All I Want for Christmas is a Silent Night

>> Wednesday, December 16, 2009




Lately, I have been questioning myself as a mom. I'm sure there will be many moments when I second-guess my decisions, so I should probably get used to it. My little one turned 5 months old yesterday, and I realized, I have a 5 month old that doesn't sleep through the night. I haven't had an unbroken nights' sleep in over 5 months. I know that 5 months is still pretty young, but there are other things too. For instance, unless he's in his carseat or stroller, my son won't nap anywhere but on my lap or in my arms.  I can sometimes succeed in putting him down after he's already asleep, but he won't fall asleep without me holding him during the day. At night, he is now able to fall asleep without being held. He breastfeeds, then rolls over and goes to sleep on his own. But he will NOT do so in his crib. I've tried giving him a bottle while he's lying down in there in the hopes that when he was done eating he'd do the same thing he does in our bed, but he won't. He's done it once, maybe twice, but usually what happens is that he just rolls around and wants to play in there, and then he gets overtired and cries. Then I pick him up because I don't feel comfortable just letting him cry when I'm in a position to comfort him, and he usually wants to breastfeed, and he'll do so for a minute or two and then fall asleep.

Then I can sometimes transfer him to his pack and play, sometimes not. I wonder if it is my fault that he can't sleep on his own. I remember when he was 3 weeks old, my grandmother telling me that I needed to put him down when he napped so that he'd learn to sleep on his own. But I didn't want to put him down. My biological drive to hold him constantly was so strong that putting him down seemed like torture to me. Plus, he was so tiny and squishy that he was easy to hold. Now he is a lot bigger and a lot heavier. His legs hang over the side of my lap when he sleeps on me, and my limbs fall asleep from his weight. Sleeping curved around him in bed is getting more challenging because he's so much taller, but I can't just let him sleep independently in our bed because I'm afraid he'll roll onto the floor, or end up getting smothered by the covers or something. I use my body as a wall to protect him, and as a result, my back, neck and hips hurt. Ouch. But now I'm in the position of having conditioned my baby to only fall asleep with me right there.

Then there's the issue of him still waking several times a night to eat. I'm tired, and of course I dream of eight uninterrupted hours of sleep, though I'd even take him waking one time, sleeping in two 4 hour intervals. But he's up 2, 3 even 4 or 5 times a night some nights. And they say that this is because I'm beside him and he knows he can eat, so of course he's going to wake up for a snack.

I have to say that I feel like now he's waking up out of habit, rather than because he's actually hungry. I think this because for 2 out of 3 night wakings, he usually eats for less than 2 minutes before falling back asleep. But then I think, I sleep with a glass of water next to my bed because I get thirsty. And our apartment is pretty dry. So maybe he doesn't need to eat, but maybe he does need a drink, and who I am to tell him he can't have one? Sigh.

You can see where I would be confused and frustrated about what to do. Some people say its important to have a bedtime routine so that once the routine is done, the baby just knows its time for sleep and they go down a lot easier. I wrote a about a routine way back in my blog, but honestly, we are just not routine people and the whole thing kind of just fizzled out. Plus I heard that its better not to have a routine because then your baby is more adaptable and can go to sleep anywhere, anytime, with anyone--and since I'm too lazy to recreate the exact same thing every night, this idea appealed to me. But can my baby go to sleep anywhere, anytime, with anyone? Not so much.

Just when I was working myself up into a frenzy about whether I'm wrong for not scheduling my baby, allowing him to eat whenever he wants, and generally being a crunchy, crunchy hippie by following "child led parenting", I came across this article. It is not totally against schedules, but it is against Babywise, the Attachment Parenting antithesis.

It made me feel better to know that there are some people (namely the AAP, WHO and of course API) who do not think that I am doing my son irreperable damage by raising him this way. I know there's definitely more than one way to raise a happy, healthy child, but I don't think its in my kiddo's best interest to go against my instincts. And my instincts just happen to fall in line with Attachment Parenting principles. So I guess I need to just keep doing what I'm doing and know that my son will sleep through the night when he's ready.

1 comments:

TulipGirl December 17, 2009 at 5:56 PM  

Blech. Tried to post twice and firefox is not agreeing with the comment box.

To summarize, with your psych background, you'll find a lot on infant growth, development, neurobiology, and sleep which will affirm the choices you are making. It's normal for infants to need night nurturing and it is totally okay!

Btw, this is the article I -wish- that I had read when my boys were really little and I was struggling. . . (It reflects my faith and my beliefs about what we can learn through science and observation both, though I don't want to offend -- I don't know where you are coming from faith-wise. Just that this would have been oh-so-encouraging to me when mine were little.)

http://recoveringpessimist.blogspot.com/2009/07/godly-symbiosis.html

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