There seems to be a lot of training involved in raising a child: sleep training, potty training, training wheels, vocational training…I’m still stuck on sleep, though. At first, I wondered who the callous woman could be who could listen heartlessly to her baby’s cries and not go to the child. Then, I realized that the more sleep deprived one becomes, the easier it is to harden one’s heart in the name of some shut-eye. I’m not quite down with the cry-it-out method; I think I would cave too often and render it ineffective – but I certainly understand the impetus.
Training a child to expect that when she cries no one will come to her seems cruel to me. Judging from what I’ve read on the Internet, I am not alone in that assessment. However, I do envy the uninterrupted sleep of those who sing the praises of CIO, just as I envy the longer naps of formula-fed babies. Doesn’t mean I’m going to start feeding my daughter formula, or start letting her scream alone in the dark without coming in to see what’s wrong. But I fantasize about sleep…
I haven’t slept in a year. I was one of those poor souls who got saddled with pregnancy insomnia and pregnancy rhinitis (feeling as though you have a cold while pregnant.) When I did sleep, I was propped almost to a sitting position by many pillows in the forgiving arms of a couch. I could not envision ever being able to lie horizontal again, as doing so made me feel like I was drowning.
So after I gave birth, I expected to resume my formerly solid relationship with my bed. Ah, the folly of a first-time parent! The bed is for nursing, cuddling, co-sleeping (gasp!!) and occasionally changing diapers. My own rest is an afterthought. I am able to lie horizontally; I just don’t get to do it for very long. I often find myself making room for the baby in the bed as a form of bribery. This strategy has actually bought me many precious minutes, as I can pull her close the minute she begins to fuss upon waking, but lately, she has foiled me by also requiring a diaper change.
I stare longingly at my bed during the day. It calls to me from the nursing chair and the changing table. Alas, when I finally get into it, I take a while to relax into non-mom mode. Sometimes, I can’t relax enough and my screens lure me. And, let’s be honest: the bed is usually littered with baby clothes, burp cloths and toys that keep falling from the changing table to the floor. I have to shove everything to the side just to lie down, and I know that instead of lying down, I should be putting all that stuff in its proper place. Guilt is not the best sleep aid.
Update: As I write this, my daughter is a few days shy of turning 6 months old. She’s eating some solids (one meal a day) and these were supposed to help with sleep. They do, to an extent…I now realize that her night of sleep is broken up into sleep periods. Period 1 is the part that starts with her evening bedtime routine around 6pm: nurse, eat oatmeal cereal, take bath, nurse and have story time with sleepy music playing, burp, rock, sleep, go from arms to crib.
The sleep achieved from this routine may last anywhere from one to three hours. Then she’ll wake up and need a diaper change and more nursing, usually around 8 or 8:30pm. This begins the second sleep cycle, which can last beyond midnight if she has fed well and doesn’t notice her wet diaper. She wakes again between 2:30 and 4, this time for a diaper change and comfort feed. I usually pull her into bed with me after this one, hoping that my proximity and warmth will keep her asleep, but she’s usually up by 6:30 anyway, hungry and sporting another wet diaper. And that’s how my day begins.
Thus, I remain confused about the phrase “sleeping through the night. I would amend it, in my daughter’s case, to say “sleeping THROUGHOUT the night.” There is sleeping, and it happens at night; but it’s not continuous.
Her first two teeth came in, and that was pretty rough.Took me right back to those inconsolable colic days. She got her first cold too (courtesy of Grandma, whom we call Abueli) and spent a few nights being cuddled and coddled in Mommy’s bed…but for the most part, she sleeps in her crib, and there are times when I think she prefers it! She’ll roll away from me and get grouchy until I put her in there and give her her space!
So the sleep journey continues…I’m nervous about telling the pediatrician that I can’t bear to sleep-train her, but I’m the parent, and I have to find a way that works for both me and my baby.