Riddle: I have a three-month-old baby named Oliver and a nearly-three-year-old toddler named Dominic. One of these children goes down easily and consistently sleeps through the night. Hint: it isn’t Dominic.
The Sleep Report
Sleep is the recurring theme that dominates all baby conversation: nighttime, naptime, interrupted, strategies, routines, soothers, books about, advice on and lack thereof… And since these variations on the theme were the original inspiration for this blog it seemed only fitting that this first post since Oliver is born provides a sleep report!
Oliver sleeps solidly from 9pm to 7am, and it’s not a fluke. He’s been doing this for nearly two weeks, and before that was only waking once a night. I just swaddle him up, plug him with a pacifier, plunk him down, and rock the cradle for a minute. Well, that’s not quite true. Sometimes I skip rocking the cradle if the Olympics are on or I want to sit down to dinner. As Justin says, “This kid doesn’t even make me try!”
I have never once had to hold Oliver until he was 10-minutes deep into sleep; never had to perform a “limp limb” test before gingerly transferring him only to start all over again; never spent nights hopping in and out of bed trying to soothe him back to sleep; never broken down in tears over a cold supper at 11pm; never had to count to 200 while trying to slow my heartbeat to the pace of a great white shark, nor any of the other craziness we had to do to help Dominic sleep. And thank goodness, because we’re still bending over backwards to accommodate Dom’s sleep needs!
Whatever It Takes
These days Justin and I are at the mercy of Dominic’s refusal to nap at home on weekends despite the fact that he naps every week day at daycare. Since he will fall asleep on a drive, every Saturday and Sunday we conjure up two hours’ worth of errands to run so that one of us can stay in the car while the other pops in and out at Canadian Tire and Loblaw’s.
Over the Christmas holidays various friends and their kids came to stay with us at our chalet, and it was deeply reassuring to witness first hand what other parents will do to get their kids to sleep.
One evening all the adults had our aperitif to the serenade of a toddler screaming it out upstairs. On another we sat down with friends to a filet mignon dinner while their two-year old spun out in the living room until finally passing out, sprawled at the foot of the staircase. Later that night three dads met on the landing at five in the morning, each responding to respective kiddo needs including bad-dream wailing, warm-milk whining and pee-pee-trip whimpering.
The great thing about friends with toddlers is that there is no judgment – just tacit acknowledgment that everybody does whatever it takes. We’ll all be happier if our kid sleeps, and frankly we’ll be happier if yours does, too.
Don’t Wake a Sleeping Baby!
All those questions that plagued me the first time around seem so trivial now. Is it bad to nurse the baby to sleep? Has he been sleeping too long? Should I wake him to feed? Are we instilling bad sleep habits? Are we teaching him to self-soothe? Baby Center says we should have introduced a night routine by now. Did we put him down sleepy but awake? When is it that they go from “you can’t spoil a baby” to “you’re spoiling them”?
Wrestling with those questions were the subjects of many blog posts. Now that I have a baby who actually sleeps, I wonder, dear Readers, while I waxed on about the challenges of getting Dominic to sleep, did you have any idea what I was talking about? Or were you just playing along while your own babies slept? Either way, I thank you for your indulgence.
Now I know the answer to all those questions is, “WHO CARES?”. As long as baby sleeps it’s all good! And I’m fully confident he’ll wake up to let me know he’s hungry before he starves to death. Between no work stress, no pregnancy insomnia, no night feedings, and not being tormented by whether or not I should wake the baby, I haven’t slept this well in years.
What’s Different Now?
They say every baby’s different. They say mum is calmer the second time around therefore baby is calmer. I say it’s because the universe knows it owes me this baby.
Seriously, if I had to pin it down to one thing, I’d say the major difference this time around is that now I know babies need to be made to sleep! With Dominic, I thought babies just needed to be fed and would take care of the sleep part themselves, nodding off where and when they needed to. That works for approximately the first three days of life and then… not so! Turns out that not only do you need to make babies sleep, you need to ensure they never go more than two hours awake!
Knowing and implementing the E.A.S.Y (Eat-Activity-Sleep-You) cycle from the minute Oliver was born has made all the difference between having a well-rested, predictable, happy, easy baby and–say–Dominic.
Although things have been significantly easier the second time around, it has taken me over three months to sit down and write this post, whereas I pumped out my first post-partum post in 6 weeks after Dom was born. Looking back at that post, I realize the biggest difference is me after all. The paltry revelations I had discovered then and was so eager to share seem so basic now, I wonder how I was even allowed to leave the hospital with a dependent baby human.
And it’s true, my confidence has grown. In that early post I was timid and afraid of sounding presumptuous. These days I’ve got tips for anyone who will listen. Need some input? Craving more advice than you’re already getting from your older sister and mother-in-law? Give me a call! I’ve got lots to go ‘round.