I don’t know what I expected regarding sleep with a baby, but it certainly wasn’t that he’d be waking up every hour to two hours at night at six months old, having done this for several months.
We fully intended to follow the National Health Service‘s guidelines on reducing SIDS — keeping him in our room until six months old before moving him into the nursery down the hall. Because of course, by that point he’d be sleeping through that night.
Surprisingly, that isn’t where we are now. And I had given little thought to our relationship would cope in this situation.
Don’t worry though, the nursery isn’t unused — my husband sleeps there more nights than he doesn’t, as he doesn’t cope well at all with disturbed sleep. At night, my son needs me, so in the morning I need my husband to be well rested and take him so I can nap before he goes to work.
At six months, our son is the prime age for sleep training, or so they say. We won’t be doing sleep training with him anytime soon, as my ability to cope with the night wakings far exceeds my ability to leave him alone to cry.
I feel a lot better about this than I did a few months ago. I have stopped expecting tonight to be better than last night, so I am no longer disappointed when it isn’t. My expectations have adjusted and I now expect him to learn to sleep over years rather than weeks.
Quite a lot of our parenting techniques haven’t turned out to be what we expected.
In fact… quite a lot of our parenting techniques haven’t turned out to be what we expected. The all-singing, all-dancing Travel System we carefully researched and purchased has barely been used (though it makes a good shopping trolley) as both my son and my husband and I are happier when he rides in the baby carrier. We seem, somewhat to my surprise, to be accidentally attachment parenting him.
We’ve been taking it day by day, and I thought I had better check in with my husband on where he sees this going. In some ways he gets the raw end of this deal…
I get plenty of affection and snuggles with my son whilst my husband is at work. My son gets his needs met to the very best of our abilities. My husband’s interaction with his family is often a few snatched hours in the morning and evening whilst he looks after his son and his wife collapses. Perhaps this wasn’t what he signed up for. Perhaps he would rather try and force our son so that he fits in with a more sensible adult schedule.
There is little point to throwing all our energy into meeting our son’s needs if it results in his family falling apart. His need to be comforted throughout the night doesn’t outweigh his need for his parents to have a strong marriage.
My husband’s take on this thing? He trusts my emotional judgement more than he trusts his own, and if I think that this is what our son needs right now then he’ll do whatever needs to be done to facilitate it for as long as it takes. What a gift, and what a burden!
I pointed out that he may not quite have realised the scope of what “as long as it takes” might be. That, although our son likely won’t wake hourly forever, it’s normal for children to not sleep through the night consistently until age five.
My husband thinks about this for a moment. It’s a big ask, I know. He tells me that some of the generation above us have been making noises about how we need to start setting boundaries and limits with our son. (Surprisingly, they haven’t tried taking this tack with me!). He tells me that, in light of that, perhaps we had better stop talking to them about how we’re handling the nights.
This man. This wonderful man. We’ll be alright.