Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sleep Update: Because You Care

I seemed to have touch a nerve with my last post, as I have heard back from quite a few folks. I was honored to have another mom -- a high school friend I had barely talked to in decades -- tell me that I was her inspiration to try gently sleep-training her 18-month-old, and it worked in one night! Another mom from Sylvia's preschool had been lying down next to her 8-year-old every evening, and after reading my post, decided that maybe she could stop. She did, and he didn't bat an eye. Now, I'm not advocating that all moms stop cuddling their babies, but these two moms were ready for some space and just needed a little encouragement to get it. I was proud to help.

Many other moms have asked me, "So, are you enjoying getting all that sleep?" To which my answer is, NO, because we're not really sleeping. I mean, it's better -- better than when we were up every 45 minutes, and better in that Amelia sleeps in the crib and I have a little more autonomy and life is slightly more predictable. But after that first successful week, she backslid quite a bit.

First, it was a few fluky nights of more regular wake-ups. It turned out she had an ear infection, which required ten days of antibiotics. After letting her do what she wanted for a week (which was to wake up every two hours), I went back to trying to get her go longer. Somewhere in the middle of all that, she cut her first two teeth. Now, some nights, she can sleep five hours. Others, she's up after 1.5 hours.

The good news is that she has the skill set: I can put her down to nap wide awake, and she'll fall asleep within two minutes. Our bedtime routine is easy and non-taxing. When she does wake up, we nurse quickly and I'm back in my bed within seven minutes. The bad news is that some nights I barely get two hours of uninterrupted sleep. And I never know which nights those are going to be.

So, bottom line: baby sleep is rarely perfect. Even those of us who make the decision to try sleep training don't end up with perfectly "trained" children. Maybe some day I'll stop nursing her at night, which would likely end some of the wake-ups, but for now I think she needs me. Or maybe she doesn't. But we're doing pretty OK, we're getting by, and I know this won't last long. I'm trying to be zen about it, realize this is my last baby, my last time to snuggle and nurse and rock at 3 a.m. Meanwhile, I'm also cheering that soon (SOON!) I won't have to snuggle and nurse and rock at 3 a.m.

So I continue to be a poor example of What To Do or even What Not to Do. We are getting by. We are being flexible. And frankly, that's about the best I can expect with a baby. For those of you with natural sleepers: good on ya! For those of you awake all night: I feel ya. And for all of us caught up in-between: this too shall pass. We'll all get some sleep...in 18 years or so.

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