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Family Matters: Sleepless Nights


The first six months of my boys’ lives are largely defined by how tired I was. I had NO IDEA of the impact of waking up umpteen times a night. Mildly put, it wreaked havoc on my emotions, my energy, my moods and pretty much everything in between.

With my first son, I was so certain, as most first-time parents are, of how things would be done. He would not use a pacifier. He would sleep in his own crib. He’d be sleeping through the night by 8 weeks old.

Ahem.

After his first week of life spent sucking a blister onto my pinkie finger when he wasn’t actively eating, I made a middle-of-the-night dash for the stash of pacifiers – still in packages – that I’d received for my baby shower. Ripping open the first pack I found, I hurriedly boiled water on the stove, sterilized the paci, then popped it into the freezer to cool it off.  When the temperature was moderate and my left arm was cramped from the bouncing baby in it during that process, I popped that pacifier into his puckered lips. He went right to sleep. Ahhhhhhhh…..

Now, my older one did sleep in his own crib from the first night he came home. He had a cute little sleep positioner that kept him on his side (his preferred position), and I kept him swaddled like a baby burrito (easy to do with a January baby). After about the first three weeks, he was like clockwork. He woke up at 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. and went right back to sleep. I fed him in the rocking chair in his room in the dark and quiet. Soon, he weaned himself off of the 1 a.m. feeding and by 16 weeks was sleeping through the night. A little longer than I’d hoped, but still, not unreasonable.

So, with baby No. 2, I figured it would work pretty much the same way.

What was I thinking?

Second son didn’t stop eating his first month of life. I mean, I’m pretty sure he didn’t stop at all. At least that’s how I remember it in my sleep-deprived state. Forget the crib. I was too sore after a second c-section to get up and down every 30 seconds all night to feed him. I borrowed a bassinet from a friend and popped him down next to me.

I kept telling myself, “You can make it 16 weeks; you can make it 16 weeks.”

Soon he became too congested to sleep in the bassinet. He slept, partially upright, in his bouncy seat. After we got his cold cleared up, he just decided not to sleep at all. Now at this point, not only did I have Mr. Eats Nonstop, I also had Mr. Terrifying Toddler, his older brother. I had to sleep.

Going against everything I’d done the first time, I stripped all the blankets off the bed and popped that baby right beside me at night. He ate, we slept. All got better in our world.

He did make it to his crib eventually. He wasn’t sleeping through the night at 16 weeks – or 20 weeks – or 24 weeks… I’ll just stop there as not to be forced to reveal how long it did take. But he did sleep through eventually. Now he’s my kid who is impossible to wake up. Go figure.

Point being: every kid is different. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to sleep. Your child won’t be scarred sleeping only in his crib OR only in your bed. And if he has to sleep in the bouncy seat for three weeks, so be it. They sleep. You sleep.

All gets right with the world.


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