The first rule of Sleep Club is don’t talk about Sleep Club. Don’t mention it, don’t brag about it, ignore the questions. Any mom will tell you that the MINUTE you go squawking about how great your little peanut is sleeping, that child will be up every 90 minutes for the next 6 weeks. It’s a proven fact. Look it up.
I’m risking breaking this rule, though, because the relief I have been feeling lately is worth it. This isn’t so much a brag about how great Simon is sleeping, but more of realizing that we have turned the proverbial corner of babyhood from the miserable “WTF is going on, why can’t I figure this out???!” to the place of “I GOT THIS!”
Coming in at just under 6 months, it took me a while, but I’ll take it.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve gone from frazzled, emotional and stressed maniac to cool, calm and collected mama. Well, as cool, calm and collected as I’ll ever be. The transition has happened in stages, so it’s not like I’ve been totally miserable for the past 5.5 months. But the last few hurdles standing between me and my sanity (pretend I have some, I do) seem to have been conquered.
I’ve written recently about starting sleep training. We started sleep training to get him napping in his crib and out of the swing, to stay awake during nursing so he would get a full feed, to get him to sleep longer stretches at night and to keep bedtime from taking 3+ hours. It was gradual. The first couple of nights were great. Yes, there were tears, but he seemed to immediately get the gist of what we were doing. He has been napping pretty great and waking up consistently at 1 and 4 to nurse and go right back down. But bedtime was taking FOR-EV-ER if I let him call the shots and nurse himself to sleep. But if I cut him off from nursing when I thought he was done, he would then cry for upwards of an hour or more before falling asleep. We were stuck.
I was getting so frustrated. Yes, we had made strides, but I wasn’t able to sit down child-free with Paul until after 9 at night. And with an early-rising boy and an up twice-a- night infant, I need to be in bed by 10 or 10:30. This wasn’t cool with me. After a few weeks of hoping this would resolve itself (including a visit with my in-laws that saw me spend every dinner they were here stuck in Simon’s room while they ate, only to have Simon still awake after they were done), I knew something had to change, but I didn’t know what.
We tried letting him cry again with less intervention, thinking that was the issue. It wasn’t. He got too upset and I wasn’t willing to do that to him. But I couldn’t keep going back and forth, back and forth all night. So one night, I just kept nursing him past the point when I normally put him down. He typically nurses for 45 minutes and is dozing during this time. He would finish and I would lay him down, he would wake up and the drama would begin. Well, this time, after 45 minutes, we just hung out. Despite his little nursing siesta he had just taken, he perked up and wanted to cuddle. He played with my face and hair, I kissed him and made him laugh. He cooed and babbled, I whispered and tickled him. We did this for a few minutes, and then I could tell he was ready to sleep. So the lights went out, he finished nursing and when I laid him down, he looked up, rolled over and that was that.
I have figured out that there seems to be almost a quota of Mommy time that Simon has to get before he can peacefully go to sleep. I was cutting him off before he was done, and he was unhappy. But mommy was unhappy with no limit at all, so by guiding him into more independent sleep, we have struck what I think is the perfect balance. We end our day with a complete focus on each other. I am relaxed and am able to give him everything he needs. And he is happy as can be and is able to sleep great. After an hour to an hour and a half, Simon is snoozing and I am able to spend time with Paul, work out, meet up with friends or do anything I need or want to.
Because of this new found rhythm, I am enjoying nursing 100% for the first time. I suffered through pain, doubt, more pain, claustrophobia and frustration and now feel love, bonding and pride in what I’m doing for my child.
I am so looking forward to all the next events on the horizon with both my boys. Now that we’ve turned this corner, I can start enjoying the ride.