But in my short time as a mom, I’ve realized something. And it may have to do with my fall into my own weird version of attachment parenting. It’s something remarkable and probably not seen as smart by many, but it just sort of happened…
I’ve given up on sleep training.
Let the barrage of advice and warnings begin. I know, “I’m setting her up for failure”, “she will never sleep well on her own”, and “you will be constantly exhausted.” And yeah, all of the above will probably be true. But honestly, I was putting way too much pressure on my baby and me to get the sleeping thing down and it was ruining my attitude toward her.
They say sleep is the biggest contributor to PPD (post-partum depression) and I think I struggled with it during Maggie’s newborn months. And sleep was definitely the issue.
Fast-forward eleven months later and we’re still struggling with sleep. Maggie regularly wakes up two or three times at night and is ready to party around 6:30 am. Usually I last until about 4 or 5 am and then I bring her into bed with us, but I won’t lie, the last few nights we’ve only lasted until 11:30 pm.
I’ve come to the realization that my baby is an awful sleeper. Always has been, probably always will be. It shouldn’t be a surprise actually, I had trouble sleeping on my own as a kid…maybe it’s hereditary.
I’ve tried all the tricks and sworn miracle working tools. Same result. We got down to waking up once a night, but then we moved into a new house and ruined her sleeping pattern. I was upset. I was frustrated. I devoted nights to training once again. And then I realized something.
She still needs me. All of her new independence and self-sufficiency doesn’t last through the night. She wakes up in the dark and cries for me, for my comfort and presence. I used to think I was doing the right thing by not giving it to her. By lying her back down and listening to her screams outside her room until she cried herself to sleep. I kept thinking “she’s almost a year old, she should get this by now.”
Then I realized how flawed my thinking is. Is listening to my (albeit, very stubborn) baby cry all night while I get a few hours of sleep really in both of our best interests? This was happening for weeks without results. It couldn’t be right.
Then I let go. I let go of the expectations, the disappointment, the frustration, and the feelings of inadequacy. I started enjoying my time with my baby again. I take my time to rock her back to sleep, I let her fall asleep in my arms, my hair tangled in her fingers. I nurse her during the night, even though the doctor says she doesn’t need it.
I’m cherishing my time with her, even the nights. Yes, she is almost a year old. Yes, I would very much love it if she slept through the night in her own crib. No, I’m not trying to “keep her as my baby” by not letting her develop her own sleep pattern. I’ve worn myself down to a nub trying to make something work that obviously isn’t for us.
And it’s better. So much better. The weeks of sleepless nights that got us nowhere are over and at least we’ve developed some sort of way to help ourselves. The time will come when she is able to make it through the night on her own. The time will come when she won’t need me to comfort her. Until then, at least I’m not sleep deprived!