The Currency of Sleep
Sleep is the currency of parenthood. I don’t know who said that first but it is true. From the first night when that baby is awake 24 hours in a row; sleep turns into a much-discussed, missed symbol of life before parenthood.
After three kids I wish I could tell you the magic formula that creates a sleeping baby. But I can’t because despite the books, the old wive’s tale and what your neighbours are telling you. There is no one formula. There are good suggestions but no one perfect answer.
Our first child was a terrible sleeper, our second was pretty good and we celebrated our success and entered our third period of parenthood with the smug knowledge that we had it all figured it out. We were wrong, our third is not a great sleeper either. But we didn’t care as much. By then we had gotten over that crazy primal need for a good night’s sleep.
If you want answers pick up a book, call the sleep doula. Because I don’t know how to make that transition easier. But here are the things that I do know:
It will never get worse than those first few months with your firstborn. No matter how bad the subsequent babies sleep, once you get through those first four months it will never feel quite so bad again.
You will cry about sleep. And you will panic that you will never sleep again. You will feel horrible and and you will figure it out. And you will survive.
You will let the baby cry (maybe only once). I am not an advocate of the Cry It Out method, I think it’s mean and it doesn’t really work. PhD in Parenting has a passionate argument against it… But there will be a point when you will probably try it, and you will cave and you will most definitely fight with your partner while the baby is crying. It’s not personal, it’s just what happens.
F*ck your partner is a game of strategy. I’m sure you’ve played it (no, not the game that got you pregnant). It’s when you pass your partner a poopy baby and then hide under the covers. Or let the nap go long because you know hubby is on bedtime duty.
Co-sleeping is good. Don’t force yourself to walk down a hall in the dark, babies sleep with their mothers all over the world. Breastfeeding while asleep…everybody wins.
Your mother is wrong. Whatever she is telling you is not right. Goes for your mother-in-law too. They do not remember how much you slept or when.
It is your fault. Sorry, but if your toddler still doesn’t sleep through the night then you did something wrong. I am not judging because I have been there but you have work to do. Most of it will involve you playing f*ck your partner and trying to get them to walk your child back to their bed, over and over and over.
People lie about how much their baby sleeps. It’s part of competitive parenting. Some people will tell you that their baby sleeps through the night and they really only mean five hours at a time or they wake up at 5 a.m. The other extreme is when a mother will go on and on about how they did not sleep one hour the entire week – they did.
Everyone sleeps eventually. This is important remember whether it is in the middle of the night and you have been up for three hours with a baby or when you are worried about ever sleeping through the night again. Just repeat to yourself over and over: the baby will sleep eventually; I will sleep eventually; the baby will sleep eventually; I will sleep eventually…