Do I have your attention? The title may seem to imply that this post is about sex, but really, it’s not. It’s actually a reference to the back-and-forth-push-and-pull journey we’ve been on with our daughter’s sleeping arrangements in her 16 months of life. Buckle up! It all started when we were in the hospital. I remember the night nurses telling us “the second night is the hardest” and it was. Oh boy was it ever. All of my ideas about baby slumbering peacefully in the hospital-provided bassinet were thrown out the window when all she wanted was to be snuggled up to her exhausted, sore mama in the uncomfortable hospital bed (while daddy snored unaware on a cot by himself, of course). Then, when we brought our angel home and placed her in the bedside bassinet the first night, it surprisingly worked… well, that night. After that, no dice. She would flail awake as soon as I put her down.
shaming truth-telling moment* The first few weeks of her life, the only place we could get this baby to stay asleep was her Mamaroo. Yep, totally breaks all of the “rules.” What I envisioned in my head about baby sleeping in her bassinet and, later, her crib was once again out the window. What I was experiencing with my baby went against everything I had been told and, ultimately, everything I imagined. What the hospital said is “right and best and safe.” And even how my mom described that my siblings and I, all 3 of us, slept in our cribs from day 1. Were we doing something wrong? Was our baby different? At the advice of a dear friend and seasoned mom of 4, we kept at it in the name of getting sleep, but I couldn’t help but feel horribly guilty (and usually slept with one eye open to make sure she didn’t slump over and stop breathing).
Fast-forward to month 2 when I started getting into some Dr. Sears articles and I gave co-sleeping a whirl. The clouds parted, the angels sang and we started to get more sleep! It was amazing, but I also couldn’t shake the feeling that we were somehow “breaking the rules” (I’m a first-born, I worry about things like this apparently). Since those early days, we’ve gone back and forth (as the title of this post implies) with being able to get Cora asleep in our bed… then move her to her bed… where she’d inevitably awaken and come back to our bed again. The bedroom cha-cha. Although, after what I think was her first year molars coming in, she’s doing less cha-cha-ing and more straight-up sleeping in our bed. Like, full time.
I actually don’t mind it. In fact, I love being able to snuggle with her, I enjoy the closeness. And there really is nothing better than waking up to her smiling face in the mornings. But I do wonder about what we’d do if we brought another babe into the mix and then I go down the dark, winding path of “sleep training” options and contemplate what makes sense for us and what might work. All sleep training books and articles seem to address different ways of achieving the same outcome: teaching children to fall asleep on their own. Is it just me or does the concept of teaching any child of any age to “fall asleep alone” seem like a nightmare?? Maybe it’s just my kid, but I tried (and FAILED) at this a few times throughout her first year and each time either resulted in screaming (when she was a wee one) and/or seemed like it would take her at least a couple hours to actually fall asleep (after she was older). It felt like a terrible, never-ending staring contest in one of my more recent attempts – like she thought it was a game. And I felt awful about the idea of having her wait it out until her little body gave in to the exhaustion.
And so now, this is where we’re at – still sleeping with our 16-month-old “baby,” well-versed on many sleep training “approaches” but very trigger shy. No advice to share at this point – this is more of a “before” post and hopefully I’ll have an “after” at some point before she goes to college to share some helpful tips and tricks to all you other weary parents in the same boat (please tell me there are others in this boat??). What worked for you? What didn’t work for you?
UPDATE: We’ve had “progress” in the bedtime department. Well, I call it progress, you may call it something else: https://ttgirls.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/from-bedroom-cha-cha-to-hostage-negotiations.