Let’s Talk About Sleep

An amazing friend of mine just had her fourth baby. We went out one night, and, with that desperate pleading a mother of a newborn has, asked me if my kids sleep. I almost did a spit-take because, no, and then my heart just ached for her.

She has one good sleeper.

I can relate.

There is so much out there about how to get your kids to sleep. When I was a brand new mom, there was the Ferber method, where you essentially throw them in the crib and let them scream themselves to sleep. (At least, that’s what it felt like to me, the one and only time we tried it and that poor child screamed for 3 hours while my husband and I kept talking the other down from rescuing that poor baby.)

I spent years pleading on my knees every night that I could get some sleep, and then would pray with my husband about the exact same thing.

My babies were not those amazing kids that would sleep for hours on end. They were the kind that wanted to be fed every two hours, thank you, day or night. Growing was going on! And gas. And ear infections. And colds. And …. you get the gist.

I would keep track of what time it was when I got up, got back in bed, settled down enough to go back to sleep, and then got up again. And then I would compare the amount of sleep I got to what my husband got. We had to one-up each other with our amount of wakenings. And let me tell you, I’ve heard finances are one of the top causes of divorce; sleep comparisons could have been a legitimate reason for us.

Finally, after my repetitious prayers were going nowhere, I came to the (prompted) conclusion that I just needed to suck it up.

Even if/when I did finally feel like someone was finally sleeping pretty well, someone else would get sick. I spent many a winter night in the garage with a child’s head over the deep freeze breathing in the freezing air to calm the incessant croup.

Or someone would have a bad dream and need to snuggle for a bit.

Or someone had an accident that needed to be taken care of. (Or, if I’m being honest, the child got relocated and the mess waited until the morning. We’re talking survival here.)

Or vomit.

Or a trip somewhere where it starts all over again.

Or, in those baby days, a move. That was about every 18 months.

Or I was pregnant. There is no sleeping when I’m pregnant because I’m either vomiting, or I have restless leg, heartburn, or a backache.

Or my husband was on a work trip. There is just not sleeping then. Period.

There are a lot of “or”s there, but I think you get the picture. No uninterrupted sleep.

I transitioned from feeling desperate and angry every time I had to get up with someone to just realizing that this is what I signed up for. And let’s face it. The only thing that has been removed from that list is pregnancy.

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And in case you’re reading this, nodding your head in agreement and relief that you’re not the only one, here is a picture of my baby, who will be five in a few months, with his reward he just earned for going to sleep on his own and staying in his bed for the whole night. Survival mode got to the point of just scooting over and letting him snuggle in instead of getting up and fighting with him to go back to sleep in his own bed. If I have to actually get up and function at night, I’m up for at least an hour before I can go back to sleep. If I let that little cutie snuggle up close, I’m back to sleep in 5 minutes.

Here’s all I’m saying. Sleep is amazing. Do what you have to to get what you need. If that’s a 15 minute nap every afternoon so you don’t want to sell your children at bedtime (guilty), then do it! If your baby needs to get in bed with you until he’s five, it’s not a big deal. If you’re kids don’t sleep well, you are not alone.

The terrifying part is, I don’t see any change in the foreseeable future, as I have one who is approaching teenhood, and I’ve heard the sleep and worry is even worse then.

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