When my daughter turned one I thought our sleep issues were behind us. She slept through the night on her birthday and continued to do so for a few days following. Then some time in the last few weeks things began to fall apart again. She started waking once, then twice and is often up for hours in the night.
My son was a horrible sleeper too, but only for the first few months of his life. He slept through consistently from 10 months on, but my daughter is different. She’s extremely attached to me and soooo inconsistent. What works one day doesn’t work the next.
I think the hardest part in this whole sleep thing is not so much the exhaustion (and that shit is brutal) but the constant questioning. Constantly trying and wondering: What am I doing wrong? I’m always thinking of ways to ‘fix’ it and that in itself is exhausting.
Yesterday I picked up a book I haven’t looked at in a while – Healthy Sleep Habits Healthy Child – and became convinced that I needed to do something (again) about our situation. I decided I needed to just let her cry.
And so last night I did just that. And she cried. And she cried. And she cried. After half an hour I was so agitated. My stomach was in knots and I could feel the stress seeping out of my pores. After an hour I started to feel sick. And angry. And annoyed. And sad. I questioned my decision but didn’t want to go in and “teach” her to cry for an hour. After 1.5 hours I couldn’t stand it any longer and I went in and nursed her to sleep.
Now, just so you don’t think I’m totally heartless, she wasn’t scream crying the whole time. It was a lot of protest crying and it was kind of on and off.
Today is another day and I don’t want to do that again tonight. But I don’t know what to do. And so I meditated on it, because at the end of the day, no matter what the books say, I need to do what feels right for me. And last night did not feel anything close to right.
After I put her down for her nap I sat on my bedroom floor. I closed my eyes and took five deep breaths. I then posed the question: How can I get my baby to sleep better at night?
And I listened. And this is what I heard:
Go to her.
This phase may be extremely difficult but it will not last. She will eventually sleep through.
I will not be breastfeeding her forever. For not much longer in fact, so relax into these final late night nursings.
She is my last baby.
And she is growing so fast.
I opened my eyes and felt my eyes well up.
Yes, I’m tired. I’m also confused and conflicted. The books tell me that I am not helping her by nursing her in the night. Her paediatrician suggested sleep training. My husband wants me to let her cry.
But my heart tells me otherwise. And as a mother I trust that more than anything else.
At least I’m trying to.