As I watch my friend with small children go through the struggles of little ones, I find myself reflecting back to a time that wasn’t always pleasant. I know this may sound harsh, but it is the truth.
When I had my son, I was a young mother. At the time, I thought his sleeping habits were awful. I was tired, stressed and sometimes wondered how I made it through. Isn’t it funny how when subsequent children arrive, the previous ones now seemed so simple?
I am a zombie
My daughter was born six years after my son. This child never slept. I mean seriously. Sure the first week or so was great, as my husband was off of work and his parents stayed with us to help out. That first week was magical – it really was. Then my husband returned to work, the in-laws went home and I was alone. Very alone. It was just my daughter (I called her “the sleepless wonder”) and I. She would wake up several times during the night, and I would be the one to get up and feed and change her, and try for an hour or so to get her back to sleep. I remember crawling back into bed and finally drifting back to sleep, only to hear “WAHHHHHHHHHH” about 30 minutes later. I.thought.I.would.die. Is it even possible for a human being to even survive with little to no sleep for
years days on end?
My husband was working the graveyard shift and so not only was I the one up with her about eight times a night, but also during the day. I also had to try to keep her quiet during the day so he could sleep. Now this might sound extreme, but I am not exaggerating – if I was lucky, she took two 20 minute naps a day. I kept thinking to myself, “this child has just got to pass out at some point”. Nope. It didn’t happen. Well, it did years later – she is now 13 and loves her sleep.
My husband, bless his heart, helped as much as he could when he was home. I would anxiously await his days off, so I could get a break. The only time she would take a decent nap is when she could sleep on his chest. Those were very happy times for me.
Don’t swaddle me, Mom
I tried everything to get her to sleep during the night, but nothing worked. At first she was in a bassinet in our room. Yeah, no.
Now when my son was a baby, it was recommended that babies sleep on their stomachs. I think babies felt warm and cozy that way. By the time my daughter came around, they recommended side sleeping or back sleeping. Well she didn’t like that and she also did not like being swaddled. She would fling her arms out and hit the on the side of the bassinet, waking herself up. We finally tried the crib. Ummmm no – that did not work either. We moved the crib into our room. Nope.
We found that she liked sleeping in her stroller when we were out and about. We got so desperate at one point that we put the stroller in our room, right next to my side of the bed, and it worked okay. Until…each time she woke up during the night. We would feed her, she would fall asleep, we would carefully place her in the stroller and our hearts would race as we “clicked” the sea tbelt. It usually woke her and we had to start all over again. It was awful. Over the years, we bought one of those kid’s pull out sofa/futon things and she slept on that for awhile (when she was older of course). Of course that stopped working too.
She would also fall asleep in the car – most times. I spent countless hours driving around the neighborhood just trying to get her to sleep. Of course, when I pulled into the garage and tried to take her out of her car seat, she would wake up. It became pointless really.
This child literally did not sleep until she was about four years old. We were so incredibly fatigued. If she was my first child, I don’t know that I would have had a second. Here’s a little advice: Never take your first child’s sleeping habits for granted. They probably slept better than your next child will!
What are your experiences with children sleeping, or lack thereof?