Monday, December 3, 2012

Sleeping Through The Night

"Is your baby sleeping through the night yet?"

When I took a newborn care class when I was 38 weeks pregnant the woman teaching the class warned us that this would be one of the most common questions we would get after, "How old is your baby?" and "What is his/her name?" She told us that if someone asks, feel free to lie. I didn't understand the need to lie about such a thing, but at the time I didn't understand the judgement that comes with the question.

I went to a post partum mom and me class where mothers talked before class about how the journey of motherhood was going so far. The most vocal mothers were sure to talk about how well their baby slept. I overheard one mother whisper to another, "I am starting to think my baby is the only one that wakes up every few hours to eat." The babies ranged in age from 4-8 weeks old. A time when babies are supposed to be waking for feedings especially if they are breastfeeding.

When I brought Kaylee to a baby singalong at the local library a mother asked the typical questions about Kaylee and then said, "My daughter was sleeping through the night at 2 months, is your daughter sleeping through the night yet?" The question was set up as if sleeping through the night was some huge accomplishment and there was obvious pride in her voice that her 2 month old could sleep so well.

I went to Kaylee's four month appointment where my pediatrician asked if she was sleeping thought the night. I told her that she still got up to nurse in which my pediatrician seemed less than thrilled. She gave me a paper about how to get your baby to sleep all night (cry it out) and informed me that a four month old has no need to eat at night.

Sometimes at night when my husband has rolled to the other side of the bed I find myself cold and awake. I roll over until our bodies touch so I can drift back to sleep feeling warm and safe. You don't need to be awake to feel lonely, it happens in your sleep too. During pregnancy and especially while nursing those first few months I would awake to a grumbling in my stomach. I would wander down the hall and open the fridge, letting the light fill the dark room until I found a suitable snack. Sometimes I wake up between dreams and play through the dream in my head before allowing myself to fall sleep again. Do I sleep through the night? Sometimes. Most nights, but not every night.

Does my daughter wake up lonely and cold and in need of a snuggle? Yes, and I pull her close to me and hold her tight. Does she wake up with a grumbling her in her stomach sometimes? Yes, and I feed her without a second thought. Does she wake up between dreams just because? Yes, and I stroke her hair or nuzzle her neck until she falls asleep again. Does she sleep through the night? Sometimes. Most nights, but not every night.

I now understand why the teacher of our newborn class told us to feel free to lie, but I feel no need to pretend my daughter is capable of something she is not. I don't want other moms to feel like their 6 week old is the only baby not sleeping well when in reality most babies still have lots of needs in the night for a long time. And I don't want the mom of a 10 month old to feel like she is a failure because her baby still doesn't sleep through the night. So when asked I shrug and answer, "Sometimes" as if it is no big deal because in the long run it really isn't.

I have a lot of things in life that I want for my daughter and the ability to sleep through the night isn't really high on my priority list. I would rather my daughter know that regardless of the time, how tired I am, or how silly the need may be, that I will always be there for her. I want her to feel safe and secure 24 hours a day. And for the nights she feels comfortable enough to sleep the whole night through then I am happy for her, but I will not feel disappointed when there are nights (and there are many nights) that she finds herself needing her mama in the early morning hours or all through the night. I would rather boast that my daughter feels loved and cherished regardless of the hour than boast that my daughter sleeps for 7 hours straight. But you can't quantify love and fulfillment so people will continue to ask, "Is she sleeping through the night?" as if that is more important than, "Does she feel safe and tended to?"


  1. My 7 month old is in bed with me everynight and I personally love it. Even my 4 year olds wake up at least 2x a week at night and crawl into bed with us. Instead of spending money on cribs I should have invested in a bigger bed! I also feed her "adult" food, she hates pureed anything, and loves the spices and flavor of what we eat. I get a few disapproving looks about that also.

    1. I feel the same way about the crib money! My dad made a cradle that all of us slept in and they saved it to pass on to their grandkids. Sad to say I never once put Kaylee in it because she has always slept with me.

      We start solids in a few weeks and I am going to start on some purees, but the plan is to do baby led weaning. People are so judgmental when it comes to parenting probably because it is something they are passionate about. I think there are lots of great ways to raise kids, but I think you and I are on the same page when it comes to child rearing.

  2. Great post cyster! I loved how you ended this. Best question to ever ask that never ever gets asked. Alayna will sleep and sleep but we get her up at night to make sure that diaper is changed. We try to prevent diaper rash as much as possible but she seems to have them often.

    To be honest she sleeps best in our bed!!!! She loves it being close to her mama and dada. I know you aren't suppose to sleep with the baby in bed but hey I guess sometimes you can bend the rules :)

    1. That is great that Alayna is a good sleeper. You are very lucky! Sorry to hear about the diaper rash :/ That certainly is no fun.

      Kaylee has never slept anywhere except our bed! I even slept with her on my chest the first night in the hospital since I couldn't bear put her down. Even though most people don't come out and say it most everyone I know has pulled baby into bed even if it is just a couple hours on a rough night to get a little more sleep. My nighttime snuggles are one of my favorite things about motherhood!

  3. Awesome attitude! My guy sleeps usually from 7 until 3 and then wakes at 6am. However some nights he wakes three times in the night. If he wakes any time after 4 I take him into my bed until we have to get up. The hilarious thing is my husband can't stand the sucking noises so he moves to the couch. Somehow me and the baby end up sleeping on 1/8th of our kingsize bed. No matter how far I try to move away from him after nursing he squiges back right beside me!

    1. Hahha! That is funny about your husband not liking the sucking noise. My husband often snores (ugh!) so I am sure he can't hear a thing over his own snoring!!