Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sleep strikes and other such disasters...

When I was about 9.1 months pregnant and my best friend, Lara sat across from me in my living room and we were talking baby talk (her daughter is now 11), I suddenly sat up and asked;

"When should I expect BeaWally (Walter's name in utero since we were waiting to find out the gender when he was born-- Beatrice, if a girl and Walter, if a boy) to sleep through the night again?"

I can't even remember what I was expecting the answer to be,  but the answer I got was certianly not it, but what I needed or wanted to hear.

Lara got very serious and said "Don't expect to consistently sleep through the night until BeaWally  is in kindergarten."

"What?!" I asked incrediously.

"I don't mean that they won't sleep through the night before hand, they will it just won't be consistent. They don't sleep because they are working on a new skill, they don't sleep because their teeth bother them, they don't sleep because they are sick, they don't go to sleep because they know that it bothers you. There are a million reasons why they don't sleep, but they don't and if you expect them to you will just be setting yourself up for hard times."  In short I could expect to sleep very little in the next 5 years.

My head started spinning. Surely Lara's daughter was some sort of outlier.  Surely I wasn't going to be sleep deprived for 5 years? And more importantly why, oh why, had no one told me about this before?

Now in the almost two years that have come since that conversation I am happy to say Walter has slept through the night. Though not consistently. He will always go to sleep but then around 1 is when he likes to wake up. He is a huge night waker, especially when he is working on mastering a new skill or teething. There was a string of one nighters every 4 weeks until he was about 8 months old where he stayed awake for 24 hours straight. That was crazy. No one, not even his doctors could figure out a reason for it. And then just like that he stopped.

There are people who suggest sleep training. Which is an option. But we haven't tried any sleep training for two reasons. First reason, to me (and this is only to me) the amount of time and energy it takes to sleep train isn't worth it. Because once they get sick, start working on mastering a new skill, the routine is altered in any little way, all that sleep training is out the window and you have to start at the beginning. Second reason, is I am a freak. I don't need a lot of sleep to function and while I do complain about not getting sleep when its bad, I would rather not sleep than train Walter and have to listen to him cry-it-out. I can't stand to hear him cry. So I sacrifice the sleep, and I am okay with that.

So when there are nights like last night where I didn't get to sleep until a little past 4am because my darling boy was teething so bad he whimpered "mom, mom, mom, mom" for 5 hours straight, I console myself with the fact that this will all soon end when he goes to kindergarten. Three years isn't that far away is it?

Now I do realize that what I have just written is a huge generalization. Some babies sleep through the night almost immediately. Some babies take to sleep training like a champ. But not all and I am writing this to those that, like me, whose children don't sleep through the night consistently and can't/won't sleep train. You are not alone.

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