I love this photo so much. Taken at 6 pm on Sunday evening, about 2 hours before Miles usually falls asleep for the night. He skipped his nap that day. After an hour at the playground, dinner, and a few Elmo videos, he was looking very sleepy. I laid him down on the changing table so I could gather his jammies and diaper and in the 5 seconds it took me to do that he PASSED. OUT. He was so out he didn’t wake up as I washed his face, changed his diaper, put his pajamas on, and carried him to bed. That NEVER happens!
Sleep has to be the biggest capital-I issue with babies and young children, don’t you think? I hardly know any parent who hasn’t dealt with sleep-related problems with their little ones. There are as many sleep problems under the sun as grains of sand, and as many solutions too.
I think that Miles has tried all the problems, and we have tried all the solutions. We’ve been through nursing all night, staying up late, waking up early, waking up 100 times a night, rocking to sleep, singing to sleep, reading 100 books, bottles and cups of milk, binky issues, swing naps, car naps, no naps, Ergo naps, bed sharing, attempts at not bed sharing, needing Mommy to soothe, needing total darkness, being afraid of total darkness, and on and on. We’ve done “nighttime parenting,” we’ve tried “no-cry” solutions, every teething remedy under the sun, aromatherapy balms, we’ve attempted some admittedly half-assed versions of “cry it out,” we’ve stuck to a bedtime routine, we’ve nudged bedtimes earlier and later. And of course. There was the ear rubbing. If you’ve been here before, I need not say more.
For our 4th anniversary last October, Mike and I had a matinee date. The night before we’d been up for HOURS with Miles hysterically screaming as we attempted an ear rubbing ban and enforced crib sleeping. He’d fall asleep for an hour only to wake up more enraged than ever. I don’t think I’ll ever forget sitting at the diner table with Mike just feeling like we’d been emptied out and scraped raw inside. I’ve never felt so defeated as a parent. And I was about 14 weeks pregnant again. Oy.
Where are we at now?
The Good News:
Miles sleeps through the night, and NOT IN BED WITH ME. The improvements to my sanity that have resulted cannot be understated.
The Bad News:
He’s still not a great sleeper. I don’t think he ever will be – now, those words don’t strike my heart with icy dread anymore because at least he is SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT and NOT IN MY BED, and I can face the reality that he’s never going be that kid who falls asleep in 10 minutes and sleeps for 12 hours and wakes up all sunshine and roses.
Naps are completely unpredictable. I try to put him down for a nap consistently every day, but there’s no telling whether he’ll fall asleep or not. Usually, even if he doesn’t sleep, he will stay up in his bed chattering and looking at books so I can take a break for an hour. So that’s not too bad.
I feel so terrible for parents of younger-than-mine kids who are dealing with sleep issues. I just want to tell them/you all, if you think you’ve tried everything and nothing works? I believe you! And I want to give you a hug and pour you a cup of coffee. The one thing I don’t want to do is lend you a book… none of them had the answer for me.
I really do believe that there is no one size fits all solution for sleeping woes, and that for some kids there is no solution at all, just ways to cope and to make it suck as little as possible for everyone in the family. Makes sense, doesn’t it? – Adults don’t all have the same sleeping patterns either. I do think that unlike adults, kids need help with sleeping routines and they do need parents to provide some structure and consistency for them. But there are limits to what you can control.
We’re finally at a place where Miles’s sleep habits feel okay, and that is awesome since there were periods of time when I felt like his sleep habits completely ruled my life and that was not good. Now we’re going to start from square one with a new baby and who knows what that will be like! I like to think that he’s going to be a perfect sleeper because I’m “owed” one perfect sleeper, but I’m not crossing my fingers too hard.
I will say that something I might do differently this time is that I do not think I’m going to bed share automatically. If it turns out that Baby 2.0 is happy in his own bed, I’ll leave him there. Miles and Baby Brother both did/will start out in a bassinet by the bed, but then Miles moved in next to me. For a while it was easier that way because I could breastfeed in bed and then fall back to sleep in seconds. But I’m not sure it was worth all the drama that ensued with my ears becoming his love object and so on. I am happy to have baby stay in my room, but might at least try keeping him out of my bed. We’ll see…