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.
I share my story because I don’t want other new parents to go through what I went through. My advice is simply to trust yourself and trust your child. You know what’s best for your family and your child knows what they need. Babies are born with personalities and preferences that can’t be accounted for in a one-size-fits-all parenting philosophy. Children are more resilient than we think. If Plan A doesn’t work, keep trying until something does.
I went in to parenthood prepared. I had a decent amount of baby experience and figured I was as ready as someone can be to have your life up-ended by a tiny human. My husband and I discussed cloth diapering (we wanted to try it), sleeping arrangements (pack-n-play and crib only) and birth plans (unmedicated hospital birth with a doula). I knew that all of our plans needed some degree of flexibility as we figured out what worked best for us. Then our fuss-a-saurus, E, was born.
Last night, my four-and-a-half-month-old daughter slept in her crib for the first time. This was huge — not because co-sleeping isn’t working for us, and not because I even think that it’s so important that she can sleep in her crib. This was huge because it reminded me how making decisions as a parent works for me.
I had read and read how “happy” attachment parenting babies were. Because they had confidence due to their needs being met, they were “good” babies. They didn’t cry if they were being breastfed on demand. The breast cures all! All articles had photos of smiling moms and babies that made parenting look so easy. I wish I would have come across one article that told the truth: “This isn’t going to be easy.”
I spent a very big chunk of time the other day “wearing” and holding my three week-old daughter, Evelyn. The night ended with a bad stomachache (hers triggered mine) and by the time my husband got home and scooped Evie up in his arms, I was relieved. I slept for four hours, alone, in a pitch black room. I practically melted into the sheets. It felt good to be a separate entity, even if I was asleep for it.
I’ve been having a very difficult time trying to marry my feminist ideals with my thoughts on what a mother should do, and I have a lot of hang-ups about whether or not I’m making enough sacrifices for my daughter.