I love my youngest child more than just about anything. His smile is like sunshine, capable of making my days a little bit brighter in so many ways. I love watching him learn and grow and hit milestones in seemingly record speed. But as much as I love him, and enjoy our mornings together, I wish to whatever deity might be listening that he didn't think morning started at 4:00 a.m. My 1-year-old still doesn't sleep through the night, guys, and I'm not sure how much more of this I can take.
He didn't always sleep like sh*t. As a newborn, he slept relatively well in the bassinet next to our bed, actually. I, on the other hand, slept like utter hell when I was co-sleeping with my baby. I had so much anxiety that I woke when he made the tiniest peep, and spent way too many nights staring at him on the off-chance he would randomly wake up. He was dreaming sweet dreams, but I was hyper-vigilant. It was brutal.
Then came his 4-month sleep regression. I am going to be honest and say that before this experience, I sort of thought that sleep regressions were something made up by the people who write baby-sleep advice books. I can blame my naivety on my other kids, who slept so poorly that I didn't notice when their sleep grew slightly worse. So when that regression rolled around I was completely caught by surprise. Before I knew it my son was waking up multiple times a night, often staying awake for hours. And, once again, I wasn't sleeping at all.
As a new mom, you learn to live on less than adequate amounts of sleep. It's like hazing, or torture, or a little bit of both. Since both my husband and I work during the day, we agreed to take turns shuffling back and forth from the nursery to our room, pleading with our son, rocking our son, and eventually snuggling our son into sleepy submission. If you look closely enough, you can probably see a worn path on the floor to and from his room. I wish that was a joke.
I learned in my 20s that nothing good happens at 3:00 a.m., and having a toddler who wants to have a dance party instead of sleep is no exception.
Eventually, and as the result of incredible sleep deprivation, my partner and I decided to sleep-train him. It was a new strategy for both of us, and we were totally in over our heads. I read countless books on the subject, but all of the sleep training methods seemed so foreign with names like "pick-up, put-down," "cry it out," and the "sleep lady shuffle." I hated hearing him cry, too, but I was desperate. Sleep is necessary, and I wasn't getting enough to function.
Eventually, I ended up handing the baby to my husband at bedtime and tagging him in for an unspecified, undetermined amount of time. I sucked at sleep training, and I'm not ashamed to admit that he was the best parent for the job. And, thankfully, his hard work paid off. My partner would put the sleepy baby down in his crib, let him fuss for a few minutes, and then go in to comfort him as needed. Before I knew it, three days had passed and our son was completely sleep trained. It was magical. Well, at least for a while.
In my experience, when you reach about day three of waking up that early and then having to work and remain upright until bedtime, you start to lose it.
We got used to an effortless bedtime, a solid chunk of overnight sleep, and waking up refreshed to a happy baby chattering on the baby monitor. Then our son started waking up earlier, and earlier, and eventually, he would wake at 3:00 a.m. or 4:00 a.m. and stay awake. I learned in my 20s that nothing good happens at 3:00 a.m., and having a toddler who wants to have a dance party instead of sleep is no exception.
We've tried to let him fuss and "self-soothe" in his crib. And, logically, I know that he'll be OK, but it's so hard to think logically when your baby is crying and utter exhaustion has made you confused and disoriented. It seems easier to just give up and make coffee, bring him to bed, try to doze on the couch, or catch up with my Australian friends on Facebook. And it is, until it isn't. In my experience, when you reach about day three of waking up that early and then having to work and remain upright until bedtime, you start to lose it.
I try to tell myself that these nights will not last forever, but that doesn't actually make me feel better.
I am honestly so tired that I am not sure how long I can continue at this pace. It's been weeks since our formerly "sleep-trained" toddler went to bed like a champ, and his constant waking-up-at-all-hours-of-the-night routine is incredibly exhausting. To make matters worse, the bullsh*t known as Daylight Savings Time just pushed his nighttime wake-up time back about an hour. FML.
I'm so tired, you guys. I just can't handle it anymore. I try to tell myself that these nights will not last forever, but that doesn't actually make me feel better. I have no idea what to do in the meantime, other than fill myself up with caffeine and try to be strong enough to let my son cry or fuss if he wakes up at an unreasonable hour. I'm trying to be cautiously optimistic and look on the bright side, and at least my son always wakes me up with his sunny smile, even if he's up before dawn.
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