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The Sleep Struggle: Surviving Without Sleeping

New moms report that sleep is their number one struggle in the first year of parenting.

It starts out with our precious angels growing in our bellies. We get so big and uncomfortable, waking up every hour to pee, that sleep is illusive. The truth is, though, we don’t know how good we had it until the day our babies are placed in our arms.  At that point sleep becomes the mythical creature that we all know we had heard of, once or twice.  Exhaustion aside, we don’t mind losing sleep because it’s for our babies. Deep down inside, somewhere, we love waking up early in the morning to play and giggle, after we’ve had our coffee, of course, and there is truly nothing more peaceful than rocking our babies back to sleep in the wee hours of the morning.

#TheStruggle: Sleep the first year is ROUGH.

In retrospect, I stressed out too much about having my baby sleep “the right way,” and depending on who you ask there are a handful of “right ways.” I remember so vividly that months before our son’s arrival I talked to our doula about where our little bundle of joy would sleep.  My response to this simple questions was, “Wherever we can get him to sleep the best.”  We had a co-sleeper, a bassinet and a crib. We were ready! 

Except that we were not anywhere near ready!

In the hospital, our baby boy was snuggled by a combination of mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle and friends.  I don’t even think he spent a total of two hours in the bassinet!  When we got home that trend continued because — guess what? — now he didn’t want to be put down anywhere.  I was terrified of me or anyone else falling asleep with him in their arms.  So we took shifts being awake while he peacefully slept on our chests.

That lasted for about 2 weeks — and that was rough!

At the two week mark, mom and dad discovered that our little boy loved to sleep… in his car seat. We finally got to sleep at the same time!  I was terrified but exhausted, so I slept.  The car seat was reclined back and we strapped him so he wouldn’t get tangled, but still a mother’s job of worrying is never over. In his own time, he eventually got squirmy in the car seat, graduated to the bassinet and mommy could worry a little less and sleep a lot better.

Graduated.

Now our little guy is a year old (excuse me while I go bawl my eyes out) and he sleeps in his crib, in his own room.  Long gone are the midnight feedings and early morning snuggles; and now that they are a thing of the past I sure do miss them.  It wasn’t easy.  I read all of the books.  I stalked the mom groups on Facebook, asking my own questions and reading other feeds. I googled, endlessly. I asked friends and family what they thought we should do.  Of course, I talked to my pediatrician.  In the end, our baby still slept where he wanted to, when he wanted to, just like I had told our doula we would let him do! 

It may not have been “the right way,” depending on who you ask, but it was the right way for us.

Just Sleep.

This story is a familiar one to any new mom.  The worry is endless and the sleep is hard to come by. No matter where you have your little one sleep, someone is going to have an opinion about it. No matter what method you use to get your little one to sleep, someone is going to have an opinion about it. I’m here to tell you to shake it off.  Throwing routines, schedules, and sleep training out the window worked for us but that doesn’t mean it works for everyone.  That’s how we shed some of the stress surrounding sleep. Others thrive on routine and the chaos we endured would be anxiety-inducing. Be careful whose advice you take to heart and do what works for your family.

Of course, sleep safety is extremely important, and in my case, my number one concern.  For the best tips on sleep safety do yourself a favor and stay off Facebook. Instead, consult your pediatrician and check out the CDC.

If you missed the first #thestruggle blog on the first year, then check it out here!

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