I have written a few times previously about my struggle with my son’s sleeping. I don’t think he is the worst sleeper ever, but he’s certainly not the best. Now that he’s over a year old, I’ve been reflecting on our journey toward a full night’s sleep and I’ve found that I can break it up into a few different stages.
Every baby is different, but I bet a lot of parents can relate to these:
Stage 1: You are in the shiny new baby phase: you are in awe of this life you and your partner have brought into the world. You can’t believe what you’ve created and they are so. freaking. cute and they smell SO good. And you are on a new-parent high and you honestly don’t mind waking up every two hours to feed and comfort your adorable child. Somewhere in your brain, the rational part of you knows it’s not normal to never sleep more than an hour and a half at a time, but you’re honestly not that tired. You set an alarm to remind you to get up and feed the baby and sometimes you find yourself counting the minutes until it’s time.
Stage 2: A few weeks in, the exhaustion starts to hit: OMG, this baby needs me every second. Your body is really starting to feel the lack of sleep, and your baby wakes up so often that you feel as though by the time you hear the baby cry, get up, change a diaper, feed, burp, and get the baby back to sleep, you have a couple of minutes to lay your head down before it’s time to start the process over again. Oh, and you no longer need to set that alarm on your phone because your baby is waking up even more often than before. This is when you may start to call in reinforcements and have someone else take a feeding or two while you catch a nap.
Stage 3: Finally, your baby is sleeping in longer stretches. You’re getting to three or four hours in a row now, and it is starting to feel like your child actually has a bedtime, that there is a distinction between night and day for this kid. You mostly enjoy the extra sleep and quiet time, but occasionally are seized by a fear that everything is too quiet and your baby is sleeping too well, and you sneak into the nursery to peek and make sure he or she is still breathing. And sometimes wake them up in the process of checking on them. And then you swear you’re not going to do that again. But you will.
Stage 4: Your baby takes real naps and only wakes up once a night. You think, this is amazing! I can do this forever! I’m sleeping more than three hours in a row!
Stage 5: Okay, shouldn’t he be sleeping all night by now? You hear about your friends’ kids sleeping through the night (actually, they’ve been doing that for a while now) and you think, am I doomed to never sleep an entire night again?
Stage 6: Whether by sleep training, or by good fortune, your baby is finally sleeping all night. You are so happy. Except for a while, out of habit, you’ll wake up anyway, unable to go back to sleep until you sneak into the nursery and see his little face.
Or maybe that’s just me.