At 3:30 this morning I was on Pinterest while feeding Oliver a bottle. He is three months old and still wakes up every night around this time, unlike his sister who had been sleeping soundly through the night for about 6 weeks by this age. Anyway, I came across a blog with tips on how to get your baby to sleep 8 hours a night by 8 weeks and 12 hours a night by 12 weeks. Obviously, this caught my interest so I read. And what the blogger said made sense. Keep to a schedule with feeding and naps. Be diligent about putting baby down awake so he can learn to soothe himself to sleep. Move baby to his crib at 1 month. There are lots of other useful ideas as well. (Link at bottom.)
With Emma I did not do these things. I kept to a feeding schedule, but I let her nap as she pleased as long as she didn’t sleep for longer than 2-3 hours at a time during the day. I rocked her to sleep nightly. And though she started sleeping through the night at only 7 weeks, we inevitably ended up having lots of sleeping issues later when she hit six months and started waking several times for me to rock her to sleep again. At 9 months we tried some modified cry it out techniques which got her sleeping through the night again, but she is now 2½ and still cries unless I stay in her room with her until she falls asleep. For the past 5 months or so she has been coming into my room at some point during the night and sleeping the rest of the night in my bed. We definitely have some night time issues.
While I was pregnant with Oliver, I vowed that I would learn from the mistakes I made with Emma. I would not rock him to sleep. I would lay him down awake. I would do whatever I could to avoid the heart wrenching nights of cry it out, the endless amount of time sitting by a toddler bed waiting for sleep to come, the constant middle of the night cries for Mommy. And then Oliver was born and something odd happened. I suddenly felt like the mistakes I made with Emma were not that I rocked her and coddled her too much, but that I didn’t do it enough.
Oliver falls asleep each night while drinking a bottle. I do not lay him down awake. In my defense, though, babies do not like to be laid down awake. They do not soothe themselves to sleep, they fuss and cry. Once he is asleep I put him in his crib in his room, but when he wakes up for a feeding in the wee hours of the morning I bring him to bed with me and keep him there the rest of the night. I know, I know. I’m practically doing the opposite of what any baby sleep expert would recommend. But I love cuddling with Oliver; I love the way his warm, snugly little body feels pressed up against me with his little head resting in the crook of my arm. Sometimes, despite being exhausted, I don’t fall asleep right away because I’m so busy watching his perfect, peaceful little face in the semi-dark light. He is the most amazing little thing, and I feel like I wouldn’t trade those moments with him for all the uninterrupted nights of sleep in the world.
It actually makes me a little sad that I didn’t do the same thing with Emmalee. I now completely regret the whole cry it out experience I put us both through. I wish I would have just brought her to bed with me and soaked up her littleness and yummy baby scent as much as I possibly could. To make it up to her, I now allow her into my bed without complaint. And to be completely honest, I kind of like it when she’s sleeping in the bed beside me.
So here I am, two babies in and more of a push over than ever. But what I’ve come to realize is that the moments when they are little are so fleeting. They won’t need me at night forever. Someday they will be preteens who are too big for hugs and cuddles. Someday they will be teenagers who are too cool for Mommy. Someday they will be adults living on their own. I’ll have plenty of time to sleep then. For now I don’t want to sleep, I just want to squeeze my babies for as long as they’ll let me.