Sleep. The word sounds so sweet and simple. It conjures up images of moons, stars, and snoring babies...
When my daughter Lena was born in 2012, we spent a few days in the hospital, then happily brought her home. Keenly focused on trying to figure out how the heck to breastfeed, the whole topic of sleep completely missed our radar. It didn’t miss anyone else's. During those first few weeks of her squishy little life we had so many people asking wistfully how she was sleeping. At first we answered in dismay that she was “only” sleeping for 4-5 hours at a time. By 2 months she was sleeping from 9pm-5am. Some friends didn’t understand that phenomenon. She was exclusively breastfed. How could she possibly be sleeping through the night so early on?
My husband and I thought we were really stellar parents. We must have been doing something spectacularly for our newborn to be sleeping for such long stretches. Yes, that was the answer: we were superhero parents, doing everything right, while the rest of the world was doing in woefully wrong. She’d go through phases of sleep regression, but was always what others determined “a good sleeper”. When random strangers would approach me at Target, marvelling at my lovely baby, they would often ask the usual questions that invariably began with, “Does she sleep through the night.” More than once my husband and I noted that these complete strangers would look almost disappointed when we divulged that she did in fact sleep and was an “easy baby” (whatever that meant). We didn’t really understand what the big deal was. Why would a complete strangers be slightly disappointed that our kid slept?
But oh, I know why now: because their kids didn’t sleep! They wanted us to suffer just like they did, just like eons of parents have throughout time! And our starry-eyed, blissful unicorn baby really put a damper on their wishes. We were smug in our new parent sleeping expertise. We knew how it was done: you simply nurse your baby and place them gingerly into their bassinet next to your bedside. You did NOT co-sleep. I mean, the pediatrician practically gave me a high five when I confirmed that GOD no, we didn’t co-sleep! That was for serious hippies and people who never wanted to have sex with their partner again! We would NEVER dream of co-sleeping. We didn’t need to….
Until Ben, our second baby, was born.
Ben was our carefully planned baby. My husband had a great job, we were crazy about each other and our little girl, so of course we’d have a second baby! He’d arrive on time (or 3 weeks late), nurse perfectly (or be just as hard to figure out as the first kid), and sleep through the night, just like our other unicorn baby. And he did for the first month or two. He slept 4-5 hours like his big sister and for a brief moment in time we really thought we had hit the jackpot of parenting: kids who slept through the night.
....to be continued.
Hi. I'm Lindsay. Daughter, sister, wife, mother and collector of useless (and useful) information.