up in the middle of the night, I would have to mentally prepare myself to be awake the rest of the day and I absolutely would not allow this to bother or upset me when.
And wouldn't you know, by 4 weeks, he was putting himself to sleep and slept a full eight hours each night. HOW COULD THIS BE? At this point, I got a little cocky. I thought, I must be THE world's best mother (in that respect, I'm also well aware of my flaws!). But I really started to believe that I had mastered the secret to sleeping babies. The problem was that when people would I ask what I did, all I could say was "nothing."
The true test came with my third son. Like I said, by this point I was super confident. There was no fear, I just knew I had this down. But with different expectations came a different attitude. When he would wake up and not IMMEDIATELY go back to sleep, I would be bothered. Not with him, but that my "do nothing" method was failing me. And suddenly, I had no idea what to do! I would find myself panicking and he would actually be up for hours and I would get so stressed because I HAD to get him to sleep so I could take care of my other children.
Eventually, he did catch on and was able to change his ways. This only happened when I changed one thing; my attitude. After a few months of sleepless nights and utter exhaustion, I gave up trying. I stopped expecting the sleep, and I stopped letting his wakings upset me. I accepted that it was happening, and just as with my other two; I basked in every single lonely midnight moment we shared. Now, that little guy is about to celebrate his first birthday and is my best sleeper!
Based on my experiences, I really believe that there is nothing more that a mother can do than just love her baby. Give up on the methods, and training, and parenting styles; just give up! Rather, be in the moment and accept that you are so lucky to be able to have those sleepless nights. I have no doubt that you child can sense your emotions and the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your baby will become and that will transcend into their sleep patterns. If you are stressed and irritable, they will sense that as well and that can hinder any rest they may want to get.
But getting them to sleep should never be the goal. The goal should be to create an environment that makes your child so comfortable and so at peace; sleeping will just come natural.