Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dear Sleep-Deprived Mama, You are not alone.

It's probably the number one question friends, family, and total strangers in Target will ask you when you have a baby.

"Is he sleeping through the night yet?"

And if your answer is no, it's a dreaded question.  There are many things that can make you feel like a failure as a mom...and if you don't have a "good sleeper" it can be emotionally tough. Not to mention the toll that a lack of sleep has on your brain and body.

I knew realistically that when I had a newborn, my usual 8-10 hours of sleep would be interrupted.  I would be waking up for feedings for several weeks.  I  That's going to be a tough 10-12 weeks.  Haha.  Silly me.  That was cute.

I read BabyWise when I was pregnant.  Piece of cake, right?  I assumed that since I read the book, my child would follow what the book said would happen if I followed steps A, B, C.  When what I read didn't match up to real life, I went on to read other books. I realized that book after book contradicted itself.  I wanted someone to tell me the right way to fix my problems.  I talked to other moms.  I talked to my pediatrician.  No one had THE answer.

It's normal to wake up every 3 hours until age 1.
He's waking up every 3 hours?!
My daughter slept through the night at 6 weeks.
My daughter woke up twice a night until she was 3.
Let him cry it out.
Crying it out can damage his emotional psyche.
He's hungry.
He's definitely not hungry.
He's just spoiled.
He needs mother's comfort.
You should co-sleep.
Co-sleeping is child abuse.
He's probably too cold.
He's probably too hot.
He's teething.
Give him Advil.
Advil is poison.
He's not sleeping because you don't give him rice cereal.
Rice cereal causes leaky gut syndrome.
He needs crib bumpers.
Crib bumpers are so dangerous.
He needs a night light.
He needs complete darkness.
He needs to be swaddled.
Swaddling causes hip dysplasia.

After buying a crib vibrator (yes...they make those), organic sheets, melatonin, essential oils, a magic sleep suit, Zipadee Do Da Blanket, and every white noise machine and app on the market...I accepted the fact that Leo wasn't going to sleep through the night and neither was I.  6 months had passed and I needed to cope and quit being frustrated and angry.  Instead of groaning, punching my pillow, and waving fists in the air...I accepted it.  He woke up, I nursed him, he went back in his crib happy and sleepy and I would get another 3-4 hours until he woke up again.  I'll continue this and then in time, one night, he'll just sleep through the night when he's ready. Right??

Then Leo turned one.  Surely now.  He's 12 months.  C'mon.  It's going to happen.  This is getting freaking embarrassing.  I'm going to be like that mom on the cover of Time Magazine who is nursing her 7 year old.

15 months.  It was time.  TIME TO SLEEP!  I mean...the kid eats like a teenage football player at this point.  He eats 3 solid meals a day, plus breast milk 3 times a day.  He can eat an entire avocado in one sitting.  He definitely is not starving.  His growth chart is on track.  He's completely happy and healthy.  I knew I only had one thing left to try.  Cry.  It.  Out.  I knew it would be excruciating.  Leo is strong-willed.  He doesn't give in easily.

I committed to not nursing at night no matter how hard it was.  It took 3 nights of torture.  He woke up many times crying.  Sometimes crying for 1-2 hours with varying levels of volume and intensity.  It took 3 nights of praying, crying on both our parts, and very little sleep.  Then it happened.  The 4th crying.  We made it.  Just when I wanted to give in, I realized it was working.

We've now gone 2 weeks of ups and downs.  I haven't slept well at all and I've had massive anxiety, but I didn't give in and nurse him after bedtime once I decided to give it up.  Last night, for the first time in nearly 16 months, I slept for 8 solid hours without either of us waking up.  It's the most amazing feeling on Earth!

To any mamas reading this...this is NOT an plea to let your babies cry for hours at night.  It's just my story.  And to let you know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  There are many other mamas up at all hours of the night praying, cursing, crying, bouncing babies, nursing babies, hiding in the pantry eating cookie dough, or laying there in their beds holding their breath in hopes that little noise they heard will go away and won't turn in to wailing crying.  You are not alone.  Keep the faith and press on with what your gut tells you is best for your baby.  XO


  1. Um.... THANK YOU! I needed this. Seriously, so many moms keep asking if he's sleeping through the night. Noah recently regressed and we are back at square one... Nursing every two hours. Ugh. We had made it all the way up to six hour stretches and the one night it all went out the window. You described everything to a TEE! That long list of do's and don'ts is exactly what's staring me in the face right now. I was really comforted to know I'm not alone.

    1. Thanks, Monique! I was hoping it be encouraging! And maybe give someone a good laugh. Please email or call me if you ever want to talk! Being a new mom is so awesome but so hard. Little Noah is so blessed to have you!