When I think back to when August was born, we didn’t have a parenting agenda. There was no particular path we knew we were going to follow. We knew nothing.
What I found quickly was I hated hearing him cry. It made me cringe. After a small amount of reading in the newborn stage of his life, I discovered that (and maybe this should have been common knowledge) when he cried he NEEDED something. Food, diaper change, or maybe just some comfort and love from us. Newborns do not just ‘cry for no reason’, ever. There is a reason. It’s our jobs to figure out what that reason is.
From his first night out of the womb until we left the hospital he slept on my chest, or in the cold, plastic bassinet type thing they provide you for..but right next to my bed and the fold out chair Josiah slept in. (The first night was purely on me…I had no idea why, but letting him lay down anywhere other than on me just seemed wrong.)
After we got home (three days after he was born..bllaaaghhhh) we had a pack and play and a crib set up for him.
That whole time is much more hazy than I wish it was, but I’m sure we didn’t use them much. He basically slept in this co sleeper for the first four weeks of his life.
I liked it. It was very helpful in helping me feel secure about him (sooooo tiny..6 pounds 13 ounces at birth, 10 pounds at a month) being in our bed.
So I am well aware that sharing a sleep space with your baby can be dangerous… But when it is done properly it can be very beneficial.
We visited Michigan for my grandpas 80th birthday party when August was 5, 6 weeks old. That was the beginning of me feeling comfortable with him sleeping next to us. That as the first time I nursed him laying down. (For everyone that hasn’t made the connection, that means until then I was sitting up to nurse him all night long any time he needed to nurse. I’m tired thinking about it..)
Fast forward to six months old, that’s when he started waking at night to nurse via screaming. Nursing calmed him immediately. So, that’s just what I did. Until he was 16 months old.
We tried so many things. I read The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley, which helped me realize what my kid was doing was normal, and there were very much things we could do to help guide him (without crying by himself) to sleep longer stretches. (He was, on average, waking 6-8 times night easily.)
The book that REALLY put me at ease though was The Baby Sleep Book by Dr. Sears.
He really explains WHY babies wake at night. What is happening with their brains and their bodies. Explaining that babies don’t have the skill to just stay asleep when they come back to their lighter stage of sleep. Why this skill doesn’t just “need to be taught” before things become a “bad habit”.
What it really made me realize, even though waking many times a night started to take a toll on me, that I should adjust my outlook…not just try to change what my child cannot control yet.
So I started viewing his wakings as “what he needed to grow and develop”.
I told myself that giving him snuggles, love and nursing would not ever, ever become a bad habit.
We chose this path to offer love, support and our trust so he can grow to become independent on his own schedule. We really did not want to force independence on him by us abandoning him in his most vulnerable moments.
Side thought, I know many parents do things differently…and had I needed to go back to work I don’t know what we would be doing today. But, I don’t have to work outside the home…so, I told myself that this is my job. Pouring all my energy and thoughts into August. That’s why I can make these statements confidently…had I done anything less than what we did, I would have viewed it as failing on my part.
After we moved into our new house, we officially gave August his own room and a full size bed on the ground. We thought maybe being in his own space would help him sleep…maybe we were disturbing him at nighttime? He mostly slept in our bed still.
Around 16 months we started doing a night time method I heard about through a Facebook group I’m in. Dr. Jay Gordon has this night time weaning method. Even though night time weaning wasn’t my goal, I really just wanted to sleep longer periods, this seemed to make the most sense to Me and Josiah. This “method” requires adjusting what you do three days at a time. A slow change. It was awesome, August was doing everything this man said he would. (Josiah was the one doing most the work at this point….August was NOT willing to be comforted by the woman with nursing powers.) Then about 3 weeks after starting it, Josiah went on a business trip and August and I were back to where we started. Then we sort of fell off the boat with consistency.
Just after the holidays passed, after attempts of being more consistent with out actions, August started sleeping longer. 9 pm-2 am. It was a miracle. SLEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPP! This went on for a month. Josiah was able to go in and get August back to sleep no problem. He would wake again at 5 ish and come in bed with us and nurse, go back to sleep until 7 ish.
Then we got sick. Boo. All bets are off when we’re sick. We all cuddle and do our best to get better. In the rebound of feeling better, but not 100%, August started sleeping even longer stretches. I mean…8 pm-3,4 am. Wow. We didn’t want to talk about it out loud incase…I don’t even know what…but, I didn’t want to mess it up.
So. We’ve made it. August sleeps from bed time (which can be anywhere from 7:30 to 9) until 5 am. Solid. Occasionally wakes around 1:30, and can be helped back to sleep with a little back rub still laying on his bed. He sometimes goes back to sleep after that 5 am wake up….sometimes not. I don’t care, though. It’s amazing what my body can do when I’ve had more than hour and half stretch of sleep.
Josiah and I have guided our kid to sleep well without ever crying by himself. Even though we had very frustrating moments we never have to look back and be disappointed about giving him too much love.
Parents say to not get too used to one thing your kid does because its probably about to change…and I’ve done a really good job embracing that, but this is just too awesome to not congratulate ourselves. And sleep.
Their time being small isn’t that large, and in the grand scheme of how long a life could be…August isn’t even two. Two years old.
I’m so proud of us sometimes. (Well, most of the time…)