Sleep. I love it, and I miss my old sleep patterns so much. I’m one of those people who has always loved sleep. I could stay up and party with the best of them, but most of the time I’d be in bed by 10 at night, asleep by 10:30 and happily lie in until eight or nine in the morning (when I didn’t have to go to work, obviously). Then, we had a baby, and all that changed. She hasn’t been a horrible sleeper, but she never did that whole sleep through for 12 hours thing. Ever. The best I’ve ever had is six hours of straight sleep, followed by a few more two to three hour intervals.
Recently, I started reading about night weaning as a means of helping her sleep through the night. But the more I read, the more everyone seemed to say that we had to get her bedtime routine down, that she had to learn how to soothe herself to sleep or she’d always need me to help her fall back to sleep in the middle of the night. While the articles made sense, I simply don’t believe in sleep training. I know it works for people, but I’m adamant that I will never let Harley just cry, that while it might teach her to “self soothe”, it also breaks her trust that I will always make her feel better, that I will always listen when she needs me.
So, I figured I’d try the whole put her to bed while still awake (but drowsy) thing. But now that she can stand in her cot, she’d stand up once she was in there and start calling for me or playing with the sides of her cot or pretty much anything other than sleeping. So I’d go to her, lay her down again, tell her I loved her but it was time for sleep, and then leave her alone again. This went on for HOURS. She decided it was actually such a fun game, to the point that if I saw her standing in her cot and told her to lay down, she’d throw herself down, laughing hysterically. I tried not to laugh, but it really was rather adorable.
As cute as it was, though, I was getting pretty anxious about the whole thing. Everything I read online, and what I was told at Harley’s school, was that she needs to be getting 12-14 hours of sleep a day. With her going to sleep around nine at night, that just wasn’t going to happen, even with her one to two hour nap in the afternoon. Besides, everyone was saying how great it was for the kids to sleep at 7:30 because not only are they well rested the next day, but as parents we also get a break and the evening to ourselves. In fact, I was losing my mind about the whole thing – how could I get her to sleep? Did I really want to do sleep training with her when it went against everything I felt about how I wanted to raise her?
Finally, I decided to just go back to how I normally was. Let her sleep a bit later if that’s what happened naturally and just go with the flow. And what happened? She fell asleep easily at 8:30pm. She slept for an hour, had a bit of a cuddle and went back down until about 2am when she nursed and slept again. At 3:30 she woke up and would scream whenever I tried to put her in the cot, so I ended up bringing her into bed with me to sleep. Now, some of you might know that I am against the idea of co-sleeping, mainly because I think that then no one actually gets any sleep and it violates the marital bed in some way. And I still feel that way… but we all got to sleep from 3:30 until alarms went off at 5:30.
No, it wasn’t a perfect night’s sleep. No, the “sleep experts” wouldn’t be happy with me. But you know what? I felt calm and happy, confident and at ease. We all had a decent night’s sleep.
It’s funny how even as a confident, alternative and quirky person, I can get bogged down in the “right way” to do something. When do I ever listen to that crap in the rest of my life, and yet somehow I was being made to feel like crap about Harley’s sleep when really she was just fine. Every kid is different, every family is different – what works for some won’t work for others. We have a sleep situation that’s working for us, for now. Sure, I’d love to get a solid night’s sleep again, but that will happen eventually… probably just in time for me to have a second baby and lose it all over again.