I made this post about Harry's sleep when he was a little over 6 months old. There were some links attached to the last paragraph of the original post that I have to dig up.
Though we have made strides in some ways (he does let me leave him for an hour or so at a time), I am still struggling to make peace with his sleep, or lack of it. We are in another rough patch and I'm having a hard time. I know he's doing fine - he is happy, healthy and energetic as hell. I just wish we could get some sort of routine down. Or, if we could just bottle his energy, we could solve the gas crisis.
January 24, 2008 @ 10:39 am
I’ve written about how Harry is a big eater and not a big sleeper. About how he likes to be held all the time. About how active and strong he is. And about how exhausted I am. I have come to the conclusion that Harry is a “High Needs Baby.” The characteristics describe him perfectly, except that he is not a cranky, grumpy child. He is just demanding. He knows what he wants and will not rest until he gets it. That means no rest for us until we give him what he wants. Coming to this realization has been a big thing for me. It is not the easiest thing to admit, because I felt like his “issues” were a result of our parenting. The more I come to terms with it, I realize that he just is the way he is because that is who he is. Once I let go of feeling like I was to “blame,” for lack of a better word, I could start to see that I just need to change my expectations of him and my expectations of myself. He is not like other “easy” babies and I can’t make him what he is not.
That being said, hubby and I made a big step last night. Since Harry came home, we have tried all sorts of transitional props to get him to sleep somewhere other than in our arms or in our bed. First was the Moses basket. Then, the co-sleeper bassinet. Then the side-car crib. The only one he ever slept in for any amount of time was the basket, and that was before I was working full-time. The side-car crib (taking off the front of the crib and butting the mattress up to the bed) would have been great, if we had done it sooner. However, Harry is already sitting up and getting ready to stand. So, the other day, I read that you could get bed risers for the crib and then lower the crib mattress, so there would be more railing to prevent a fall. We did that only to have the crib fall off the risers in the middle of the night. Luckily, Harry was in the bed. That’s the thing, though. Harry is always in the bed.
Hubby and I have discussed many times how the location of Harry’s sleep was not what bothered us. Co-sleeping is fine and dandy. It is the lack of independent sleep. The fact is that he either needs to be nursed, held, driven or swung to sleep. Or, if I nursed him down in our bed, I have to stay there in order for him to sleep more than 30 minutes. He has never been able to transfer from swing, arms or car seat to the crib or bed without waking and then staying awake. This means we get no time without one of us attached to Harry. Hard times in our house.
So, last night, we got rid of all pretenses and finally admitted where Harry spends the night: in our bed. We took down the side car and put bed rails on our bed. We decided that I would nurse him down in our bed after bath time, when he usually sleeps for about two hours (7-9 PM). Once asleep, I would start trying to slip away from him. If he woke, I’d go and try again. Wash, rinse, repeat until my bed time, which is 10 PM. From there, we would co-sleep. This way, we could move towards getting one stint of independent sleep from him, but still feel rested ourselves by making it at a time when we are still up. Last night, he gave us 30 minutes before he cried and I had to nurse him back down. We will continue working on it.
The thing that got to me was how cathartic it was to get rid of the side car. This was the first time since he was born that there was no transitional sleeping apparatus on my side of the bed. I didn’t realize until it was gone that all of those things were putting a lot of negative pressure on me, reminding me that my baby didn’t sleep “correctly” and it was my fault and that I needed to “fix” him, and the sooner the better. I felt so relieved after we removed it, like I was coming out of denial. It was like a physical weight being lifted from me and I now feel free. Hi, I’m Harry’s Mom and we co-sleep.
The notion that babies should sleep in a crib in their own room is really a 20th century, American idea. We pride ourselves on our independence and frown upon shows of weakness, even from our infants. Harry’s doctor told us to leave him alone and let him cry at night. There are studies now that say this is detrimental to the child. (Not that we ever considered doing it. Harry increases his tension when he cries.) There are studies that show that co-sleeping can be developmentally beneficial. There are studies that show it is normal with primates. Everyone has to do what works for them, and right now, this is working. I feel empowered. I feel confident. I feel relieved to finally have admitted that my child is high needs and I feel satisfied that I am meeting his needs to the best of my ability. I truly hope that my efforts will help nurture his strong personality and strong attachment and make for a confident, happy little boy.