Thursday, June 19, 2014
Why I'm Grateful My Infant Doesn't Sleep Through the Night
After I first learned that I was expecting again, memory after memory surfaced of sleepless nights. Night after night after night of waking up or of not even going to bed in the first place with my firstborn, Bri. And this went on for nine months. Nine months!
I'm not going to lie, I was miserable the first few months of Bri's life. My entire world was turned upside down and I feared I would never sleep again.
I didn't know if I could do it again. I'm a sleeper and I knew it could possibly be even more challenging this time around because after Bri was born and I went back to work, it was part-time. So, the days I didn't work, I spent taking naps with Bri when she did. But this time, I knew I'd be going back to work full-time. Full-time outside-of-the-home job + no sleep = scary times for me.
This was my biggest concern in having another child. So I consoled myself with the idea that maybe I would get a good sleeper this time, an early sleeper. Maybe I'd be diligent about following Baby Wise and I'd train Bri2 to sleep through the night at an earlier age.
But none of that happened. Landyn Avery was born and the first four weeks went by with her sleeping wherever I could get her to; in her bassinet, in my arms, in the bed beside me, on my chest, in a swing. Wherever. And when week five arrived, I borrowed Baby Wise from a friend and I attempted to follow it.
Landyn did the opposite of what I wanted her to do, no matter what it was. When the book said eat, she would fall asleep after only a few minutes. When it said have playful awake time, she would sleep. When it said it was time to sleep, she would be awake with no indication of sleep in sight.
And it depressed me. I got really DEPRESSED. Why couldn't I make this work? I had already failed at exclusively breastfeeding and now, I couldn't get my baby onto a schedule. What was wrong with me? My hormones raged and my confidence as a mother plummeted.
So I made a decision, a decision that went against what many experience mothers and books would advise. With only a few short weeks of maternity leave left, I decided to let Landyn do what she wanted: eat when she wanted to eat, be awake when she wanted to be awake, and sleep when she wanted to be asleep.
And I decided to not be quick to lay her down. I wanted to enjoy holding her and enjoy HER. She was a great newborn after all, calm and content from the moment she was born. She brought such sweet spirit into our home. Even her cry brought a smile to my face and I finally understood what people meant when they said it was cute when an infant cried. Her cry was cute. And I was ruining it -- the whole experience -- with my expectations and plans and wants.
So the last few weeks of being at home with her were filled with bending to her whim. This meant few errands were run and lots of naps were taken. The floors remained unvacuumed and the showers unscrubbed. Dinners became a nightly fend-for-yourself event.
My confidence as a mother grew and I reveled in each day as if it were our last. Because in a way, it was. Each new day would never be like the day before. Each day brought new developmental milestones and moments that I would never get back.
I spent the sleepless nights memorizing her features, running my hand over the fuzzy stubble of hair on the top of her head and across the fuzzy, soft tuft at the nape of her neck.
So, that brings me to today. Today, at 12-weeks post-partum, and Landyn is still waking up in the night. Sometimes only once, but other days up to three times in one night. She draws me out of bed, not with a cry but with a squeak and a grunt. I tiptoe into her room and find her chewing ferociously on her hands. She looks up at me with a smile.
I feed her and I rock her and I breathe her in; not just her scent, but her. I breathe in the moments we share together in the middle of the night. Uninterrupted by what-do-we-have-to-eats and mama-i-need-to-be-wiped.
And after I lay her back into her crib, before I know it, my alarm is going off and I'm getting dressed and tiptoeing down the stairs next to her room quietly so the tap-tap-tap of my heels doesn't wake her up. And I drive to work with a little pang of sadness of not being able to see her and hold her and kiss her, energizing me for the day like a morning coffee. But the sadness subsides with the sweet memory of the precious moments we shared in a quiet house, in a dimly lit room, in the middle of the night.