Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"How's she sleeping?" Part One

As far as major life events go, the knee-jerk reactions are as follows:
  • Engagement: Have you set a date?
  • Wedding: When are you going to have kids?
  • Pregnancy: How are you feeling?
  • New Baby: How's she sleeping?
Why is this the question that everyone asks a new parent? The answer can really only go one of two ways. Either the new parent says "s/he is sleeping great, we are so lucky!" and then everyone wants to punch them in the face for all the sleepless nights they had with their own child, or the new parent says "s/he is not sleeping and we are zombies and OMG why do people have babies?!" ... or something along those lines.

Because, really, what new parent ever feels they are sleeping enough? I don't know adults without kids who are sleeping enough. But I tell you this, adults friends without kids, if you think you're tired now ...


Just wait until it's been three months and you haven't slept in longer than 3 hour increments in the better part of a year*. Then you'll know tired. When all you want for Christmas is a way to transfer coffee directly into your blood stream, then you know tired

*that's another subject altogether, but to all the jerks that say "sleep now, while you can!" to a pregnant women, you've obviously never known the joys of heartburn, peeing every 30 minutes, anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, chronic congestion, why is this pillow so hard, is he seriously snoring that loud, did we send Aunt Sally a thank you note and an 8 pound bowling ball with legs that's trying to break out through your lungs. and oh yeah now you have to pee again. go ahead, ask me if I miss being pregnant, I dare you.

The thing is, London was an amazing sleeper when she was tiny. She slept three hours straight the first night she was born, and at least that long every night thereafter. She was sleeping 5 hour stretches regularly at 5 weeks. She never missed a beat despite a transatlantic flight. Ben & I thought we were doing everything right - she was sleeping in her own crib from the night we brought her home! - and we actually talked about how easy this "parenting" thing was. Famous last words.

Then she hit 8 weeks and it all went to shit. No schedule. There were a few nights she was up every hour and a half, two if we were lucky. I remember one particularly trying moment when I was holding her in the recliner and Ben was laying on the floor of the nursery. It was about two in the morning, he was muttering something along the lines of, "What do we do?," while I googled, "How young is too young to cry it out?".

Those were desperate times. 

And of course, they coincided with the time that I was starting back to work, so I had approximately 300 people each day asking me if I was getting any sleep. Did the fact that I am double-fisting diet coke and iced coffee not clue you in to the fact that NO, I am not getting any sleep?!

Sometimes, as new parents, we smile and nod and say everything's great to avoid the unsolicited advice. But then, your resolve wears so thin that you start whining to anyone who will listen about how many times she was up last night (Five. Or was it six?) and next thing you know, you're in the pediatrician's office pleading with her to just let you get some sleep!

To be fair, by the time London hit 4 months, she was waking up twice most nights. To bed at 8pm, up at 1, up at 4, up for the day at 7am. This was pretty standard. And to many new parents, waking up only twice a night probably sounds like a dream. But when you're never getting more than 3 hours of sleep at a time, you're ready to fix it. Of course, the pediatrician told us what we already knew was the answer - those three dreaded words.

Cry. It. Out.

Ugh, makes me sick to my stomach just seeing them. Cry it out, or CIO as the cool kids say, is a super controversial topic (almost as much so as breastfeeding - another topic for another day). But we committed to it because we knew that teaching London to self soothe was the only way we'd ever get her sleeping through the night. I'd be lying if I said there weren't a few nights where Ben all-but had to restrain me in bed.

... to be continued


  1. Yikes. CIO. It's giving me hives just thinking about those months of torture. But, as you're probably already realizing, it's totally worth it. I would also like to take this time to thank our husbands, who are usually logical and rational during times like these. Amen?

    Also, I think that when people DON'T have kids, their favorite thing to say is "Get your sleep now while you can! You're doomed!" because they obviously have no idea what else to contribute. I would never say that to you. I'm two blinks away from a nervous breakdown on account of the sleep deprivation, so you won't hear that from me.

  2. As someone who is currently getting up several nights to pee, can't seem to find a comfortable position, and sometimes wishes I could smother my husband's snoring with a pillow all in the name of getting some sleep can I just say I love you, I feel for you and I know all about the zombie status you are currently operating in.
    Have you checked out the book Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Ferber? Dan's aunt sent it to us the week that Mabry was born and I swear it saved all of our sanities. It isn't something we followed word-for-word. But there were some awesome tips to help with the whole CIO to make it less terrible for everyone involved as well as some other great ideas, understandings, insights, etc.