Close Those Eyes My Babe and Sleep


If I had to name just one baby thing that I think our society is obsessed with, it would have to be sleep. It is, by far, the question that I get asked most frequently. "Is he sleeping though the night yet?" Why no, but we're fine with that. It seems understandable when close friends or family ask about this -- I'm sure they really do care and are concerned that we're getting enough sleep ourselves. But, it's also what the nice older lady asks me about in the check-out line at the grocery store. The tales of sleep training and the trial of crying-it-out have so permeated our culture that we find it hard to know what else to talk about when it comes to babies, I think.

When we chose to follow parenting philosophies that are outside of the mainstream, such as Attachment Parenting and other gentle parenting philosophies, I didn't realize how hard it would be to talk about what a challenge it sometimes is. Because it's "different" I feel a lot of pressure to live as some sort of an example. Any admission that it's difficult means that "Aha! AP doesn't work! I knew it!" But parenting is hard no matter how you do it and sometimes it helps to be able to talk about it.

We're at a challenging time, in our rhythm of sleep. When he was three-months-old my little champ would give us an initial eight hour stretch when we put him down at night. Then the four-month sleep regression hit followed immediately by teething, which has banged right up against separation anxiety. We have nights that we're up every hour and we have nights that are slightly better. But we have yet to get back to those blissful 8-hour stretches. Not even close.

I've found that anytime I try to encourage a change in sleep pattern with Silas, even when I try to do so gently, we are far more miserable than we were initially. At one point I decided that we needed to get on a nap schedule and spent an entire day in a battle of wills with him about sleeping. He cried. I cried. We spent hours rocking in a dark room. It really just wasn't worth it. Because I'm able to stay at home, I have incredible flexibility about his naps, so I decided to just embrace it. We sleep when he's tired. He wakes up when he's ready. We're all a lot happier when we let the patterns emerge naturally. And they have. We have our little routine and we both know, generally, how our days will go. I'm sure that it's not at all how the books say our days should go, but I'm pretty sure those authors have never met my son and don't know better than I do what's best for him and for us. We take it as it comes.

The artwork pictured above is the cover of sheet music that once belonged to my great grandmother and now hangs in our bedroom. It was printed in 1904 and states "as sung by Miss Sabel Johnson." When I read this I kind-of liked the name and asked Steve what he thought of "Sabel" for a possible future baby girl. "Seriously?" He replied, "Sable Cable?" Ah...didn't think that one through did I?

4 comments:

  1. I have had five babies and one grandchild and we have yet to get on a sleeping schedule. First they're babies, then teenagers who like to stay up all night! Sleep is just overrated if you ask me. I can sleep when my family is all grown and on their own.
    What a teasure your picture of sheet music is..very lovely! xx

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  2. That should say treasure, sorry.

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  3. We are in a struggle with sleep as well, with P waking up about every hour (soemtimes even more, sometimes less) to nurse. I am guessing it is teething, but man, I am exhausted. I am hoping not for sleeping through the night, but for a return to those 3 or 4 hour stretches that I thought were here to stay.... Wishing you a restful sleep tonight!

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  4. I spent many hours trying to get my kids to sleep. And you know what? I think I exhausted myself in the process :) Thanks for reminding me of the by gone days!

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