Everyone wants to know: “Is he sleeping through the night yet?” I dread this question. It seems like an innocent thing to ask, but it’s a sore subject for many moms, like me.
Some parents are lucky. Their baby sleeps 10-14 hours every night. I don’t hate those moms. I’m happy for them! I hate this question because it doesn’t tell you anything about the baby’s wellbeing. People associate good sleeping with a happy baby. That’s just not true.
I try to tell myself people aren’t judging my parenting ability by the length of time my baby sleeps, but sometimes those thoughts creep into my head. I have a happy baby, but Leigh has never been a good sleeper. He was a strict 30-minute napper for the longest time. At 8-months-old, he naps anywhere from 30-90 minutes at least twice a day. At night, Leigh wakes up anywhere from two to ten times. Every day and night is different. He never repeats the same schedule.
We’ve gone through all stages of sleeping. He started out in his crib. Then I felt like he was too far from me at night, so he moved to a rock ‘n play beside our bed. Eventually, I got tired of getting up to nurse him throughout the night and brought him into our bed. After a few months of co-sleeping, Leigh moved back to his crib after I realized we were both getting less sleep side-by-side because we didn’t have our own space.
Now, Leigh sleeps in his own room and when he wakes up, he starts making little cooing noises or babbling to himself. It’s amazing how my ears are tuned in to hear those little sounds. I wake up, find my way down the hall trying not to trip over a dog, and peer over the crib. I can see the outline of a smile form across his face when he sees me. That happy moment of recognition fuels my nights. We nurse together in his room until he falls back to sleep. My favorite part is watching him smile in his sleep. When I put him back in his crib, he rolls on to his side and lets out a sigh. The whole routine takes about 20 minutes and I’m back to bed.
My baby may not sleep through the night, but those extra hours with him while everyone else is sleeping are special to me. I think I’m a better mom because of it. It’s prime cuddle time. He’s completely focused on finding comfort and drifting back to sleep. My body has adapted to sleeping four-hour or less stretches the past eight months.
So, no, my baby doesn’t sleep through the night and I don’t know when he will start, but I know eventually, it will happen. On bad days, I remind myself that when he’s older, I’ll be pulling at his feet to get out of bed. These nights won’t last forever.
And if they do, I’ll go with my new mantra, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”