I was spoiled with my first baby. I didn’t think so at the time, as Toddler Girl screamed bloody murder every night around 6:00, but I was. Because when she was done screaming? She slept. And I would stand there in the living room, swinging my baby around (sideways, with a soother, while shushing, swaddled…yes, Happiest Baby did work for us!) thinking “eventually she will fall asleep. Then I will sleep. And it will all be happy times until morning”. Okay, so that actually wasn’t all that great either, now that I think about it. The point is, Toddler Girl had a high sleep need (and still does). She loves sleep. She gets excited for nap time. Toddler Girl, my two and a half year old, sleeps more in a 24 hour period than the baby does.
Wonder Baby despises sleep. Sleep is for babies (other babies). Sleep is for those who don’t have really important things to do like learning to crawl. Sleep is for babies who live in boring houses where nothing fun happens and there are no toddlers playing or kitties bouncing about. Sleep is for the weak.
I keep thinking that I will figure it all out. I will find the perfect solution and write a great blog post about how I got my baby to sleep well. Because surely, if I’m a good enough mother, she will start sleeping like an average baby. Instead I am writing to you all about how I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that she simply does not sleep well, in hopes that if you are reading this, and your baby is driving you crazy with the sleeping, you will feel a little less alone.
At first I thought it was because she was a newborn. Then there were sleep regressions, teething, wonder weeks, and physical milestones. It took until 5 months for me to admit that while there was always a reason for her poor sleep; she never really slept well. Wonder Baby will occasionally have a week or two between all those sleep distruptors where she will sleep a bit better, but better is still waking up at least twice a night and napping for around 45 minutes at a time. I haven’t had an uninterrupted night’s sleep in seven and a half months.
I have read about five books on baby sleep. Mostly I want to throw them in the hypthetical fireplace for not understanding how very hard it is to figure out a baby’s sleep with a toddler bouncing around you. I have to put them both to sleep three nights a week. When WB is having a rough go of it, crying and demanding all my attention, Toddler Girl tends to have potty accidents, making me feel like a doubly crappy mother. They have, however, taught me something useful, and we have made some small improvements. The Baby Whisperer has been the most helpful with the pick up/put down method. I can now get her to fall asleep in her crib instead of in my arms and nursing. Or at least I could until last week.
I was feeling semi smug (always a bad sign) last week. I had her down to only a dream feed and an early morning feed, and she was often sleeping straight through in between (only 6 hours, but it was progress). She was taking two naps a day, one for 45 minutes and one for 1.5 hours. Her sleep was steadily improving. I thought “Ha! I’m totally going to write an amazing blog post about this!” Then it all fell apart again. She refuses to take a morning nap and wakes up multiple times between bedtime and the dreamfeed. Her early morning feed has somehow crept to 4 in the morning (which really isn’t morning in my books). Why? There is no typical 7 month sleep regression and the wonder weeks chart shows a sunshine over this week (which made me shout “lies!” at the computer). Teething? Crawling? Growth Spurt?
I really couldn’t tell you. The moral of this story is that babies are a mystery. I’m treasuring her smiles, shrieks of laughter, and the softness of her chubby little cheek against mine and remembering that her babiness might be exhausting, but it’s precious and so very sweet. And surely someday (maybe not today, and maybe not this month) we will all sleep.
PS – the photos are a couple months old. My army crawling child is not still swaddled, in case you were worried.