Not sleeping well comes with the territory of having a new baby. I resigned myself early in my pregnancy to potentially wake at least every hour since I am essentially a living and breathing food truck now. It’s a good thing I fostered my expectations in this fashion because the first few weeks were almost exactly an hour or two, day and night. There was lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth from all persons involved.
There’s an interesting level of madness that begins to creep into the corners of your psyche after the first week of sleep deprivation. You try to trick yourself into thinking, “hey, at least we’re getting about 8 hours in chunks. Right?” Yeah, no. There’s a reason that letting someone fall asleep just long enough to enter REM and then rudely waking them up is used as a form of torture. If there is one thing Hazel was a master of in those early weeks, it was sensing the exact moment waking us would be excruciating. The weird thing is, you do get used to it after two months of restless nights and existing as a zombie during the day.
Then, one glorious morning that seems to be from the pages of an impossible fairy tale, you’ll not be woken up in those wee hours. You’ll wake up and look around the room that is just beginning to brighten with gorgeous tendrils of sunlight and blissfully stretch your well-rested limbs. You will be filled with a renewed sense of energy and giddiness because the last time you slept this well was before pregnancy. The birds jovially singing outside will inspire Disney princess levels of exuberance and imagery… and then your aching, rock-hard boobs force you to remember, “HOLY SHIT, THE BABY!” You clumsily fling yourself out of bed and rush to where your little one is sleeping to check if she’s still breathing. Yup, still alive! Wait. Something MUST be wrong! It’s been 10 hours. There’s no way she slept all night! You’ll realize that all babies have the natural progression of sleeping through the night, but the unreasonable worry that she is ill and surely dying is still lingering in your brain. After the terror begins to subside, a weird sense of pride in your baby creeps in. The outpouring of praise in ridiculous baby-talk comes spewing forth faster than your brain has time to form proper words. You know it probably isn’t going to happen every night, but you’ll be damned if you aren’t going to bask in this victory.
How did we manage this at merely 2 months and 10 days, you might be asking? I honestly don’t have a perfect answer. After about several weeks of the relatively solid bedtime routine (described below) and the consistent double night wakings, she just managed to sleep until morning. 10 hours is a long time! Every book I have read says 5 to 6 hours is what is considered “sleeping through the night.” Hazel must have looked at that and said, “challenge accepted,” and then overachieved for funsies. Every baby is different, but if she wants to be a sleep champion, I’m SO okay with this.
For Your Consideration:
These are some things that are working well for us:
- Owlet Smart Sock – yeah, it’s a bit costly, but so is any product worth its weight. It monitors baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels with live readings and notifies you via your smartphone and the base station it comes with if anything is amiss. Ours has gone off several times because the sock wasn’t getting proper readings or Hazel managed to kick it off. Both my husband and I feel so much more confident sleeping with it activated every night. If the price is a bit too steep for your budget, they do offer refurbished models at a significantly reduced cost, and even have a lottery for free monitors for those with especially difficult financial situations. Definitely check out their website!
- Baby Connect App (Android and iPhone) – worth the few bucks spent and will save you from wondering when the last feeding or diaper change was or what her sleep pattern is like when the pediatrician asks. You can even add caretakers to have access so they can log activites while watching your little one. My husband and I regularly use it in tandem: he logs the diaper while I’m timing her feeding, for example. It sounds a bit tedious, but I’m glad we decided to use it.
- Bedtime Routine – Every baby and household is different, but I can say with confidence that the routine we’ve developed for our little one has been successful. Ours is currently as follows: 7:00(ish) bathtime, dress in night clothes (long sleeve, zip-up onesies) and sleep sack, nurse until sleepy/asleep, put down in the bassinet (currently next to our bed). I’ve also implemented some things here and there from several books that were recommended to me by many friends and our pediatrician. I’ve linked them below, so feel free to consider these. If nothing else, it will provide you with some good ideas and expectations without being preachy or demand that their way is the only way.
If you’re a new parent reading this thinking this will never happen for you, I can almost certainly promise it will. Maybe not tonight, maybe not even next month, but it WILL happen. I know it’s emotionally, mentally, and even physically taxing, but try to keep yourself looking forward to that. Every baby and situation is different, so don’t worry if what someone or some book recommends doesn’t work for you. There are so many different things to try that will.
Let me hear your great ideas and routines!