Nighttime Parenting

9 Dec

I started to write this blog as sleep has evaded me for several nights in a row.  I’m not sick.  I don’t have insomnia.  I have a baby.  What is that old saying, “sleep like a baby”?!!  I don’t know about anyone else, but none of my kids have been good sleepers from the get go.  I don’t want to “sleep like [my] baby,” he’s completely restless, kicks all night, and wakes frequently to nurse!

Lack of sleep can make you do very strange things; crazy even.  I walk into a room and stand there, staring at a fixed object, knowing I had a purpose for entering, I just….can’t…figure…..out…..what….it….was!!  I go through my day in a hypnotic state.  Don’t even ask me to remember a date, not a birthday, not an anniversary!  My short term memory is a thing of the past! (I am SO glad I went straight to graduate school after college, I joke that I might not even be able to attain a Master’s Degree again at this point!)

I thought that bed sharing would be a great solution, but it hasn’t been for me.  My husband can’t sleep with a baby in the bed.  He says the baby snores too loudly and is too restless.  So, when I share a bed with the baby, we all play musical beds.  The girls bunk up, my husband is alone in our bed, and the baby and I share one of my daughter’s beds. (And this is only the most recent compromise….I’ve been all over the place, my daughter’s bottom bunk, a mattress on the floor in the baby’s room).

I find that for me, there have been several positive things about bed sharing.  I get to sleep (even if in short little spurts), when I otherwise wouldn’t.  When the baby is sick, cutting a tooth, or growing, I can nurse every thirty minutes if needed and not have to get up.  The downside for me has been the baby’s restless nature.  He wakes frequently, although does not always want to nurse.  He goes right back to sleep, but I am left lying awake for hours.  He kicks and flails his arms.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve woken in the wee hours of the night after receiving a sucker punch to the face! Talk about a rude awakening!

So, back to the crib the baby goes.  I recently had a visit with the pediatrician who advised the two main ways to get baby into the crib: something similar to the No Cry Sleep Solutions, in which the parent makes sure the baby is fed and not in need of anything, then touches the baby in the crib.  Day by day, the parent gets farther and farther away from the baby, and then eventually moves out the door.  The second way is the Ferber Method (invented by Dr. Richard Ferber) which in a nutshell is allowing the baby to self soothe by crying him/herself to sleep.

I literally get negative physical symptoms when my baby cries and therefore cannot even think about attempting the Ferber Method.  So, we’re in the midst of the other.  So far, with the support of my husband, it has not been too bad.  The first night we tried, my husband and I stood in front of the crib and patted the baby; we just didn’t pick him up.  He fussed, but didn’t cry.  He did wake up every thirty minutes to an hour though.  By two in the morning I was begging my husband to just let me bring the baby into our bed.  Fortunately, my husband was solid and encouraged me, and after the disagreement I relented and we continued on our mission.

Each night it has gotten a little easier and we are all sleeping a little better (I think).  It’s bittersweet.  While I’m sad I don’t have my little snuggle bug to cuddle with all night, the fact that I am getting a few hours of sleep consecutive is making me a better mother to all of my children during the day!  My husband is happy.  I am happy.  And the baby is perfectly fine and happy too!  The fog in my head is beginning to clear.

The baby still gets up to nurse during the night, just not as often.  I continue to enjoy that special time with him, and we get plenty of snuggles in!  He has more space to toss, turn, and stretch out as he needs to.  Nighttime parenting can easily be more difficult than daytime parenting.  I’m just glad I have the support I needed in the form of other mothers who nurse their babies and have gone through similar struggles (La Leche League meetings or playgroups are a great way to meet some of these moms) a pediatrician who reminded me that choosing to sleep separate from my baby does not make me a bad mother, and a husband who can tolerate me even in the early morning hours, when I’ve had no sleep, and become completely maniacal!

For more on the No Cry Sleep Solution, please see: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth/books/0071381392.php

I find that Dr. Sears has a lot of helpful information about nighttime parenting issues on his website too: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T070100.asp

And La Leche League has a wealth of information on the subject as well: http://www.llli.org/NB/NBsleep.html

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: