One of the first things I noticed as a new mom was the seeming obsession people had with sleep. Namely, mine and my baby’s.
“Is she sleeping through the night yet?!!!!”
“Are you getting any sleep?”
“You’re not going to get any sleep for the first two years.”
“How’s she sleeping?”
At first, I thought it was just people’s way of making small talk. You know, kind of like the weather or sports.
Then I noticed the…weirdness surrounding said conversations.
“How many hours straight did Nugget sleep last night?”
“Ha! My nugget slept for five.”
Um…ok. That’s wonderful. I didn’t realize our babies were in a competition.
“How many hours straight did Nugget sleep last night?”
“Tsk, tsk. No. You’re definitely doing something wrong. When that baby wakes, make Hubs get up and get her, shush her, and put her back in her crib. You stay away.”
First of all, we bed share, so there’s no crib. Second, my baby is 8 weeks old. I have zero expectations of her sleeping through the night. Third, if she wakes, I’m going to nurse her. And fourth, no one can keep me away from my baby. But thank you for the (unsolicited) advice!
I quickly discovered that people wanted to dispense advice on where, when, for how long, and why my baby should be sleeping.
Heaven forbid I ever vent once in a while with a comment such as, “Oh man, am I tired. Nugget was up last night at 3 a.m.” That was the equivalent of Moses parting the Red Sea, inviting everyone and their mother to chime in on the conversation.
“Put some cereal in her bottle. That’ll help her sleep through the night.”
Uh…#1, she’s 8 weeks old. No solids for her yet. #2, We EBF (exclusively breastfeed) and she doesn’t take a bottle. #3, I don’t expect her to sleep through the night!
“So how long are you planning on keeping her in the bed with you?”
I wish I had a pithy remark for this one. Why do you care??? Are you sharing my bed?
“You need to do CIO.”
No, actually, I don’t. And I won’t. But thanks!
As I write this, I am yawning. Truth be told, I’m EXHAUSTED. I think Nugget is going through a growth spurt/teething/jet lag/learning leap/whatever you want to call it phase. I’m wiped out.
But here are my thoughts on the whole sleep thing.
I’m not really big on labels…but the more I research and delve into the land of Facebook parenting groups, the more I realize I am part of the “AP” (Attachment Parenting) crowd.
I am definitely, wholeheartedly, 100% not a fan of CIO (cry it out). I have friends and family who do it and my life in the interim would be so much easier if I did it…but my heart could not handle it. Always do what’s best for yourself, your child, and your family! I will always respond to her cries. Always. I have no judgment against those who parent differently than I do. Even if it’s different that other folks’ ways, I am happy with the way I choose to parent.
A mama in one of my FB groups wrote this beautiful sentiment about sleep and it stuck with me. (I wish I could remember her name or which group she was in!) She said something about how it’s not our job to “teach” our babies to sleep but rather, to provide them with a sense of safety, comfort, and love..and eventually, they will go to sleep. I love that. I know not everyone will agree with that but to each her own. I keep that close to my heart during those nights when Nugget and I are both struggling.
From what I’ve read and from my own personal experience, babies are not meant to sleep “through the night”. Adults (and babies) wake up several times throughout the night. We (adults) sometimes don’t even realize it because we are able to fall back asleep right away. Babies wake up because…that’s what they do! Maybe they’re hungry, maybe it’s nature’s way of preventing SIDS, maybe they want a cuddle. Our (adult) version of “the night” is at least 8 hours…a young baby sleeping 4-5 hours, to me, is considered “though the night”. Baby’s gotta eat!
I know that the days are long but the years are short…that these moments of rocking and shushing and pacing the floor with her are limited…that there will be an end one day to the sleepless nights.
I find it ironic that even though I look forward to when she finally falls asleep so I can rest/eat/take a break…when she finally does, I find myself staring at her, longing for her to wake up because I miss her. (Of course, I’m no dummy. Never wake a sleeping baby!)
I find it fascinating that one day, she napped from 3 p.m. – midnight (probably because we had been traveling…but still) and the next day, she skipped all naps and was up from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sleep is something you simply cannot force. Or predict.
In the meantime, I try to respond to her cues (rubbing the eyes, mostly) and follow somewhat of a schedule (nap time happens between 2.5-3.5 hours after waking). We do our best. Some days, it works like the charm. Others, well…
There’s always tomorrow.
Parenting, much like my baby’s sleep, is ever changing and never static.
If you could take away a few bullet points from my experience, take away this:
- Do your research and follow your instincts. Do what’s right for you and your family.
- Understand that people are always going to give advice. I find it easiest to smile, nod, and then continue doing what I’m doing (as opposed to arguing about it or being rude).
- Then again, be open to advice. Some advice can be quite helpful!
- Don’t bring up sleep in conversation (or any topic, really) unless you understand the ramifications.
- Don’t compare your baby with anyone else’s. Your baby is his/her own individual!
- Sleep when baby sleeps. (Ha. Had to throw that one in. Can’t count the number of times I was told that.) In all honesty though, I try to!
Wishing you and your baby sleepy dust,