Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sleep. Or Lack There Of...

Just about every day (seriously) someone asks me "is she sleeping through the night?" Referring to Fina, who is now almost 9 months old. My answer "um, I don't know." How is that my answer you say... well, it's because she sleeps with me and when she wants to nurse, I feel her scoot toward me, I allow her to and we are both back to sleep so quickly that I hardly know we were awake. Doug, well he has no idea when she wakes up.
Sleep was not as straight forward when Cooper was this age. I think there are many reasons why that is. For one, he is just a different person than Fina but one reason is simply my growth as a mother and Doug's as a father. Let me back up a bit...... When I had Cooper my mom told me something that I have NEVER forgotten. She said "you hold that baby as much as you want and don't let anyone tell you that you can spoil a baby." What great advice that is. As soon as you have a baby the judgement comes. "Boy, he sure likes to be held." "Don't make the mistake I made by letting your baby sleep with you." "You better not pick him up every time he cries or he will think that is normal." "What?! Your baby doesn't sleep through the night and he is past 6 weeks old!?" It's almost like bullying. Society tells us to separate from our babies, to leave them alone in a dark room to cry because you don't want them to manipulate you. Really? Can a baby manipulate? I spent so much energy worrying about Coopers sleep. He needed to be with me and I will admit that I needed to be with him. But, I was new to this whole parent thing and I let the comments get to me. I worried that I was "spoiling him" because I enjoyed sleeping with him. I worried that he would be in our bed FOREVER.
He was a very troubled sleeper, but that was how I was as a child. It is a joke in our family that I slept with my parents until high school. You know what? It's true. If I was having a rough night, I crawled into bed with my parents, no questions asked. And guess what? I moved out at 18 and have been on my own since so I guess I turned out alright. Still, even though this was how I was parented, I doubted myself because everyone was telling me to. "How can you stand it that he wakes up 3 times a night and his is 18 months old?"
Well, one night I had had enough as many sleep deprived parents do and I decided that I was going to let him cry. Well, he was very verbal at an early age. He was about 13 months old and he was beside himself in his dark room, scared and miserable. Wondering where his loving parents were. From the monitor I heard him say "All done, mama, all done." My heart sank. I cried and looked at Doug and we ran in together to pick him up and snuggled him. I asked Doug "what are we going to do" and he looked at me and said "we are going to tough it out and never let that happen again." And we did. We never let him cry it out again. We worked with ways to get him to sleep soundly in his own bed when he was ready. He now sleeps almost 12 hours every night in his own bed. I still lay with him until he falls asleep, but I don't mind. Really. I am not sure why people think I should mind, but I don't. He's my child and I don't fault him for needing me at bedtime. He is only three.
I know that some of you out there believe in cry it out, and that is fine. Not everyone can get up all night with their baby. There is more than one way to parent. But for our family, this did not work. These are small people that we created who need us to love them and be with them. It is not the easy way out, that's for sure. It would have been nice to have the babies that slept all night in their own bed. But I will admit, I like sleeping with my babies. As for our marital relationship? Well, we had a second one didn't we :)
I just want to say that if you are sturgglng with sleep ask yourself. Are you really struggling with it or are you feeling the pressure? Like my mom told me, hold that baby as much as you want and snuggle all day if you feel like it! Why should we feel guilty for that. They are human and they want contact. They grew inside you for 9 months. I am here to tell you that you can't love your baby too much or spoil your child with love or attention. Cooper sleeps beautifully now. He still crawls in bed with us when he needs to but that is not that often.
When I was looking for support on this subject when I felt quite alone in the parenting world I looked to Dr.Sears online and Mothering.

Enjoy your children. That is not something to feel guilty about.


  1. Right on Mama! Growing up, all 3 of us slept with the rents until Dom had to sleep across the foot of the bed b/c he was too tall! Since 17 I've been just about as independent as they come and Missy lives in another country! I'm happy that you do what your heart tells you to.

  2. "you hold that baby as much as you want..." That has to be some of the best advice for a mom.

  3. Good advice! Isn't it crazy what a mess we were as 1st-time moms?! Having Elise has taught me so much and made me a better mom to BOTH my girls. She is actually sleeping through the night these days--we'll see when the next evil toothy shows up to ruin it!



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