Hoping for a Gentle Way to Get Some Sleep
By Natalie Hewitt on November 21, 2013
This gorgeous November I have been a bit of a hermit because I have been sick and tired. For clarity, perhaps I should say “tired and sick”. (I’m actually not “sick and tired” in the way that we often use that phrase; as I feel very happy on this crisp, frosty morning!)
We’re tired because our sweet children (mostly the baby) seem hell-bent on killing us slowly through sleep deprivation, so that (presumably) they may more quickly inherit our life savings. Well, the joke’s on them because we no longer have any life savings! Ha! Take that- you expensive little humans!
We’re sick because those same lovely children get sick, and then smear their snotty fingers on our faces and in our eyes. Eleanor (10 months), especially, has a fondness for deliberately running her snotty fingers along the top row of my teeth- seemingly to make sure I ingest all of her available germs. (If she doesn’t feel like her smearing was thorough enough, Sam (2 yrs) will cough on my face for good measure.) And, we continue to be sick after many days because who can heal when they are in a constant state of exhaustion?
So, as I’ve been home, sneezing and coughing, I’ve felt guilty about not blogging for so long. It’s just hard to feel inspired when you feel crummy. (One day I downed two cups of coffee and found myself in a state of crafting mania, frantically looking for any junk that I could quickly turn into a DIY holiday craft- these plastic lids? This wine cork? These dirty leaves?) Finally I faced the facts that I need to buckle down and focus on getting more rest.
Eleanor is a baby who, often- but not always- wakes up a lot at night. And these days when she wakes up she wants me, my breasts, and nothing else. I try not to talk about her wakefulness much, because I’m usually not looking for advice. (Mothers- you know what I’m talking about here.) For me, the major problem with baby sleep advice is it seems to fall into one of two big camps. The first, most vocal group, yells;
“What are you waiting for, Dummy- let that baby cry herself to sleep! Sure, she may vomit in her bed, and you will all feel miserable, but she will sleep like an angel in three days, and will be a much happier and more well rounded human for it!”
The second, slightly quieter (but still as dogmatic) group exclaims;
“All babies wake up! They may wake up once, or twice, or twelve times each night until they are 6 years old, and that is completely normal! Why interfere with a beautiful baby’s natural sleep pattern? Get that baby to your breast and stop being so selfish, Woman!”
And I have let myself become trapped into thinking these are my only choices. Silly, right? (For the record, I have dipped my toes into both camps. She did, indeed, recently scream in her bed until she vomited, and of course we were all miserable. It is also not unheard of for her to sleep snuggled up next to me with my nipple in her mouth THE ENTIRE NIGHT.)
But, recently I looked into a book called The No-Cry Sleep Solution, and it feels like a great middle ground. The author, Elizabeth Pantley, is a mother of four children- each of whom slept differently at night (from a ‘perfect sleeper’, to an awake-every-hour-for-a-year sleeper). I’ve read just half of the book, but have put a few strategies into play, and I feel better already. Just having a plan feels good- doesn’t it?
I can’t vouch for Pantley’s plan yet, as I haven’t really dived in. I just wanted to share my optimism, because although this is a well known book, those of us not actively seeking expert sleep advice might not know about it. I am just happy to hear someone say;
“Hey! Your baby wakes up a lot? So did mine! You enjoy co-sleeping but don’t necessarily want a person attached to your body throughout the entire night? Me, too! You aren’t comfortable making your baby cry herself to sleep, but you also don’t want to be a bleary-eyed martyr for the next two years? Neither did I! Try some of this stuff- I know you are very tired so I’ll make it as simple as possible. It’ll take some work and a lot of patience, but I think you’ll be getting more sleep by Christmas!”
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