When my oldest was a baby, I think I read every book on the market about sleep. I am certain I lost sleep worrying about losing sleep. You just can’t be sure of the impact of sleepless nights until you have a few sleepless nights with a newborn. No one can prepare you for that. It’s can make you a wee bit crazy.
I found some great books back then. I particularly loved Elizabeth Pantley’s The No Cry Sleep Solution because it seemed the most balanced. Because of the books, my oldest had a set of routines that we carried out no matter where she was. We patted ourselves on the back for this because she would sleep anywhere and she transitioned from crib to bed seamlessly.
When my second came along, he slept eight hours from the moment he arrived home from the hospital. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration but he slept so well that we actually stayed awake waiting for him to wake up at first.Talk about smug. We didn’t give ourselves credit for him, but we did think we struck the motherlode of parenting. I know I took solace in the sleep being related to having such a huge, hungry baby. There had to be some benefit to that fifteen hour birth and endless feeding I was doing, right?
I’d hear stories of other people who couldn’t get their kids to sleep at night or who couldn’t get their kids to stay in bed or who couldn’t get their kids out of their own bed and I admit, I’d think in my head (never say out loud) there is always something they could be doing. Kids will sleep.
Then my third was born. (You can guess where this is going right?) He didn’t sleep for two years.
We did everything we did with our first. Then we did a whole bunch of new things. We fought and we cried and we threw up our hands in defeat. I repented for all those times I thought those other parents were doing something wrong because clearly they had just had demon babies like I did now.
Four years have passed and I can assure you that he is not a demon. (Most days.) But I will say he is completely different. They all are. We eventually figured out all different reasons for his sleep issues, but the bottom line is we had to figure it out because he didn’t fit into a mold that we read about in a book. He was his own man, from day one and we had to figure out what worked for him. We consulted books. We asked doctors. We pleaded with friends. We eventually pleaded with him! We brought in the strength of our village and mostly we paid attention to our son and eventually cracked the code.
I’m not telling you all this because I want you to think you’ll never sleep again. I’m telling you this because I feel strongly about letting parents know that while all the experts clearly have something to offer, it’s possible what they say isn’t going to work for your kid no matter how hard you try. You aren’t doing it wrong. You aren’t bad at this. Your kid just needs you to focus more on them and not the experts. Then, I’m certain you’ll know what’s best to do because you are the only expert your baby needs.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.