It's Okay, My Baby Never Slept Either
The other day I was chatting with my friend who just had her first baby a few months ago. Somehow baby sleep came up, because it usually does anyway, and we began the ever so popular discussion about how her new baby was sleeping. You could tell she was hesitant to admit he was still waking up and that she was almost not okay saying it. I could feel a part of me in that moment - like I was looking at myself six years ago when someone would ask how my baby was sleeping. I dreaded that conversation with each child that I had because every time I was left feeling like maybe I just was doing something wrong.
Why is it such a problem to society, to grandmas, to friends, too whoever…that some babies just don’t sleep all night?
Mine never did until well over a year old and I am NOT ashamed to admit that now.
Yes, to everyone reading this my babies never slept through the night. Get over it.
Immediately after I told my friend this, you could see the weight lifted off of her shoulders; it was like she could breathe suddenly. She found solidarity knowing that she wasn’t alone when everyone around her was telling her that her baby should be sleeping through the night just because their baby did.
Placing this pressure on new moms, especially first time moms, is unhealthy. It’s not normal to assume that all babies should sleep through the night, in fact most research shows that they will not do so for quite some time.
For whatever reason how well your baby sleeps as an infant seems to be the measure of whether or not your baby is a “good baby.” In some cases it almost seems as if older generations use a baby’s sleep record as a measure of whether or not you’re a “good mother” too.
When new moms feel like their the ONLY one whose baby has yet to sleep a six hour stretch, they immediately began to question whether or not they’re doing something wrong. They may question whether they should continue nursing and just switch to formula, whether their baby is “getting enough milk,” whether they’re just being “too soft” and should let their baby cry more and so on and so on. Can you imagine the pressure (and mind games) that a mama would feel questioning her every move just because some old lady said her baby should be sleeping through the night?
That is intense. New moms have so much to deal with already. Our vaginas feel like they’ve been set on fire, there’s not enough pads in the world, our boobs are like rocks ready to burst, our hair is greasy and full of dry shampoo and we probably still ain’t drinking enough dang water. We are doing the best we can and that’s all we have. I don’t care if your baby slept all night Susan. Mine can fart and sneeze at one time — we all have our own unique abilities. ;)
So excuse me that my baby didn’t sleep all night and yours did. Maybe that just means my kid liked me more and wanted to see me 24/7! Ha, kidding.
What it really just means is that every single baby in this world is different and so is every mother/baby duo. There’s no one correct way to sleep train, there’s no one perfect sleep book out there, there’s no one perfect swaddle or straight jacket that will help all babies sleep and there is NO law that says your baby should be sleeping by a specific time frame.
Those things do not exist.
What exists is a world full of advice, full of sleep books, sleep methods and a crap ton of swaddle styles. It’s a world where some books and some things work excellent for one family and horribly for another. It’s a world where some mamas don’t everrrrrr have to read a sleep book and their child sleeps like a rock star from day one (#jealous). It’s a world where my baby can sleep all night one night and cry like a crazy banshee the next.
It’s an imperfect, exhausting, loving and glorious world. A world with no right or wrong when it comes to baby sleep other than making sure your child goes to bed with a full belly, a safe environment and a home full of love. THAT is what matters. Not the hours between the good night and good morning kisses, but all of the kisses in-between…no matter what the schedule is. Each moment I get with my baby is a gift. Even through exhausted eyes and a tired soul, each precious moment of rocking that baby is a blessing because one day, there will be no more rocking and I will miss the long nights.
Embrace the beauty of it. Don’t judge another mama based on sleep and don’t brag about your awesome baby who earned first place in the sleep category. Just tell her that her baby is adorable and that she’s rocking this whole thing and then offer her some coffee.
We need more support, more solidarity and more “You’ve got this mama!”
And most of us, need more naps.