When Aidan was born, I had a lot of ideas regarding sleep. Specifically, I had a lot of ideas regarding sleep based on parenting books.
He should go to sleep drowsy but awake. He should not be nursed to sleep. He should nap x hours a day. He should go to bed by 730pm. He should have x hours of overnight sleep. He should not have bad sleep associations. He should learn to self-soothe. He should not co-sleep and learn to sleep by himself.
I tried, as much as I could, to foster these so-called “healthy sleep habits” in him. But no matter what I did, he just did not sleep through the night and ended up in our bed. Some nights were good, in that he only woke up twice. Some nights were plain awful and I was up every 90 minutes or so. Some mornings I would wake up in a foul mood, slamming doors and feeling like I wanted to run away and not be shackled to the sleep of my little one. There was also a nagging question of whether I had (or had not) done something to cause his bad sleep.
At almost three, he is still not sleeping through the night.
It took a while but eventually, we realised that he simply sleeps the way he does. No matter what we did – and we have tried it all, from night lights to white noise to loveys – he still slept the same. Nothing we did turned out to be the miracle cure, whether he slept by himself or with us.
In fact, I miss co-sleeping with him these days. Oh, I don’t miss being shoved to the very edge of my bed. And I certainly don’t miss his kungfu moves. But I miss his grubby little hands reaching out to check that I was still there. I miss his little body cuddling up to mine. I miss leaning down and sniffing at his head. And I miss waking up to his chattering. Back when he was a wee one, he would lie in bed and babble to himself while waiting for his parents to wake up early in the morning. And when he could speak words, the babble turned into semi-coherent monologues. Some mornings, I would even find him singing to himself. And when he realised that I was awake and quietly observing him, he would break out into the biggest grin and climb all over me.
So yes, I have so many sweet, sweet memories of co-sleeping with him. I do remember those nights of bad sleep too but the pain has more or less faded.
And then just like that, he started sleeping through the night, two weeks before Zac was born. One morning, I found Mr Thick still in bed with me (by then, he was going in to sleep with Aidan in his room whenever Aidan woke up). We looked at each other, wondering if the baby monitor had somehow malfunctioned and we hadn’t heard Aidan’s cries in the middle of the night.
It happened again the next night, and the next.
And that was how we knew that Aidan was capable of sleeping through.
Of course, the arrival of Zac and the start of daycare threw everything into disarray and any hopes of Aidan sleeping through the night went out of the window. These days, we divide and conquer: Zac sleeps with mama and Aidan sleeps with papa. It’s just what works best for our family for now and I figure that the boys are so little anyway, there really is nothing wrong in them wanting to sleep with mama or papa. So right now, I am enjoying my co-sleeping time with my chubby garden gnome of a baby.
I suspect my heart may break a little one day when the boys evict us from their beds!