I sit here today to type this with an eleventh month old who has never slept through the night. That's right - in eleven months I haven't had a full night of sleep.
it's actually more than that if you count all of the middle of the night pee pee runs while I was fat and pregnant.
Some of you can probably relate, while others are probably so glad they are not in my shoes. You want the truth though?
I'm not sleep deprived, I'm not living off of Red Bull and coffee and I'm not pulling my hair out.
In fact, I've learned a lot in my sleepless eleven months.
When you have your first baby, you really have no clue what to expect. You have no clue what to do or what will take place. You're told a million different things by family and friends of what to do when it comes to feeding your baby and getting your baby to sleep.
Yea, you're told a million.
While it's only out of love that people try to help you with advice on how to parent your child or just simply advice on how to get a good night of sleep, it can really mess with a mama's head. I have learned to not let others mess with my head, mess with my heart and confuse my intuition. A mother only knows what is best for her child and for many of us, it's different things. Each baby is different and all of the research is there to show you that most babies are not actually "the average baby" in terms of things like sleep. In other words, they all do things differently.
So really, there
And in other words, when someone tells you that the average baby is supposed to sleep through the night by
blah blah blah
months, you can tell them to stuff it because your baby isn't average.
That's right folks, my baby is above average, so take that.
In my mind, when it comes to sleep patterns, I have learned that there is no average baby. There's just a bunch of different babies with a bunch of different mamas. These babies are all fed differently and all have different routines. Therefore, you just have a whole bunch of "not" average evidence that makes a bunch of "no" sense that can't be put into any sleep training book.
If I had to give a new mother any sleep advice, I'd say to do what works for you and forget what anyone else has told you
Back in the day (like way before your mama's time), things were different. There weren't baby trainers or sleeping training books; there wasn't commercialized formula and there wasn't fancy cribs that went into a room a mile away from the mother. Babies were not on schedules and there wasn't an "average." Mothers and babies slept in close proximity (pretty much co sleeping) and babies suckled from their mother's breast whenever they wanted and for however long they wanted. And if your body didn't produce the goods, there were wet nurses to handle it for you.
Yea, that last part kinda creeps me out, I ain't even go lie.
I'm pretty sure back in the Little House on the Prairie days, they weren't reading What to Expect When You're Expecting or the ever so popular sleep book, Babywise. They were just doing their thing with how they knew best. And that my friends, was to just simply let baby be a "baby" and to follow their cues and to respond to their needs with how they felt was best. I'm not saying that those little prairie kids never cried it out, but if they did it wasn't because someone told mama to let them do that. It's just simply because mama felt that was perhaps best at the moment.
Okay, so what the hell am I talking about.
I wasn't even around for the prairie days.
Heck I'm just making this crap up.
Okay, no really
. Most research points in the direction that supports the crap I just made up.
I have been told that if I rocked my baby all the time that she'd always depend on me rocking her and I was told a butt freaking load of times to put her down awake and let her cry it out. Well guess what folks? I rocked my baby up until about a month ago when she just decided she didn't want to be rocked anymore. That's right, my baby decided she didn't need it.
My baby also puts herself asleep at night and for her naps now. But guess what else? I didn't do cry it out (okay she cried like once for twenty minutes because I was literally at wits end. Glad that's off my chest). I started at one point to put her down at night in a drowsy state. Sometimes this worked and other times it didn't. If she started crying I was in her room within 3-5 minutes to get her. Then I'd rock her sweetly to sleep (after sticking a boob in her mouth) and she'd go back down peacefully in my arms. I'd place her little sleeping self in her crib and tip toe out of her room and thank God for her finally getting to sleep.
I've had nights of her waking up fifteen million times, although truthfully this only happened a few times and was usually the result of teething or over exhaustion from busy days with no naps. In those few nights I've shed a few tears out of confusion and exhaustion. Exhaustion for the obvious reason and confusion for the simple fact of A) not knowing exactly what was wrong and B) going against my gut to try and do what others told me to do.
Do I let her cry it out? Do I respond immediately?
Do I not nurse her so she doesn't become dependent on it?
Do I just hand her a pacifier and say "here kid, now go to sleep?"
I tried cry it out like
. I respond immediately
the time (if she is crying, not just whining) and I nurse her
. A few nights I tried to not nurse her at the suggestion of so many others, but that just resulted in way too much crying for the both of us. Which scenario would you rather: A) listen to your baby cry for 25 minutes or B) respond immediately, nurse her and get her back down within 10 minutes and let yourself fall peacefully back asleep three minutes later.
You do the math there.
I have learned that scenario B works better every time.
At least for us, that is what works for us.
And while you're thinking that my child will never learn to sleep on her own, I say that is bologna. She doesn't depend on rocking anymore and she now puts herself to sleep always. Occasionally she fights it and cries, and I respond immediately. That's my job. (Side note: I wrote this post last week and since then my baby slept one night from 9-5:30 and several other nights she did a six hour stretch).
So, so far I have already proven two "theories" wrong. Well, I don't know if you'd call them theories, but you get my jist.
And while she still wakes anywhere from 1-2 times a night, I expect that to fade once she's weaned. FYI, breastmilk digests much quicker than formula, so this can explain a lot in the case of Baby A sleeping all night and Baby B not sleeping.
So yea, that's about everything that I've learned. You have to follow your intuition and take other's advice lightly. No one, not even Mr. Babywise himself, is really a baby expert. All babies are different and you're the only "expert" who really knows your baby. All you can do is to follow your own beliefs and to listen to your heart (and to load up on coffee if you need it).
One day she
sleep all night, and I'll wake up missing her. And ten years from now I'll miss feeling her little warm body in my arms in the middle of the night, with her sweet little eyes closed as she nurses sweetly and then falls asleep while I steal more kisses from her pursed lips than she'll ever know.
Yes, I will miss that
I can always catch up on sleep later. For now, I'm enjoying the ride.
What are your thoughts on sleep training
and sleeping through the night?
Thanks for reading, Sasha