Sleep

The other day someone asked me what I thought about baby sleep.
I told them nothing, because it is such a controversial issue and it seems like it makes perfectly reasonable parents go crazy. You take a normally functioning human and then keep them from sleeping for just a few weeks and they just turn a little strange.  They read books and ask everyone they know for help. Then whatever book they were trying the day their baby slept through the night becomes the most miraculous cure ever invented.
Actually it's surprising when people say they are tired and you are a new parent.  Your friend posts on their facebook wall how they were up late from flying home from a trip then waking up for work the next day.  Rage just wells up when they whine about their four hours of sleep. The next day they are so tired but they had to study for a final so they only got five hours of sleep. You yell at your spouse when you are sharing the story with them about your stupid friend.  They probably are tired. but it will end.  They can go home and have a nap. But you can't. It sucks.  Then you cry.  Then you comment on their posting.   You are pretty sure your sentence made sense when you typed it. Someone else says how they are a new parent but not tired- and it's your own fault for not doing whatever it is that they are doing. You hate them.
Then you sleep an hour and get up again and feel grateful that you didn't yell at that poor unsuspecting friend.  Or maybe you did. You are just so mad that they think they are tired.  You. Are. Unreasonable. After two months you think you are going crazy. Your baby is older but you are more sleep deprived and crazy tired than ever. With Mark after six months I thought I might actually be hallucinating. Maybe I was but then again maybe not.  Still not sure.
I seems like every mom has some grand theory about sleep with babies.  Take a bunch of sleep deprived people who need structure in their lives and have very little control and you will get what- a whole lot of crazy. They are sure that if you do their plan you will have ultimate success. They have had it with their million billion children- or more commonly- their one child. My opinion?  The people with the strongest opinions are usually those least qualified to have them. This applies to medical opinions as well, but that is another topic...
  Right now my baby sleeps about eight hours a night.  He is 12 weeks old. I am dying of happiness. I am pretty into the feed on demand and comforting your child methods of parenting.  These methods almost  killed me with Mark.  The adjustment to two kids while my husband adjusted to medical school were probably one of the worst times in my life.  ever. As I was getting ready to have my third everyone told me that this would be the most horrible time ever.  I honestly couldn't imagine being more broken than with two. I decided I couldn't handle that much trouble- I couldn't stay awake if it meant I couldn't care for my other children again, because I don't know who would come bail me out of the mess of my life this time.
Then I got blessed with a good sleeper. The first month he had to be held to sleep. I had help for that period and John miraculously had Christmas break. Lots of people helped us.  Then one night he slept alone in his crib for a few hours. Then a few more.
I like the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" which had advice on how to get your baby to sleep, including white noise and swaddling.  When Danielle was born we read it and used it, and were quite happy when our screaming grouchy reflux baby started sleeping 12 hours a night with a four hour nap. Then came Mark.  Mark did not sleep more than a few hours for SO LONG.  Everyone decided it was their job to tell me about their sleep success. So many unsolicited ideas. This is when I developed my strongest sleep opinion.  Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you do not. Some babies sleep longer, earlier. Be grateful if you have one of those babies.
 At first I wanted to be like the ├╝ber righteous co-sleeping people. Maybe with a little cot next to my bed so it didn't increase the risk of infant suffocation. What a delightfully happy breastfeeding mom I would be.
Except I can't sleep with an infant in the room.  Have you heard them?  They breathe loud. LOUD, I tell you. Loudly?  should I be telling you loudly? Whatever I can't do it. It's hard enough with John waking me up in the night.  Who knew I was a light sleeper. But my dream of those cute little mini cribs has been crushed by the fact that I own a normal sized crib and those little bed boxes just don't work for me.
The people I like the least are the cry it out people.  Even the founder of the so called "Ferber Method" says parents take it too far.  I heard him talk about how it wasn't his intention that people leave their babies all night.  Ok maybe I hate the Baby Wise people more.  They read a book that had to be revised because the original ideas lead to failure to thrive in infants.  Seriously? You are supporting a method that could lead to your child's death? Then they defend their opinions- oh no the book has been changed since the whole DEBACLE WHERE IT WAS PULLED FROM SHELVES SINCE IT HURT BABIES. oh Fantastic- good thing you are a disciple of the new and revised version instead of one of the fanatics from the really really bad version. Shouldn't you maybe question the credibility of your source though? Be proud of your inability to obtain reliable information.  Also be proud of how "you" taught your child to sleep.  Ignore that babies start sleeping longer when their bodies and brains are ready for it.
I think I am a little bitter about it.  I just don't understand recommending something like that. Congratulations with the forced revision, maybe some of your ideas don't put infants at risk of death and help them sleep now.

Maybe you are just desperate for some success since you are so very tired from caring for a child. Then again, maybe you aren't tired at all since you don't wake up with baby.  Or maybe your baby sleeps all night. Either way I don't want to be your friend.
Well actually I do, but if I was cooler I wouldn't be your friend just for that, out of principle. I have slept enough in the past little while to know that what sleep method you use isn't a reason to end a friendship.
Eventually, babies start sleeping.  Or go to the doctor for something more serious.  Maybe swaddling can help- or scheduling for feeding or white noise or whatever.  You know what helps most of all?  Time.  Growing up helps them sleep better.
That is what I think about baby sleep.  All right I have more opinions because you can read a lot about sleep if you just cut out the sleep portion of your day, but I'm bored with my thoughts.

What do you think?

NaDell Ransom (March 11, 2012 at 1:32 AM)  

I LOVE it when babies start sleeping through the night, but it totally depends on their own little bodies schedule. Some babies just can't handle not eating at some point of the night for a while (up to 18 months for some kids!) At least if you have had one of each you can easily appreciate the sleep!
I'm not much for reading sleep training books. They just seem like a waste of time to me. I'd rather read fun books! OR sleep when I'm not up with a baby.
Not sleeping really makes a person crazy. Thank goodness for naps. =)

Missy (March 11, 2012 at 5:17 AM)  

So glad you have a sleepy baby! It makes all of the difference. I think you are correct in the fact that all babies are different and what worked perfectly for one person, may not work at all for the next.

My daughter slept ok at night, maybe 6 hours or so after a few months, but it took a while. And she is not much of a napper either, maybe 45 minutes once a day (She is two now). Meanwhile my sister's boy sleeps 12 hours at night and takes 3 hour naps every day. I'm green with jealousy. It's pretty much a gamble on what you will get.

Anyway, bottom line is: It's ok to seek advice and methods but be wary of people who have all the answers...They have really only found what worked FOR THEM, not the rest of the world.

Hang in there!

C (March 11, 2012 at 11:50 AM)  

I don't know what I think about sleep. Too tired to really care...but you are hilarious.

Suzy Tranter (March 12, 2012 at 5:20 PM)  

Turns out I must be that person you hate :) I read Baby Wise and although I don't agree with it totally, I don't see any problem with letting your child cry it out for awhile when they're big enough to sleep through the night. Worked for me, both my kids didn't die, and are healthy and adjusted. Both are still great sleepers. I believe in the method that every parent knows what's best for them and their child and different things work for different families. Every mom is just doing the best they can.

Nelson Family (March 12, 2012 at 6:17 PM)  

Uhm, I hate you and your sleeping baby ;) Mostly I'm just jealous. My second child is 9 months and still waking 4 to 5 times a night. It's killing me and driving me crazy at the same time. How did you finally get Mark to sleep? Magic?

janaemadsen (March 12, 2012 at 8:17 PM)  

I love all the comments- Suzy I don't hate you, except out of jealousy for your sleeping kids :-) It's true that everyone has to see what works for them- With Mark it never really went well he just kept trying to be nocturnal and still wakes up in the night pretty regularly- at about 18 months we convinced him to sleep 8 hours in a row.

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