The number one thing that I think all mamas can agree on is how wild the concept of sleep is + how frustrating and confusing it can be.
I understand that there will be plenty of different viewpoints than mine + ultimately, you must do what is workable for your family. I felt it was time I shared what worked/works for our family in hopes that I can inspire and give support to those who need it. I know I’m always in need of some of that ;)
I don’t know about you but I am bombarded daily with ads or posts from “sleep experts” claiming to have the newest solution to get your little one to sleep soundly all night/ every night/ with no help needed from you at all. Oh, this will obviously allow you to sleep soundly all night + get ALL the beauty sleep. These ads and posts have been in my grill since day one of motherhood.
Well, I’ve never paid much attention (I mean, I had to really actively work on this–they’re everywhere!) to these ads or posts because from the very beginning of my motherhood adventure, I made the decision that I would get sleep at some point (and as much as I could each night) but with lowered expectations. This actually helped tremendously. I’m all about lowering expectations because they truly make the most amazing memories and moments AND what transpires from these are far lovelier and greater than any expectation I may have had in the first place. Another thing for me was following my baby’s lead + also acknowledging that he was only 1 month/8 months/20 months, etc. I knew that if I followed his lead, it would all turn out ok (and my sanity would stay relatively intact).
When George first arrived, we co-slept + it worked beautifully for us. It was so helpful with the amount of breastfeeding that happened for the first many months. Of course, when we first started co-sleeping, I was terrified and had many of the fears that most first time mamas have–am I going to roll over my child?! BUT NO. If you co-sleep safely and follow the rules, you’ll be golden.
Early on I decided that my goal as a new mother was to ensure my little dude had the best sleep he could have and in any which way he could have it. I also had a goal that I was going to do whatever it took for EVERYONE in the house to get good sleep–even if that meant holding George for EVERY SINGLE nap in his first year of life, wearing him in a carrier to appointments so he would sleep + nurse on our way there, or saying no to certain events or plans that would effect the family’s sleep.
I wish I could tell you this was easy to do. But it wasn’t. I hated having to say no to certain plans or have to strap him on my chest and take the damn subway. Holding him for naps was hard on me as I went through phases of thinking I wasn’t doing the right thing (or should be cleaning or something) +the good ol’ “so and so’s baby sleeps soundly in a crib and is a goddamn unicorn why can’t my baby be like that?” bologna.
I just kept following his lead with my favourite mommy mantra replaying in my head (especially on hard nights!) “this is not an emergency” and honestly, it paid off. And I couldn’t be more thrilled. I allowed myself to be patient (definitely a first, haha) and I knew that he would eventually sleep on his own.
As you may have read many posts back, I had a Montessori floor bed in his room. Around his first birthday, he started to stay sleeping without me laying right beside him the whole time–this was a HUGE win. I was able to roll out + spend time alone with my hubs or take a longer shower or eat the cookies I didn’t want to share with my son.
As the year went on, he would sleep longer stretches (and I would start my night in MY OWN BED WITH MY HUBS!!) and although George would wake often (the most would be 4-5 times/night), I would go in each and every time and nurse him back to sleep. Truthfully, around the 2am wake up time I would just pass out on his twin mattress and we would sleep soundly until around 7am…again, this may not be workable for you but my gosh, it totally helped me get the rest I needed without the additional stress.
Right before his second birthday, we decided it was time to move that mattress off the floor and get GBB his very own big boy bed! We used the same mattress + bought him the IKEA KURA bed (which I can’t wait to flip when he’s bigger for a little loft bed!). We put an extra long bed rail on the side so he wouldn’t roll out (he totally did the first night without it!) and it’s been so incredible.
Around this time, I started to notice that he was actually sleeping MUCH longer stretches. I would wake up in my bed and be like, “wait. what? it’s 2am and he hasn’t woke up yet?!” And of course, I couldn’t fall back to sleep (old habits die hard!) and when I would finally pass out, he would wake (5am ish!), ha.
He started to do this every night (except for a few nights #teething).He would sleep until 5:30/6:30am all by himself and I’ve been getting 6-7 STRAIGHT hours of sleep. And it couldn’t have come at a better time, honestly. I’m so thrilled with his progress and you better believe that Hubs and I acknowledge him HUGE each and every morning. I’m so proud of him + he is very proud to be a big boy too.
If you’re frustrated and/or straight up exhausted, I totally get it. Like, I’m with ya sister. And just when you think your baby/toddler will never sleep/eat the food you serve him/get through teething, you blink and they do. And you’ll be like HOLD THE PHONE WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN? It all goes so quickly. So without sounding too Pollyanna (haha), savour it as much as you can because one day you’ll wake up and your little missus or dude will be going off to college/getting married/having their own littles. AND WHEN I THINK ABOUT THIS I LITERALLY COULD CRY BECAUSE LIFE IS WILD.
All of this to say, MAMA, your baby WILL get there. And you’re doing an amazing job. Motherhood is such a trip and it can be so hella-overwhelming + trust me, I’ve been there (and heyyyy, I’m learning the new world of toddlerhood sooooo yeah, it’s never-ending!).