Thursday, October 27, 2016

A foolproof solution for a baby who hates sleep

Step 1: Drink coffee. All the coffee. You aren't pregnant anymore, the sky's the limit!
Step 2: Accept it, you had a baby, it's your life now, no one likes a whiner.
There is no step 3

Optional step: Rejoice in the fact that your baby is cuter than all those pro sleeping babies.

Squishy newborn I MISS IT.

I have two beautiful, healthy sons, and every single day I'm in awe of how smart, funny, sweet, and generally perfect they are. While they have so many talents, there is one thing they both suck at: sleep. (But apparently when they do sleep, I creep on them, because this post is filled with their sleeping pictures.)

Baby sleep is quite the tricky beast. Adults love sleep. Babies hate sleep. We're at odds that way. The really confusing part is that some babies actually do love sleep. They sleep for their parents quite easily. Then, these parents go on to write books, websites, messages in the sky, etc about how to get a baby to sleep. After all, they must be the experts right? Their baby sleeps. Yours doesn't.

My theory is that the universe just gifted them an easy sleeper. Some people even get multiple easy sleepers. That's great for them. But it doesn't necessarily mean they have any useful advice for those of us who aren't in that boat. Example: The Sleep Lady. Wrote a book. Probably makes lots of money. Her kids both slept through the night (STTN) by 8 weeks old, which she admits herself in her book (that I stupidly bought). Tell me again how you are an "expert"?

The biggest thing I heard as a frustrated new mom was put the baby down "drowsy but awake". Oh, you just put the baby down, and let him go to sleep? GENIUS. Why didn't I think of that? Clearly that was the answer.

Except that Dalton, from birth, screamed like he had been dropped into an ice bath if he was put down. Drowsy, awake, asleep, dead asleep, or anything in between - that child didn't appreciate it. There was no "drowsy but awake". Trust me, we tried. I tried so hard that my phone now autocorrects other things to the term "DBA". He wasn't having it. For us, drowsy but awake would have been letting our newborn cry it out, which, um, no. I worked really hard not to jump up and get him for every little cry, so if he was just fussing, I gave him time. But that was rare. More often, it was all out hysteria rather than minor fussing. I think some babies just have a smoother transition to life on the outside, and some, like mine, need a little more comfort to adjust.

Throwback Dalton newborn photo!

Dalton also didn't sleep anywhere but on us. Again, all those experts that were blessed with sleeping children gave us their sage advice. Swaddle, rock and play, white noise, warm up his sleeping spot, let him sleep with something you've worn, etc, etc, etc. We tried it all. Dalton is smart. He wasn't fooled by a tight swaddle and a rock and play, he wanted a parent. People probably judged that. I see people in FB mom groups (seriously I'm in too many) bragging about how they didn't nurse to sleep/didn't use sleep crutches/put baby in the crib from day 1/whatever. That's great. You didn't NEED to do those things. But I truly believe that some babies DO need them, because they are all different, just like adults. My husband can fall asleep anywhere, any time, with no problem. Me? I need to be in my bed, on my side, hugging my body pillow, preferably with white noise, and complete darkness. If there was one method that worked for all babies, there wouldn't be two trillion books/websites/theories all proclaiming they are THE way to get your baby to sleep.

Probably one of the last times he ever fell asleep with me :(

I liken it to Michael Phelps mom (who Dalton has met and high fived BTW). She put her kid in swim lessons, encouraged him, and BOOM - Olympic athlete. So she has a perfect method, right? Except for every MP, there are a few thousand kids also being encouraged in swim lessons who are just average swimmers at best. Is she a great mom for encouraging that natural talent? Absolutely! I'm sure her support was integral to his success. But all the rest of the parents whose results didn't yield an Olympian didn't do anything wrong. Kids: YMMV.

I know I didn't ruin him for life (or Royce either, who, incidentally, does the drowsy but awake thing) because the world's authority on motherhood and resident best mother ever, my own mom, nursed me, my brother, and sister to sleep, and NOT ONE of us requires it any longer. In fact, none of us required it past infancy, and on top of that, we are all functioning, even productive members of society. And Dalton now gets a story, song, kiss, and gets plopped in his crib and we see him in the morning. 

I guess this post doesn't really have a point, I'm just putting it out there because I bet there are other moms whose babies just say no to drowsy but awake, or wake up all night far past when they are "supposed" to, or just generally don't follow whatever some sleep expert said, so - solidarity. We can sleep when we're dead, and until then, COFFEE. 

I demand all mothers with sleep hating babies comment (no matter how old your baby is now) so that we can all join forces. #normalizebeingawakeallnight


  1. My two-year old can't nap worth a damn (even now when she's sick and waking up after every. single. sleep cycle all night long and is sooo exhausted during the day), but neither can I...or my dad...or his mom. I think we're just genetically crappy sleepers (how do I know she's been waking up after every sleep cycle? Because I'm getting two hours of sleep at night now thanks to pregnancy insomnia and those damn genes). It's not like she *wants* to be exhausted and cranky. Meanwhile, I've seen and experienced some of those magical fairy sleeping babies, and it made me realize that we didn't do anything wrong, babies are just born different. Because they're humans.

    Does this even make sense? I need coffee.

    1. I forgot to mention: she's NEVER slept in a stroller, even as a newborn, almost never in the car, and while she would fall asleep in a carrier, she would wake up the second I stopped moving or if someone spoke to me or made a moderately loud noise.

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  3. If I'm around, my almost 2 year old can only fall asleep with a boob (I know). Daycare and my mom can get her to sleep (no boobs). But me? Boob city.

  4. I was gifted a good sleeper with baby number 1, so I am pretty positive that I will get a horrendous sleeper when and if baby 2 comes on the scene, since by all accounts I did not sleep EVER as a baby and I think the universe is sure to be paying that forward to me. I have tried to be so careful to never say anything to anyone about my son's sleep that could ever be construed as anything other than "He is just a good sleeper. It had nothing to do with me or anything I did or didn't do".

    He has also made up for his good sleeping with having horrible issues with biting and getting kicked out of 3 daycares for it. And if one more person tells me to just bite him back because their mom told them that totally worked, I will punch them in the face.

  5. We nursed to sleep well in to toddlerhood. X still wakes up at night and calls for us. If we don't go, he'll come to us. At this point I think the newborn will be a STTNer sooner than big brother.

    Also, I never even tried DBA.

  6. *raises hand* I'm still nursing my 2.25 year old to sleep anywhere from 1-3 times a night. DBA led to hysterics. Sleep training was a joke. But I read a fantastic article recently that said the sleep "norms" are all basically BS because they are based on generations of babies that had completely different feeding and sleeping routines and that research is finding that it is much more common for babies to wake through the night and need to sleep close to their parents until a much later age than previously thought. So the no-sleepers are actually the normal ones! Don't you feel great and not tired now?? (lol)

  7. Ha! I love this. I'm late to this party, but at nearly 18 months, my kid has never slept through the night. Literally. Not once. It's up and down and milk all night. I thought, surely I must be doing something wrong. Every time someone humblebragged about how groggy they were from 10 hours of sleep because their baby STTN, I fought the urge to say rude words and throw punches. On the plus side my son is his own sibling-prevention device.

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