I was lulled into a sense of false complacency with my firstborn. She was an angel who co-slept with us for the first six weeks, her little hands gripping the top of the blanket. She made the transition to the crib like a boss and slept through the night at four weeks. This raising babies shit is easy! Let’s have five of them! A year and a half later we went for #2 and were getting comments like, “Two is no joke!”, “Good luck on that!”, naively thinking that these people didn’t know what they were talking about. Note to all of the parents out there – parents of multiple children DO know what they’re talking about. Mine their experience and prepare for EVERYTHING.
This may be a bit dramatic because I had a very healthy boy who just popped out of me like he couldn’t wait to start life. And then he didn’t sleep. I mean, he did, like all babies do, but in fits. I slept on the couch downstairs with him so that Husband could get some sleep because yes, Parental Leave for partners is a joke in this country and he had to go back to work within a week. On the weekends, we switched so I wouldn’t lose my ever-loving mind during the week. Every 90 minutes Oli was up. We tried loud white noise, silence, extra formula, and nothing worked. I was so exhausted that I would just be talking to Husband and tears would start to leak out of my eyes unbeknownst to me. Then I went back to work and Oli went to the crib. And we continued this for SEVEN FUCKING MONTHS.
Try looking up Sleep Training on the Internet. You get a bunch of very vague articles on parenting sites that don’t really give you much to work off of, especially if you have a stubborn baby. On the other end of the spectrum are ads for Sleep Doulas, charging $3,000 to come over for the weekend and fix the situation. It’s cruel because you’re willing to do anything to make it stop but nobody has that sort of money to drop when raising kids. But finally we found someone who was a licensed sleep specialist and for $700 we decided to give it a go. She came over before bedtime and monitored our routine and when Oli started getting cranky she told us to put him to bed. At 5:30. And then he made a liar of us all and slept until she left at 9:30. Of course, he woke up about a half hour later but it was the longest he’d ever slept. The next day she sent me over a sleep schedule and told me to keep a sleep diary for the next two weeks. And so we got to work.
So here’s the secret I’m going to let you in on. It’s helped several of my friends get their babies to sleep and I know there are too many new parents out there struggling so why not give them the greatest gift ever: Sleep.
Wake up your baby by 7:00 a.m.
1st nap at 9:00 a.m. and should be for an hour max
2nd nap should be at 12:00 p.m. and should be for 1.5-2 hours.
Bedtime: Sometime between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. (Oli is still going to bed at 6:15 p.m. and he’s two so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it)
Now, I will say this. When they’re under six months old, they’re going to want that night feeding and that’s completely normal. After six months though, they should be able to sleep through the night without a feed. Also, at the eight month mark, while we got SOME nights where he was sleeping 12-13 hours a night straight it wasn’t consistent. And I got pissed. The final suggestion from the sleep specialist was to try cry it out. I HATED the idea with a passion. Basically when they wake up you go in, rub their back and let them know you’re there, shush a bit, and then leave the room again. Give them five minutes. Go in again. Give them ten minutes. Go in again. Give them 15 minutes. You catch my drift.
Oh and was that boy fucking pissed that first night: “What do you mean, you’re not going to pick me up and stay with me so I can do this to you again at 11:30 p.m. And 2:00 a.m. And 4:30 a.m. when your fucking alarm is going to wake you up an hour later for work!?!?!?! This seems unreasonable!” It took three nights of me feeling like the worst mom in the world but that kid has slept 12-13 hours a night since then. He’s happier, he’s fucking fun, and he’s the sweetest boy in the world. I wish all of you luck with this, both moms and dads, because a severe lack of sleep is no joke. All of us don’t need to be punished just because we decided to have our minions. And fuck if we don’t deserve to able to watch just one episode of our favorite show on Netflix without interruption.