Every parent of a newborn will tend to remember sleep in a rather fond manner, much like you reminisce about your childhood.
“Remember those days when we slept in till noon?” you sigh.
I did too.
If you have been reading my blog, you will know just how much I struggled with sleep, or the lack of. When A was a newborn, we were fighting against naps. He was marvellous at night, only waking up for feeds. And even then, the length of night sleep slowly increased from three to four then five, and sometimes even six hours. His day naps were atrocious though, lasting merely 10 or 20 minutes. I hardly had time to eat or shower or do the chores, and the only time we could both rest was when he was sleeping on my chest.
I didn’t know then what I know now: that many, many babies nap for so short a time. Yes, the experts will tell you that anything less than 45 minutes is not considered a good sleep but realistically, that may not happen. Some babies are just not wired to nap well, until they hit five or six months.
That’s what happened with A. His naps only consolidated neatly into a pattern when he hit six months. Oh I blamed myself, initially, thinking that I must have done something wrong. But even when he fell into a proper routine after I went back to work after four months, his naps were still erratic and short. On the days that he slept for longer than 45 minutes, my mother and I would exchange verbal fist bumps.
And then it switched. As his day naps regulated, his night sleep went to the pits. After our holiday to Sydney, his sleep went from bad to worse. From waking up once and being able to go back to sleep easily with Mr Thick’s minimal intervention, it escalated into pure madness. Some nights, he would wake up every hour, crying non-stop. We eventually caved and ended up co-sleeping partially, because nursing was the only way we could calm him down.
It became something of a yoyo. If he woke up twice, it was a good night. Otherwise, come morning, Mr Thick would wake up to a grumpy wife who slammed the bathroom door because she was so damn frustrated and tired. Nothing was constant, we could never pinpoint his bad sleep to anything.
And now, at 16 months, his sleep has somewhat improved. We had nights when he slept through, and didn’t need us to help put him back to sleep when he woke. Then there is last night, when he bizarrely woke up a gazillion times between midnight to 130am and finally ended up sleeping between us. (I blame teething! He’s cutting two teeth and a whole bunch of molars are looming at the back.)
We could have sleep trained earlier, and the thought did enter my mind. But after our experience with night weaning (that deserves a post on its own), we realised that sleep training would have been futile anyway. He is just too stubborn and can cry the house down the entire night. It wouldn’t have worked with us.
I used to think that it was my fault, that I didn’t do enough to help him sleep better. That I must have done something wrong. But now, I have realised that sleep is something that is inherent in many babies. They just sleep the way they do. Babies don’t sleep well because their parents did something right, and babies don’t sleep poorly because their parents screwed up somewhere.
They just sleep the way they do.
So if you are reading this and you have a little one who isn’t sleeping through the night, have heart. It will come eventually and it is NOT your fault.
(And if you are someone whose babies slept through the night early on, I HATE YOU. No, really. Boo.)