Flashback: This post was originally written on June 16, 2012, before I eventually decided to sleep train.
I knew back when I was pregnant not to expect too much sleep when Baby Cobi arrived. But I definitely expected those milestone moments I see every other parent boast about, "Baby A slept 6 hours last night!" said one parent friend on Facebook while I was pregnant. I was excited at the prospect of hitting those milestones with my baby.
My baby-sleep thought process has been long (beginning at birth) and ever-forming. During the first couple weeks I knew Cobi had to eat every 2-3 hours anyway; the first night home from the hospital we laid him in his bed after his feeding and went to sleep ourselves. I set the alarm for two hours out so as not to miss a feeding. Twenty minutes later - guess who was awake! Of course this continued through several weeks. In a state of pure exhaustion, we gave co-bedding a try. Baby Cobi slept with us at about 4 weeks old; the first night was incredible - he slept a 5-hour stretch. I was impressed and totally on-board with co-bedding if these were the results I was going to get.
But true to a baby's fickle nature, baby did not continue this wonderful sleep pattern. For the entire second and even third month his sleep was manageable, dare I even say, completely acceptable. He would go to bed around 8pm on our bed, and we'd join him around 11pm, which is when he would have his first feeding. He would wake around 3am, 6am and finally 8:30-9am. I was totally okay with this schedule, as co-bedding allowed me to stay half-asleep through each feeding. Even the Mr. loved co-bedding. He loved waking up with his boy by his side.
Then we hit 3 mos old, and guess who hit a sleep regression! He went from lovely 4-5 hour stretches consistently to 2-hour stretches all night long. This mama went from reasonably well-rested to exhausted in a week.
I researched a lot of sleep-training methods. I read The No Cry Sleep Solution and many, many articles online. I considered the Ferber method - "Cry It Out" (CIO), but knew before Cobi was born that that was not something I wanted to do. I also looked into a more gentle sleep training method that involved putting him into his bed drowsy, but awake and let him fuss and squirm (but not cry), until he fell asleep on his own. If he cried, I'd pick him up, shush him, soothe him and then lay him back down. I did this one night and it was a nightmare. Every time I set Cobi back in his bed, he would inevitably start to cry hysterically. This broke my heart. I would pick him up and he'd immediately stop crying. He really just needed his mama's loving arms. And after that emotional night, I was OK with that.
It was from there that my sleep thought process was truly developing. After experiencing the pain from any crying method (even though it wasn't supposed to be a crying method), I realized sleep-training was not for me. I was given some perspective by reading various other blog posts on the matter.
Jacobi is my baby, my precious three and a half month old baby. He IS a BABY. Babies notoriously don't sleep well. They are too young to grasp the concept and when they awake it is often for a need. I remembered all the other moms who told me how fast the time goes by and how soon they are going off to kindergarten, or graduating high school. And I decided that I am going to cherish this time while Cobi is my baby, while he needs me. I will get exhausted, yes. I will have moments of weakness when I don't want to get up and tend to his needs. But in the end, I know that this time as my precious baby boy will be short-lived. I will never know if, in ten or twenty years I will regret not holding my sleeping baby and cherishing these moments. But, I will do my best to make them last.
We did end up buying a crib for Jacobi with the end goal of him sleeping on his own. After we had a few nights of him (in our bed) waking every 1-2 hours because he wanted to nurse, I came to the conclusion that after a few months of co-bedding, it may not be for us. Cobi wakes because he was wanting milk all night long. We moved him to his crib, in his room, about a week ago and things have been going a lot better. He definitely is sleeping more than two hours at a time, and often has four hour stretches. I realize for a nearly 4-month old baby it is not a significant feat, but it is for us. And I am grateful for each day he is my baby, and each day he needs me.
Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
- by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton