Monday, February 11, 2008


Having a newborn gives one a new perspective on sleep. While in college you may have learned how little sleep was actually necessary to function - I didn't. I was one of those annoying people who finished things ahead of schedule and studied all semester so I didn't have to freak out and pull all-nighters. I've always been a pretty regular 7-8 hour per night kind of girl. Imagine my surprise, then, when I discover that it is possible to function on blocks of sleep of less than 3 hours at a stretch. Imagine my surprise at being able to sustain this for five months. (let me put emphasis on the word function rather than excel or succeed)

One evening, in quiet desperation, I pleaded to my husband "What am I doing wrong?" Pointing to the array of books on the topic (there are at least two books on getting your child to sleep through the night for every book on nutrition, behavior, and development), he reassured me that it was hardly an uncommon problem. And yet, in this case, company hardly lessens the misery. Few parents own up to having a child who wakens frequently in the night. Instead, those lucky few boast about the number of hours their angel sleeps each night. I do everything I've read that should help - regular naps, quiet evenings, a bedtime routine - and still he wakes every 2-3 hours demanding to eat.

This past week, however, my focus has shifted. I don't really care if he sleeps through the night, if only putting him to sleep could be more peaceful. Bedtime has not been idyllic for some time, having a child who seems to require a bit of screaming to unwind each night. We've overcome the hurdle of being able to put him into his bassinet once he is asleep (patience and persistence), but now he seems to recognize the bedtime routine and has been putting up mounting resistance to falling asleep. If he accidentally falls asleep while nursing, he'll wake up within the hour with extra energy for his revolt.

I'm hoping this is "just a phase" as my mother said through the years she had young children, but I can't help feeling like perhaps there is something we've done wrong to find ourselves in this situation. Books would certainly seem to indicate this is the case - for if we aren't doing anything wrong, how can they sell themselves as the cure? Barring the "crying-it-out" method* we are left to our only devices: rocking and swaying while he protests, trading off when one parent's emotional limit is breached, and praying that tomorrow sleep will come more gracefully.
sleeping beauty. mismatched sheets are a hallmark of midnight sheet changes.

* "Crying it out" is not an option, as can be corroborated by anyone who has been in the car with us - this child has a passionate reserve of energy for making his feelings known.


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