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I did it all wrong with sleep.
I remember our first night in the hospital, my peaceful, sleepy son began screaming as soon as we turned out the lights and laid him in his bassinet. After picking him back up and nursing him again and repeating the process of crying and screaming I remember telling my husband, “Oh my God, I think he is afraid of the dark! Turn on all the lights!”
This of course did not fix our sleep problem but was the opening statement in a two year long journey that consisted of me doing everything you weren’t suppose to do.
Don’t nurse to sleep?
Don’t nurse to sleep they say. Ummm… then what do you do when they fall asleep while nursing? Wake them up? Are you insane? Do you have any idea how tired I am.
Eat, play, sleep, they say. What kind of baby did these people have? Is it magic because we got the order messed up on day one and mine decided he liked it in his order, eat, sleep, play. That’s what stuck, I am not sure how one “unsticks” that. But we grew pretty attached to it.
Lay them down drowsy and awake and let them drift off to peaceful sleep land without you holding them. Hahahaha okay, wait. I am still laughing at that. Lay them down. That is hilarious. How? Drowsy and awake…are you mad. We have two options: awake awake awake and sleep sleep sleep.
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What about a middle ground?
There is no middle ground here. Drift off to peaceful sleep land…yes let’s talk about drifting off…until the age of 16 months, my son didn’t drift off to anywhere. He clung to me like I was his life boat in the middle of a raging hurricane. And I don’t care how long you say it take for a baby to hit rem sleep, when you are the life boat in a hurricane, REM sleep lasts only as long as you stay in the darn life boat!
Don’t rock them, they say….seriously, don’t hold them, don’t rock them, whats next don’t sing to them? Oh yeah, wait you did say that too. Then honestly, I don’t know what to do. That’s like putting a donut in front of me and saying don’t eat it. You might like it and then will always eat it. Very true, but you and I both know I am going to eat the donut and I am going to rock my baby. It is seriously in my DNA.
And my favorite, don’t co-sleep. Yes, yes I know all the dangers and your right, don’t drink the bottle of wine and co sleep with your kid. Definitely don’t smoke up and then think this is going to turn out well for everyone. Don’t co-sleep if you don’t nurse.
Finally, don’t co-sleep if you like tall beds, pillows or blankets. There are rules, and follow them, don’t be stupid. But somewhere around 4-6 months, if you have broken all the other above rules, you will end up like 2/3rd of all parents who do co-sleep.
Why? Because they are tired. Because the baby curls up next to you in your arms and sleeps for hours and by 7 months is helping him/herself to a late night snack while you peacefully rest (notice I didn’t say REM sleep) through it.
There is hope for new moms
So here is the hope I will pass on to all the other sleep deprived moms out there. After deciding my son was scared of the dark, breaking every sleep rule one can make and ending up sharing a bed with my toddler son while my husband slept in the guest room.
I can honestly say, I have transitioned my son without tears to independently sleeping through the night in his own room.
How, you may ask?
Well, I will be honest, it was simple just not easy. I ignored all the rules and met my sons needs in the way they needed met for as long as they needed met and when he was ready.
That meant he nursed until 15.5 months. Not six or 12 or 24. When he was done, I let him be done. I didn’t force him to continue for my own purposes, nor did I push him to soon. When he started laying in his bed I let him sleep there. Despite, how it made me feel to lose my baby to a big boy bed.
In conclusion, I will tell you mammas, child led learning and weaning does work. It isn’t always easy and it isn’t always fun and may times everyone will tell you, your doing it wrong. But honestly, you know your child best, you got this.