Thursday, September 19, 2019

Adventures in Sleep Training

If you have read my blog you will know I make children that don't sleep. I have a few rare friends whose kids were sleeping through the night by 2 months. Taking a very nonacademic statistical analysis of half my friends shows that most kids sleep all night by eight months, with a few stragglers around 12-13 months old.

Becky is 20 months old. Reuben himself slept through the night around 2.3 years old when we night weaned, but I thought he was the anomaly because of his horrible allergies. (He also regressed to no longer sleeping through the night when Becky was born for twoish months so that was, as you can guess, just wonderful)

Most people who I tell of my sleepless woes seem to blame my parenting. But I know several moms who do almost the same thing I do--(by this I mean attachment parent and bed share) so please don't blame my parenting style for the no-sleep offspring problem. I had another friend tell me my kids don't sleep because I nurse; like breast milk is keeping my baby awake. I had make a visible effort not to roll my eyes at that one. 

Anyway, everyone thinks they have the answers for me. But the thing is each child is different. Doctors say sleep is developmental like walking and talking. Each kid hits this milestone at a different time when they and their bodies are ready. I can create nice sleep-inducing environments with blackout curtains and white noise machines and wear out the children with various outside activities, but I simply can't make a child sleep.  

I've learned to let go of my sleep expectations. I have come to an understanding that if my kid sleeps, great, and if not--I can be okay too. My child's lack of sleep does not mean I am a bad parent. I can let go of my feelings of frustration and shame that I can't get my child to sleep. If someone else's child is sleeping though the night it does not mean they are a better parent than I, just like when another's baby walks sooner or talks sooner. It's just developmental. I also had to learn to lower my expectations and my ability levels when I have not slept well a few nights in a row. I stay home. I cook easy meals like tuna and peanut butter and jelly. We do more television time. It was hard for me to learn to take it easy when I have not slept--I am a type A machine sometimes and can feel a lot of guilt and stress over "letting things go". I'm learning that I need to rest first, and worry about cleaning and cooking second on days I am tired.

Conversely, I am of the mind that babies sometimes need to be taught to sleep through the night. Sometimes they just are not learning it on their own and need some nudging. At 20 weeks I tried sleep training Becky by night weaning her, but I woke up at least every 45 minutes for about three days and that was not sustainable. I couldn't function, I was having anxiety and depression. I knew I needed sleep and thus, after a week's break, my husband took over training Becky while I slept on the couch. It took me one week to learn to sleep all the way through the night by myself again, after 21 months of waking up at least 3-5 times a night. 

Also, holy engorgement. I've had two plugged ducts due to night weaning.

But I finally feel human again! It took Becky seven days to learn to sleep through the night. The first time she did it was last night and unfortunately my husband and I did not get to enjoy deep sleep ourselves, because hubby has food poisoning and I was up helping him, or being woke by him. Poor husband. Now both of us are tired with hyper, well-slept children.

I am praying that Becky continues to sleep through the night and that my husband and I both can rest, too. The sleep adventures of raising small children are definitely some of the most difficult times I have encountered in this parenting journey. Through it all God has taught and stretched me like no other. He is good, and my blessings still abound even in this tired season.

So, when did your kids sleep through the night?