Parenting

The Quest for Sleep

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One of my favourite parenting memes is the one that says “I was a perfect parent… until I had kids” because ain’t that the truth.

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It’s so easy (SO EASY!) to say with absolute certainty what you will and won’t do with your children. Then you have children and sometimes doing the things you swore you wouldn’t do is so much easier and saves a lot of heartache.

Once, back in my high-horse pre-kid days, I declared I wouldn’t feed my kids sugary junk and unhealthy foods. Guess how long that lasted. While driving through New Brunswick with my 8 month old daughter, who was fed up with being in her car seat, I sat in the back with her while my husband drove and fed her small spoonfuls of whipped cream from a fancy Tim Horton’s drink. One of my finer parenting moments? No, but it bought us an extra hour on the road before we had to stop again.

Another thing I was fairly adamant I would never do was sleep train and let my baby cry themselves to sleep. My daughter was very much attached to nursing herself to sleep and unless she was deeply asleep, she would wake up as soon as I put her down and we’d have to start all over again. It was frustrating that no one else could really put her to sleep and many nights I considered starting some sort of sleep training. I had lots of friends that did it and their kids didn’t seem any worse for wear. But we never did, and I was okay knowing that eventually she would stop breastfeeding and she wouldn’t need me to hold her every night. I instead shifted my focus to enjoying that time together because as long as it feels at the time, it truly does go by so fast.

My son also prefers to nurse himself to sleep. He does take a pacifier, which helps take some of the pressure off of me, and can usually be put down without waking up. And I wouldn’t mind nursing him back to sleep when he wakes up in the night except that he still wakes up every 2 hours or less. For the past 6 months, 25 weeks, 175 nights, I can count on one hand the number of times I have gotten more than 2-3 hours of consecutive sleep. It’s hard to enjoy that bonding time when it happens all the freakin’ time. Add to the mix that he does not nap for more than 30-40 mins max at a time during the day.

I am sleep deprived. My husband is sleep deprived. My son easily becomes overtired and can cry unconsolably when that happens. I get easily frazzled and find myself snapping at my sweet toddler who is just trying to help.

This week we tried some sleep training. The first night we tried sitting beside him crib while he fell asleep without my boob or a pacifier. He cried on and off until falling asleep about 40 minutes later. I didn’t like it but it wasn’t as bad as I was prepared for. The wakings every 2 hour hours and needing to repeat the process was what got me. Letting him cry in the dark, even with me beside him, was too hard. Both my husband and I caved and, during separate wakings, gave him his pacifier.

We’ve since found a new routine that seems to work. I nurse him then change him and put him in his pyjamas. Then into the crib with his pacifier while I sit beside him and gently rub his arms or face. He’s asleep within ten minutes.

He’s still waking around every 2 hours overnight but I’ve cut back feeds to every 4 hours so in between, my husband can go in and pop the pacifier in. It means we can take turns more evenly and get more sleep.

Today, for the first time ever, my son took a nap in his crib for almost an hour and a half. Twice as long as his longest naps and almost 3 times as long as his usual naps. I checked on him twice to make sure he was still breathing.

Even if he wakes up again every two hours tonight, I feel like the tides are turning and longer sleeps are coming.

For now, the glimmer of hope is enough to keep me going.

He’s asleep again now for nap #3… let’s see how long he stays down!

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Anyone else had to sleep train or suffer through a less-than-ideal sleep situation? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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