From my short time spent as a parent I’ve come to find that fretting appears to be an inherent part of the process. I have always been a worrywart, but I’d have a difficult time believing that certain insecurities or worries don’t strike every parent on occasion. Am I feeding her enough? Am I feeding her too much? Is my milk supply going to decrease? Am I spoiling her? Am I playing with her enough? Am I stimulating her enough, or am I going to delay her intellectual development? Am I being a good mom? What will our relationship be like? All of these thoughts have run through my mind at some point or other since Kinsley’s birth, but fretting about her sleep habits has been the foremost on my mind until lately.
It was apparent from day one that Kinsley did not like to sleep alone, she loved to be held and slept best when she was in my arms or right next to me. After coming home from the hospital I would swaddle her at night and put her in her cradle propped up in her boppy in-between feedings, but she never slept well. One night when she was a few days old I awoke in a panic to hearing her making gagging and choking noises. Her face kept turning red and she was so young, and so little that it freaked me out. I picked her up immediately and ran her into our guest room where mom was staying. I figured that if anyone in the house would know what to do it’d be the lady who successfully birthed and raised four kids. Kinsley continued to cough and gag around, even after trying to suction her throat to clear any mucous. Frantically I called my pediatricians hotline number to talk to a nurse. By the time I had gotten a nurse on the phone Kinsley had began breathing normal again and was back asleep. The fear of SIDS had definitely added to my over-reaction and as a first time parent I was freaked out. That night I moved the boppy onto the bed in-between Ryan and me so I could easily keep my eye on her, and believe me I did. The rest of the night I slept very little. That night marked the beginning of Kinsley co-sleeping with us. It was easier all around. It decreased the pain of getting in and out of bed while trying to recover from a c-section, (especially after my incision came open) as well as enabled me to get more sleep.
As Kinsley grew and gained weight I began to feel more comfortable with her sleeping directly beside me. After a few nights of having her right beside me I realized that it allowed me to get much more sleep than sitting up to feed her throughout the night and so it became a habit. Kinsley hardly ever woke up at night when we slept like this. Even when she would want to nurse her eyes would never open, she would just begin crying a little and so I would nurse her and then she would be right back to sleep. I worried that I was going to spoil her and not ever be able to get her out of my bed, but because of exhaustion on my part we continued in the same routine. After awhile it got to the point to where Kinsley would not go to sleep unless I went to bed with her and laid down and nursed her. She would cry the second I laid her down. Even if she was asleep, it never failed that she would wake up the second I put her down. I was fearful that she would never grow out of this, but I desperately needed my sleep while finishing grad school, and so I continued to go to bed with her and nurse her to sleep. Kinsley spent some time in her cradle, but the majority of time was spent in our bed. I found that if we put the changing table in her cradle, she would sleep much better than if she was laying on the hard mattress and so I was able to get a little more time to myself in my own bed. I think it may be a combination of the feel of the soft cover as well as feeling more secure because of the shape of the changing table.
The first week in June, when Kinsley was 2 months old, I finished up the school year and cleaned out my classroom. This is when I realized that it was time to start trying to get her out of my bed completely. Kinsley still needed the closeness of being nursed to sleep and so I would nurse her, wait till she was completely out, and then move her into her cradle. At the beginning she would usually only last about 3 hours in the cradle and then would wake up to nurse. I had gotten so used to falling asleep while she was nursing that I would pass out and not wake up again until she woke up needing to be nursed again and so she would usually spend the rest of the night in bed with me. The transition was a slow process, but to be completely honest, I needed it that way. Even though I had gotten to where I didn’t sleep well at all with her beside me in my bed, I loved it. I loved the closeness of getting to snuggle with her. She was growing so fast that I loved being able to have that time with her. After a few days of this routine I randomly put her in her own room one night. She slept for about three hours, but I didn’t sleep at all. I realized that I wasn’t ready to have her out of my room yet. She wasn’t the one having withdrawals, I was.
For about another week Kinsley slept in our room, but in her cradle. She continued to needed to be nursed or rocked to sleep, but I didn’t mind because it was better than the alternative. I have never been able to let her “cry it out.” I know it works for many moms, and I don’t look down on others for the methods they choose to raise their own children because I believe different things work for different babies. However I found it went against my own natural motherly instinct and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. During this week I realized that she slept for longer periods of time when she was swaddled very tightly. I assume that it made her feel secure and as though she was still next to me. It was also during this week that I just randomly decided to try to put Kinsley down when she was still awake. For the first time since she was born she just looked and kicked around, and about five minutes later went to sleep. She only slept for about 45 minutes, but it didn’t matter, I felt hope! If she could do it once, I knew she could do it again. I didn’t have any luck the next couple nights, but found that she would go down for her naps on her own she was in her own room in her crib. This is when I decided to try to get her in her own room completely (about a week ago at 10wks). I finally felt ready, and I felt as though she was too. I moved the extra changing table out of her cradle, and transferred it to her crib. (I still put her on a changing table to sleep because she sleeps best that way.)
The very first night went swimmingly. I nursed her, put her down, and after kicking and looking around for about 10min she went to sleep. She slept for 5 hours, woke up to nurse and then I put her down again and she slept for another 4. I was so excited, yet kept myself grounded because I knew it wouldn’t happen two nights in a row. To my surprise, it did. The biggest change I have noticed since I began putting her down for her naps in her crib, and now for the night is that she is sleeping more than she ever has. Even as a newborn I was lucky to get 12 total hours of sleep out of her in a 24 hour period. She now has been averaging about 16. I don’t think it’s because she is in her crib, I think it’s just because her sleeping habits are beginning to change and develop. After all the time I spent fretting about how I was sure I was doing everything wrong, it just kind of worked itself out when she was ready.
I’ve learned a lesson that you can only learn if you’ve had a child. Time tends to solve all issues. This past week as been awesome. Kinsley doesn’t necessarily sleep through the night every night, but she IS in her own bed, she goes to sleep completely on her own without any crying what-so-ever, and wakes up a happy and content baby. She still needs me to nurse her 2 to 3 times a night, but I don’t mind at all. She’s not going to be this small for very long and it doesn’t bother me to get up and go to her. I feel that by making her feel secure when she was younger and needed the closeness, that it has helped her to reach this level of independence that she has now gained. Now my hope now is that it continues. I know that it could take another shift just as quickly as this one came about, however whatever happens in the future, I am now ready to just ride the wave. I’ll leave the fretting behind. What good does it do anyway?
She fell asleep in the car and we didn’t want to wake her taking her out.