Thursday, September 3, 2015
Why You No Sleep?
This a phrase I have asked my baby many, many times. The age old parenting dilemma: getting your child into a regular sleep pattern. Experiencing sleep deprivation was my biggest fear all through out my pregnancy. It may seem trivial, but I LOVE sleep. I went to bed every night at 10:30 pm or 11:00 pm...in college. I have never pulled an all-nighter. I try for a regular 8-9 hours every single night. To say sleep is important to me is a extreme understatement. I hate how I feel and act when I go without asleep. I am sluggish, grouchy, and I can be snappy and rude. So getting this little guy on somewhat of a regular routine was high on my priority list from the get go.
Thankfully, God in His great mercy has been especially kind. I honestly think He is the one who fueled me during those 3 am feedings. He has also blessed us with a pretty easy-going baby. I cannot take credit for any of this little guy's disposition.
All that said, I really do believe that creating a pretty regular pattern has been beneficial for both myself and baby. I am not an expert in this by any stretch of the imagination. This is my first baby, so I am just working with the knowledge I have gleaned from the Internet and my mom and mother in-law. This is what has worked for us and I hope that if you are a mom reading this, it can help you as well.
1. Be calm.
Babies can feel your stress. You can feel your stress. When you feel that that stress bubbling up inside, like a geyser getting ready to explode, stop. Take some deep breaths, say a prayer, lay it at the feet of Jesus, and take it one step at a time. One way that helps me not to get too overwhelmed is to approach the sleep situation like an experiment. If my hypothesis A fell through, where did it go wrong? What should I change for next time? What is the new hypothesis for getting the best sleep?That may seems harsh or clinical, but it allows me to not let my emotions run over me. I have to be ok with getting it wrong, because in reality, I am going to get it wrong a lot. I can only do my best.
2. Be quick to ask advice.
When I was trying to figure out how to get baby to sleep in those first days, the first person I turned to was my mom. Not the Internet, not books, not an app but my mom. She has 5 kids and we all are fairly well-adjusted human beings, so her credentials seem pretty solid. If you do not have a mature, experienced person in your life, find one. Life is too hard to go at it alone. That is coming from someone who is fiercely independent and proud to a fault. Ask for help. Many new moms crater because they shut themselves off in those first days. You are experiencing crazy hormonal imbalances and probably some exhaustion. Talk to someone you trust. You do not have to do this alone.
3. Be ok with crying.
Sadly, babies cry. They cry a lot. Do not let it get to you. You are not a bad mom if your baby cries. The poor little things are being flooded with stimuli. This world is hard for them. They are going to cry, especially when you are trying to get them to sleep. I bawled when we put our little guy in his crib. He screamed and screamed but I knew he was exhausted and needed to sleep. He had barely slept that second night in the hospital. I knew that he needed to sleep and I knew that it would be best for him to sleep in his crib. I laid on the couch and cried while he cried. It worked though. He fell asleep and has been sleeping in his crib ever since.
4. Be diligent to the routine that you establish
This is especially hard for me. I crave routine and structure but I have a hard time telling people no. When it comes to getting your baby on a sleep routine, you are going to have to say no to people. Nap times and bed times are not going to magically coincide with other peoples' schedules. Especially as the baby gets older and more manageable, it seem like the schedule is not as important. It still is incredibly vital. The key getting baby into a solid schedule is to establish fixed points the day. Right now, I am trying to establish a set wake time and bed time for our 3 month old. The goal is not only to give baby a fixed point a reference, but to help you better schedule your day.
5. Be ready for change.
The most frustrating part of this sleep scheduling journey has been the regression. Our little guy has been sleeping for 9-10 hour stretches for several weeks now but all of a sudden, he wants to wake up at 5 am. I do not want to wake up at 5 am. There is nothing I want less in the world. It is incredibly frustrating. I know that with time and patience, we will get through this spell but it is hard to look at it that way when I am are stumbling blindly through the house to try to console the baby back to sleep. It is best to be prepared for the inevitable hiccup. It keeps me from getting complacent. It also stresses the point about remaining diligent to the routine. Keep working at it till something works.
Ok, now that I am done ranting (did it seem like I was ranting, I don't mean to come across that way), what do you think?
I want to stress again that I am not an expert. I know that different people will have different views. This is simply my take on the situation and a few things that I have learned so far. If anyone has any great insights, I would love to hear them!