I think I just need to accept the fact that I will most likely never sleep again. I have a 2.8 year old and a 10 month old so I’m currently living in the battlefield of parenthood; aka terrible two’s and sleep regression. Sometimes I feel like I have twins, especially when it comes to bed time. My husband is a firefighter so he works 1 day and is off two days. He also takes classes on Monday nights so I do bedtime solo and I get major anxiety over it; not in a dreaded kind of way, but a nervous, what if they wake up every hour, how do I manage both awake kind of way.
Juliana was never a good sleeper…from birth she struggled. She was never a fussy or colicky baby, but she loved the boob and she hated sleeping at night. Sometimes I actually think breastfeeding moms have it more difficult because the babies become SO obsessed with our scent and our boobs that they can’t sleep without it. I know if you are reading this, you probably encountered this as well. Newborns like to sleep all day and they are up all night. But one thing I learned is that babies are so up and down with schedules that when they sleep through the night a few times, you celebrate it, but just know they most likely won’t sleep through the night every night. You can’t really have a schedule with babies no matter how much you try or pin ideas. I’m not trying to be negative, just realistic. It will never be a set schedule with babies and that’s okay, just hard to manage it as a parent. From birth, Juliana slept in a bassinet in our bed. Yup, bad parenting I know, but it worked at the time. She slept in one of those pack n play bassinets in the middle of both of us. I missed her too much when she was in the pack n play at the foot of our bed…oh first time parenting is so cute. Around 6 months, we started doing naps in her crib or in the pack n play because she was napping in the pack n play at daycare and doing great. Of course when you’re the mom and they want to sleep on you all day long, you savor it and let them nurse themselves to sleep while you take selfies…which then leads to them sleeping on you or in your armpit all night long. Then you feel trapped because you never have time with your husband or for yourself. With her ear infections being so chronic (10-11 ear infections before 1) and the massive amount of teething (She had 6 teeth at 8 months old) and her being on so many antibiotics, I couldn’t imagine her crying it out in her little crib in her own room all night. I wanted to nurse her to sleep because it was easy for all of us and she was immediately comforted. I always go back on that fourth trimester thing. Our babies are nestled in our wombs for 9 months and the real world is so unnatural to them so making it as comfortable as I could felt like the only thing I could do for her.
She finally got tubes in her ears at 13 months old and it was the best decision we ever made. The ear infections were gone, but the teething was ramped up. I will say, she was sleeping better than before, but nowhere near through the night. I would still nurse her to sleep here and there, but pretty much weaned nursing during the day around 12-13 months because she loved organic whole milk. Once she fell asleep, she would wake up and tantrum until she would puke at 3am and this would last until 5 or 6am. Eventually she didn’t even want to nurse and she never took a pacifier. I would read books, join mommy blogs, ask friends for advice, talked to our pediatrician, and even consulted a sleep specialist. Most of the medical professionals recommended Ferber Method/Cry it out/CIO, but my husband and I couldn’t bear the thought of this. We slept on the floor in her room, rocked her until we both fell asleep in the chair, put her in the pack n play next to our bed, tried diffusers, white noise machines, lullabies, baths, warm milk, and I even went in the crib with her. Ironically, she wouldn’t even sleep in our bed with us at this age because it was either a game or she was too restless. Around 14-15 months months it was time. I just found out I was pregnant with my second baby so we had to figure something out. I was panicking because I felt like nothing was working and we were all going crazy.
I couldn’t do the whole 10 minutes in, 10 minutes out, tell them they are okay, but don’t take them out of the crib thing. If you google sleep training or read up on well known sleep books, there are exact processes on how to do cry it out or do something similar with less tears. No no no, just do it cold turkey because with her strong-willed personality you can’t keep going in there. One night I decided to commit myself 110% with my 2 glasses of wine and headphones and went into the basement with the video monitor while my heart broke into a million pieces. She cried for an hour. and. 43. freaking. minutes. STRAIGHT. Howie was at work and I probably shouldn’t have decided to do our first night of CIO when he was gone, but it was actually better this way or daddy might have caved. I almost did every minute that went by. My poor baby needed me and was inconsolable, screaming, crying, spitting, a complete mess. A few times she actually made herself puke. I was convinced this was actual torture for us both. But I stuck with it. The next night, she cried for 37 minutes. Yes, I wrote all of this down. The third night she cried for 12 minutes. The fourth night she cried for 4 minutes. The fifth night she cried for 26 minutes. The sixth night, she fussed for a few minutes and was out like a light.
She slept through the night for a month and then would settle on her own and wake up in the middle of the night continuously. Nightmares? Night terrors? At this point I was already done nursing and I would never introduce milk at night because I didn’t want it to become a habit. So I decided to let her cry it out at night too. It was absolute torture, but after a few days, she did it! She has her setbacks here and there, especially right after Hudson was born, but now we know what works. Sometimes we get sucked into and want to rock her all night or I will cuddle in the crib with her.
She is now 2.8 years old and sleeps almost 11-12 hours a night! She has been having some severe nightmares about spiders and roosters in her bed that are almost like night terrors and there are nights where she is inconsolable, screaming, trying to puke, and trying to climb out of her crib. And when Howie isn’t home, I’m done. I might sleep for 1-2 hours total because I’m bouncing back between both kids. If both kids would sleep in my king size bed with me and not fall out and actually sleep, I would do it, but that isn’t the case. Juliana LOVES her crib, loves her diffuser night light and her star light night light. She reads and sings herself to sleep and even though she is the master at stalling, she is a good sleeper at night. Naps are a different story haha.
By the way…teething babies?? Nursing?? Freeze some breastmilk pops! Works wonders. Also don’t be afraid to give them Tylenol or Motrin before bed.
Hudson, on the other hand, is 10 months old and we had him sleeping in the rock n play until about 7 months old. He slept through the night from day one. He woke up a few times at the hospital when he was born, but at home, he slept through the night in the rock n play from about 8pm-7am, not waking up once to eat. I pumped enough stash to feed a country. I actually had to invest in a deep freezer just to store it.
People will argue that the rock n play is the worst thing for your baby because they get used to it and they shouldn’t sleep in it because it’s dangerous. But it worked for us at the time. We also moved the crib into the our room next to my bed because I didn’t want to keep getting up to nurse him and since he’s my last baby, I secretly want to nurse him forever. Around 8 months, he started major sleep regression. He got his first tooth at this age and it ripped through his poor little gums. Then when he was 8 months old, he needed surgery down yonder and was on pain killers for a day. This broke my heart, but he slept and slept and slept. He healed nicely and the sleep regression seemed to just be our new way of life. I was so tired that it was easy to nurse him in bed. Here we go again, but this little mush actually wants to sleep next to my body whenever he’s in distress- and surgeries and teething can cause major setbacks. It’s not exactly comfortable when he’s in my armpit attached to my nipple at night because I want to hug a pillow and sleeeeeeeeep. I will say he is in the crib every night, but needs to be nursed to sleep. Right now, I’m just embracing the chaos of motherhood and instead of being nervous that he will be in my bed forever, I am just nursing him, then putting him back in the crib about 5x a night and if I fall asleep with him, oh well. We both sleep better.
I personally, NOT giving advice, don’t want to do cry it out just yet for him. I’m in that weird funky place where I don’t want another baby because I feel complete and since he is my last baby, I never want to stop nursing or feeling bad that I am nursing him to sleep. What sucks though is when Hudson is nursing or dream feeding when Jules is screaming her head off in her crib and I can’t get up or Hudson will wake up and fall out of the bed. When this happens I usually put him in the crib while he accidentally hits his head on the crib crying because he’s so mobile now. AHHHH!! This really might be hell when they are both screaming at 3am and you wanna cuddle them both, but also run away and sleep in a king size bed in a hotel room far away… alone…. for a few days… with a hot tub, wine and all you can eat chocolate.
For now, I am accepting this because what else can I do? Both are kids are healthy and sleeping, broken or not. Both kids are happy and safe. I will continue to have my little tantrums at 3am and cry. I even yelled at Jules really loud and then cried because I felt bad. I’m lucky I can somewhat function on little and broken sleep. I am usually up every hour mostly for Hudson, but there has been a lot times that he has slept through the night. He did last night! But that usually means he won’t tonight. I am a crazy person at night and I usually can’t rationalize anything, but in the morning I can usually reflect the bigger picture and am embrace the chaos. I know this won’t last forever. I know they won’t always need me. I know they won’t always want me. I know Juliana won’t always want to read and play with my hair every night. I know Hudson won’t want to cuddle with me every night.
Take the crazy with the good. Embrace this part of parenting. Just breathe mama, we got this. We will sleep someday.