Caught Up in the Noise
Updated: Jan 30, 2020
It's early in the morning, and I’m watching the clock, waiting for it to tell me when you need to nurse again. You're crying, and I think you're hungry, but the article I read said that babies should eat, then play, then sleep. But I feel like you really just want to eat, play, eat, sleep, eat, sleep. Why are you different than the rest of these babies I read about?
It's late afternoon, and I'm sitting with you in this dark room, praying that you'll just stay asleep the next time I lay you in your crib. Everyone keeps telling me that I should be able to lay you down drowsy to teach you to self-soothe, but it's not working. I've probably been rocking you on and off for an hour. Your nap would have probably been over by now had I just let you stay asleep when you fell asleep on my breast. But I keep hearing that's a bad habit, so what am I supposed to do? Now you're overtired, and I'm in tears. We're feeding off of each other's stress. I wish your Dad would come home.
It's past midnight. Every time you wake, I nurse you and you fall right back asleep. But I can't let you sleep in my bed. Everyone tells me I could hurt you. So I pick you up & lay you back in your crib, and you wake. Every single time, you wake. And then I stand & rock you until I start to doze off and almost drop you from being so exhausted. How can this be any safer than letting you sleep next to me? I can't keep going on like this.
We're going on an outing this afternoon. Another well-meaning person asks me how you're sleeping. Inside, my anxiety rises as my head runs through all of the times you were awake last night, and how I couldn't get you down for your nap today and what a failure I am for just giving into nursing you to sleep and holding you the entire time you slept. I won't tell them that because I can't handle hearing about the bad habits and problems I'm creating for us both. I feel so much shame that I can't get my own baby to sleep without me. Isn't that the most basic milestone? That's why everyone asks me about it, right?
You are nearly six months old, and everyone says you should be sleeping well by now. But what does that even mean? Are other babies really not waking? Do they really just fall asleep independently in their crib? I decide to try a couple of "gentle" sleep training methods because I feel like it's the only way, but you just cry and cry, and my heart aches. This can't be how it's supposed to be. I go in and rock you and snuggle you, and your little body immediately relaxes as soon as I pick you up. So does mine.
One day, someone says to me, "Why don't you just let her sleep in bed with you? " And my world is changed. People actually do that? But no one talks about it. I research safe bedsharing for hours, and I'm angry that no one has every mentioned this to me before. And I give myself permission to let my you stay in bed sound asleep after nursing. You’re so peaceful. You wake a few times, nurse, & doze back off. So do I. I begin to enjoy my days with you, noticing YOU more instead of focusing on you sleep. I regret ever listening to everyone else.