This is not a problem

This week, I posted on Facebook about a miracle: Mac slept for 2.5 hours after going to bed, with nary a squawk or a scream.

I hesitated before hitting publish on that post, because I anticipated that the collective internet would rise up with well-intentioned advice about how to get my 15 month old to sleep through the night. Or, you know, longer than the hour that is her usual cycle.

I’ve asked for sleep advice on Facebook before, and the internet was generous with its response. Mac was 8 months at that point—nearly half a lifetime ago!—and I felt that I had reached the end of my zombie rope. Little did I know I had at least another half lifetime in me of boobin’ all night.

In the last 7 months, we’ve tried all the things.* Our sleep book collection puts the Library of Congress to shame. We’ve cued and we’ve charted and we’ve shuffled. We’ve A/B tested lighting and sound and pajamas and beds and bed company and the number of books we read and the content of meals and the timing of baths.  We’ve done craniosacral therapy and we’ve night weaned and we’ve made her do hill sprints before bed.

And the results of all that study and research?

On an average night, my toddler wakes up 4-5 times before I go to bed.

Sweaty sleep hair is the cutest.

And I mean really wakes up. I’m not talking about little baby noises or the rolling over or the resettling. This count doesn’t include the times she self-settles. This is the number of times she sits and screams and needs some kind of parental intervention before midnight. After midnight, believe it or not, it gets better, or I’m just so zombie-like that I think it’s better. But it’s at least 3-4 more wake ups, usually to nurse, but sometimes just for a snuggle, before she gets up for the day.

Anyway, the point of all this is this: I spent months scouring the internet for proof that what we were experiencing was normal.

What I found were 10 week olds who slept from 8pm-6am. I found parents lamenting that their 3 month old still got up at 3am to feed, sometimes, but that they were solving that problem ASAP. Parents scolded each other for any night nursing, because babies don’t need that after [insert age of choice here].

I’m done wanting to throat punch those people, and more importantly, I’m done feeling inadequate.

I’m done thinking that her sleep is a problem to be fixed. She wakes up a lot and I’m tired a lot and she’s a happy kid and I drink a lot of coffee and this is where we are. If frequent night wakings are our great challenge then I count myself lucky.

My local coffee shop is also reaping the benefits, since I’m singlehandedly keeping them in business.

And the real reason I’m sharing this is because of that Facebook post I mentioned at the beginning. I did not get the advice I was expecting. Instead, I got solidarity, from fellow parents who are also not living up to the insane internet standards of baby sleep. So I’m coming out of the closet as a person who stays up all night with their toddler.

If you’re reading this, and you’re in the same boat, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

* The one thing we haven’t tried is any version of Cry it Out. Friends assure it me works; their lovely children assure me kids come through the other end happy and healthy. It just doesn’t feel like the right course for us. 

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6 Replies to “This is not a problem”

  1. I’m toasting a mug of coffee to you in solidarity. And I have to believe that our time will come…ideally in the form of well-behaved teens?! There has to be some kind of parenting karma to even everything out, right? RIGHT??!

  2. Girl I so feel ya! Ayden was a great sleeper after 5 months. Jax, still wakes at least once a night. Everyone keeps telling us to just sleep train him but in all honesty, I’m fine with waking up to feed him or comfort him back to sleep for now 🙂 They grow so fast a few months or even years of interrupted sleep will be forgotten before you know it. Hang in there mama and just keep drinking coffee 🙂

  3. Awesome post and I love your commitment to not going the CIO route in desperation. I’m a firm believer in offering comfort when a child needs it. 31 months of multiple night wakings for us. My child has severe allergy and eczema problems that are to blame for his incessant wakings . Either way, you’re definitely not alone in this.
    Plus, I heard somewhere that coffee was good for us.

  4. I’m right there with you! My almost 13 month old wakes up several times a night, still needs a night feed (gasp!), needs to rocked A LOT, etc. And after reading and seeking advice, trying tons of different “sleep training methods”, we have come to realize that’s just where he is. He’s happy, healthy, growing and doesn’t sleep all that well. And we adults can have some extra caffeine until he starts sleeping better!

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