sleep to come

sleeping_never

It is my veteran opinion that the conscientious art of sleep training occurs to a mother right around the time she needs it. I’ve seen it in myself, I’ve seen it in other mamas. They get a firm look on their face as they talk about the absurd lengths they’ve recently gone through to get some sleep. And there’s knowledge in their eyes–the infancy period is over and it’s time for the family to have some predictability. There’s a suspicion in the air that everything is being sacrificed for the baby. Dinner, other children, an affectionate marriage, mom’s energy and enthusiasm for life. I personally suffer from a faint sense of bitterness around this time. I don’t ask for it. I don’t want it. But it arrives, lurking in the back of my mind, when one small part of me knows the baby could sleep better, long, harder, deeper, than this. When I know it’s up to me to bring us there. When I know it’s been me that got us into this mess, by feeding willy-nilly at all hours of the day, and letting naps be on the fly or not at all, letting the 2am wakeup slip back in, and then an 11pm wakeup, and shifting bedtimes every day as my calendar demands.

Oh but it’s hard for those few days. When I’m in the moment of it I just want it to end end end. I can tell it is not hunger crying and I don’t want to be counted on to feed at 11pm but my surging hormones want to solve this now. It sounds so wonderful to go in and calm her. But you know if the exact same thing happens tomorrow, and the day after, it will not sound wonderful. And after that heady ten minutes of soothing, I’ll think to myself, what have I done?

And so you have to write a schedule down, or find one in a book, or tell your husband or call your mom. You have do something, out loud, that affirms the logic of it, that reviews and confirms what you’re planning.

With Joan at six months, I’m in this right now. I talked it over with Joe and realized that our day schedule had no predictability for her. As of the beginning of this week, she wasn’t even falling asleep on her own during the day. So I’m fixing that first–paying more attention to the time going by, putting her down for naps, awake, at the same time every day, timing the space between feedings.

And then next week we’ll tackle the nights; and after three or four nights we will all sleep happily ever after. Not really, of course. But I can praise a few of the results for you, from experience: after sleep training you do end up with a baby who can fall asleep on their own, who doesn’t wake up at the slightest discomfort crying out for you, who errs on the side of sleep rather than wake when changes come—like being sick or traveling.

 

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22 Comments on "sleep to come"

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Nina
Nina
3 years 11 months ago

Loved this post! I wholeheartedly agree. Sending you lots of good vibes and support as you sleep “guide” your little one. :)

bridget
bridget
3 years 11 months ago
beautiful picture. and gosh, yes. i often think of that quote you said to me, sitting at my kitchen table. something about my mothering and convenience (or lack of!). you were right! i often think, “oh, with a second child, i’ll do things differently…” i remember getting frustrated at parker sometimes and thinking, “this is my fault! not his!” the lack of sleep training — what we did, as you know! — doesn’t make sense when you’re getting frustrated at the child! i think i let those surging hormones rule all… i will say, now i have a great sleeper… Read more »
bridget
bridget
3 years 11 months ago

and of course, good luck with it! we’ll have to introduce mimosas to the next playdate cause you’re gonna need ‘em :)

Blaze
Blaze
3 years 11 months ago
I think ( for both my boys anyway) 6 months is the pinacle of terrible sleep! “Sleep training” is just not for us but with my second one especially I came thiiiis close to trying it. I felt like I was spending all my time trying anything to get him to sleep, especially during the day & feeling like I was neglecting my toddler at the same time. We co-sleep so nighttime wake ups don’t really bother me but man, the fighting of naps drives me batty. It’s also especially hard maintaining consistent nap times with the second while continuing… Read more »
Jaime
Jaime
3 years 11 months ago
We are in a similar boat, though my baby’s nine months — he’d been a wonderful nighttime sleeper until 7.5 mo then started having 1-2 wake ups (not bad, I know). But those night wake ups combined with the fact that I’ve always nursed to sleep for naps and night have turned my baby into one who can’t fall asleep unless he’s eating or moving. I feel so much guilt that we’ve landed in sleep training-ville, as I do believe that he’s naturally a good sleeper (he started STTN at 10 weeks and naps 3-4 hours/day, despite nursing to sleep),… Read more »
beaktweets
beaktweets
3 years 11 months ago
This is a great post. I think a lot of mothering comes to a mother when she needs it. I tell my friends all the time, “You’ll just know!” with so many different things. Sleep is the hardest for me, though. I have two terrible sleepers and I know it’s in large part because of me! Meredith has some other things fighting against her, but I can take almost all the responsibility with Mattias. He slept well early on, but then I got lazy and just fed him on demand all throughout the night. So here we are at almost… Read more »
Erin Clifford
Erin Clifford
3 years 11 months ago
My children are 10 months and 2 1/2 years and with January came new schedules and more of a routine than they have had (especially at Grandma and Grandpas). So we’re in the sleep training business again. I’m trying to think of it like training for a race. You go out and run because you know the day of the 10K the training will be worth it. (I don’t run, but I think I’d like to – maybe after I master sleep training) You sign up for the second race and the training continues because you don’t want to lose… Read more »
Laura
3 years 11 months ago

Good luck! I imagine it will be a difficult week, but the results might make everyone happier! The picture is so sweet.

Caitlin Pelton
Caitlin Pelton
3 years 11 months ago
Great post! Sometimes you are just spot on with the timing of these! I found myself almost texting you today but then I checked this! Sleep training, and my hormones are in a major battle with hormones coming out on top. Which in the middle of the night with Finley my sleep deprived mind says…. Stop! You are creating a monster! By Monster I mean that in I love this child so much but I am letting her run my days and nights! So after reading this I am refreshed and motivated to go up against sleep training once again!… Read more »
Hannah
Hannah
3 years 11 months ago
Sometimes, I feel angry at the mother’s and websites that made me think I absolutely should not ever ever not even a little bit let my child cry herself to sleep. I think of my sleep deprived self, leaving for a 13 hour day of work at 4 am after a tiny sliver of sleep, and I just feel mad. Mad that I did that to myself, mad that I bought so hard into that idea. Our family would have been much happier if I had helped Violet learn to sleep, instead of thinking that I had to be a… Read more »
Erin
Erin
3 years 7 months ago

Where was this photo taken? Is this your bedspread?

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