It’s 8:40pm. and I’m sitting in bed. My baby has already woken up once since being put down ‘for the night’ at 7pm.
When I was pregnant, I would listen to the advice people would give me and think to myself “I’ll be fine, I’ve read so many articles about sleep – I’m an expert! My baby will sleep perfectly.” Boy was I wrong.
Since having William I have read through thousands of comments in Facebook groups and forums, read sleep books and sleep training programs but I’m torn.
Half of the things I read say to put your baby down awake, but drowsy. But, if I do that, he will immediately start crying at the top of his lungs. The other half say that if you let your baby cry, they will give up any hope that somebody is coming, and stop crying eventually. So I pick him up when he cries. I personally don’t have anything against the CIO methods, I am just not in a place where I am ready to do it nor do I think it would work for my baby; at least at this stage in his life.
Right now what works for us is breastfeeding to sleep. Some of the forums I am part of say that this is natural and perfectly normal. But still, I question myself daily as to whether I am ‘ruining’ my baby.
At about 3 months old, William started sleeping 3 hour stretches when I would first put him down in his bassinet. Around 3.5 months, I was regularly getting 3-5 hours! It was nice knowing that I could get a few things done around the house and still get to bed for a couple hours before he woke up! Then 4 months hit. Now he is waking almost every hour (sometimes earlier, SOMETIMES he will go 2 hours). The only way he will go back to sleep is to nurse. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the cuddles, but I am exhausted. I will usually just bring him into bed with me around midnight and nurse him while laying on my side so I can fall back to sleep. I have always been a light sleeper – I wake at every little movement, making me less anxious about having him in bed with me.
Again, the forums/books I’ve read are running through my head making me wonder if I am ruining my baby by letting him sleep with me every night, rather than letting him cry and learn to self soothe in his own space. Then in the next scroll, I’ll see a post saying that babies need to be close in their first years of life and giving them what they need now will set them up for success in the future.
I have so much guilt on a daily basis. Guilt that I am giving him too much attention. Guilt if I let him cry for a couple of minutes so I can use the bathroom or get something to eat. Guilt that we don’t get out of the house often enough. Guilt that when I do take him out he screams the entire car ride. Guilt that the house is a mess and dinner isn’t made.
Being a mom is the hardest job in the world. You are on call 24 hours a day/7 days a week. It can be so lonely, even though you are with another little person all day long. You are sleep deprived and yet still need to keep it together. And having a baby who doesn’t like to be put down is exhausting. By the time my husband gets home, all I want is 5 minutes to myself. (And when I get those 5 minutes, I miss him – ha! Motherhood is weird.)
But, being a mom is also the best, most rewarding job I have ever and will ever have. I love my sweet boy with all my heart and wouldn’t trade these last 19 weeks for anything else. When I’m struggling, I take a breath, and remind myself that he is just a baby and if he’s crying, it’s for a reason. Maybe he’s cold, or scared, or just wants to be cuddled. I will forever do everything in my power to make him feel warm, safe and loved. And when 2am hits and he’s woken up for [what feels like] the 700th time, I will snuggle him, tell him that I love him, and nurse him back to sleep, because in this moment, that is what he needs.
If you are a new mom, and are struggling, please reach out and know that you are not alone. It will get better. And keep reminding yourself that they will only be little for a very short time.