What nobody told me about motherhood

Teddy bears in bedI definitely think someone should write a book about the things they don’t tell you about motherhood. I’m sure there’s at least a book worth of stuff that I have learned just from on the job training. Considering all the mothers I’ve known in my life, it sure would have been nice if they had filled me on on some of this.

One thing I had no clue about, is that I had no idea I could be dealing with an 18 month old who still doesn’t sleep through the  night on her own. Inevitably she ends up in our bed each night somewhere between 12 – 4 am. And if that wasn’t good enough, once she gets into the bed it’s not like she cuddles and sleeps the rest of the night. After she’s in the bed she proceeds to wiggle and turn so much that nobody is getting any sleep. Needless to say, she’s got to sleep in her bed and stay there.

I have researched a few different sleep training methods, and realized there are some things I just won’t do. Sleep training is a very personal thing and there is not a one size fits all policy. I simply won’t just leave my daughter in her room to cry it out. I am not judging parents who use these methods; it’s just not for me. Even more, I resent people who tell me to just let her cry or act like I have a third eye when I tell them my daughter still has trouble sleeping. I know I’m not the only one!

Recently I was told about a class given to help mothers struggling to get their children to sleep. The class is in Orange County, CA, and is conducted by Heather Irvine at Good Nite Baby, who also does personal consultations. For one thing the class is great because it’s so nice to hear that I’m not the only one struggling with toddler sleep issues. The class has also been a huge wake up call in addressing my own part in her sleep problems. One thing that has been kind of hard to deal with is that essentially the issues I’m having with my daughter’s sleep are of my own making. We are doing what they call “reactive co-sleeping.” In an effort to maintain sanity we bring her to our bed instead of doing what we need to get her back in her own. And it’s not even like it helps us get sleep, it just helps keep her quiet. Luckily there is no judgment, just solutions, but it’s crazy to think that my attempt just to pacify my daughter may have led to more issues.

So far in weeks one and two we have learned various ways to set the stage for sleep success. We haven’t even officially begun “sleep coaching,” but I have already made so many changes! Here’s just a quick list -

  • Eating dinner earlier, but snack before bed
  • Oatmeal as snack for most nights
  • Bath every night (as compared to every other night)
  • Shorter bedtime routine
  • Less reading time after bath
  • Louder setting on white noise machine
  • Adding a humidifier at night

I think there’s more, but that’s all I can think of right now. Next week we start the official sleep training, and while I know it will be hard I am looking forward to getting her into regular sleep habits. I think I’ll be an even better mommy once I can sleep through the night again.

Mama said there’ll be days like this…

I just didn’t know there’d be so darned many.  

Before I got pregnant I knew there’d sleepless nights.  I figured that the first few months would be pretty hard and then everything would all even out.  Little did I know that I’d be nearly 10 months in and without a good nights sleep for nearly a year.

Yes, a year.  Unfortunately I was one of those pregnant women that began my sleepless nights well before delivery.  Towards the end I tossed and turned at night, trying to find a good position.  Being pregnant reduced me to sleeping on only one side.  Obviously you can’t sleep on your tummy.  On your back you suffocate.  And on my right side I felt like someone was sticking a hot poker into my upper abdomen (I still don’t know what that was all about, but occasionally I get that same pain now after I do ab exercises).  So that left me with only my left side.  After a while, even that’s gonna hurt. So I bought a maternity pillow. That helped… a little. 

Post pregnancy was no better. It seems that what’s good for babies – breastfeeding, helps ensure that they do not sleep. Ever. Going back to work only made a bad situation worse.  Did you know that some babies who don’t get to see mommy during the day wake up more during the night to see her?  Yeah, super sweet thought but it doesn’t help me sleep at night.

As I wrote not too long ago, things just haven’t gotten any better as she gets older.  Last week she was sick and it was even worse. When does it get better?  Does the switch go off finally where she’ll just magically learn to sleep through the night.  With each passing night I lose just a little more hope.  And a little more sleep.

Dear Daughter

Dear Pumpkin,

You are the sweetest, most precious little girl in the whole world. Mommy can’t tell you enough how much I love you. However, mommy also really likes sleep. Mommy doesn’t think she’s had more than four hours of sleep at one time since before you were born, as you even liked to wake me up when you were in my tummy. So I’m going to ask you nicely, please will you learn to sleep through the night? Or if that’s too much to ask, maybe just five hours or so?

If you help me out on this, mommy will be eternally grateful and I promise I’ll give you a lollipop when you’re somewhere around five.

Kissies,

Mommy

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