Being a mom has really just opened my eyes to all these crazy topics of discussion that I previously had no clue about. Like breast vs bottle, vaccinate or not (VACCINATE. For goodness sake…vaccinate your children), and other assorted controversial-for-some-reason topics related to rearing children and being a mother.
Today I though I’d weight in on one of the topics I find fascinating, which is co-sleeping and/or sleep training.
Personally, we chose not to co-sleep. I have a horrible time sleeping on my own, let alone with an extra person in our bed. I knew that once we took a walk down that co-sleeping road, there would be no turning back. I admire the fact that some people make it work, and are still able to have intimate ‘mommy and daddy’ time, get a good night’s sleep, and have a happy baby. But we were and are not those people.
This is not to say I have never shared my bed with my baby. Throughout Ginny’s entire first month of life, her crib remained empty. She always slept either in someone’s arms, in her stroller, or in our bed. Most of the time though, someone was holding her. My mom and dad and brother came out to see us for a few weeks when Ginny was born and it was amazing. Between my parents, and Bryan’s parents (who lived upstairs), Bryan, Phil, and myself, Ginny had no shortage of loving people to give her cuddles. The nights when she slept between Bryan and myself were precious indeed, and I will forever treasure holding that warm bundle next to me and smelling her sweet head and being woken by her little grunty noises and wee toots. The nights she slept in my arms, resting in the nest of my curved pillow, as I dozed sitting up after night feedings while watching Beverly Hills 90210, are some of my favourites of the early memories of her life.
As our Piggy got older, however, it was clear that we would not be allowing her to sleep in our bed on a regular basis. She is a FIDGET, my goodness gracious. And that in combination with my poor sleeping skills and the fact that I am also a fidget, wasn’t great. Because Bryan had 9 months off of work when Ginny was born, we did not start any serious sleep training right away. Bryan and I did shift work with the baby, me staying up at night to watch her (and beat Lego Lord of the Rings 100%, boo ya), and Bryan taking her during the day. There were a few hours between each shift in which all three of us had time to hang together, but this system worked incredibly well for us. Then, when Ginny was around 10 months, we moved to our own place (finally), and when she hit about a year old, we started the sleep training for realsies.
It was hard at first, obviously. When your baby cries in the night, you want to go to her. You want to pick her up and cuddle her and kiss her and give her whatever she wants. Because I’m not the type of parent who is tethered to my child, I didn’t find it tortuous to try letting her ‘cry it out’. Some people are 100% against this method. I am not one of those people. The first night we let her cry it out, it was obviously hard. Her little cries were heartbreaking. But after 7 or 8 minutes of letting her cry, she soothed herself back to sleep and all was well. A couple hours later though, she woke us with her crying again. This time, however, there was something different. In that first night, for the first time since she was born, I was able to finally tell the difference between a ‘fake’ or ‘fussy’ cry, and a real cry. And so I got up out of bed, gave her a diaper change and a bottle, and she went back to sleep for the rest of the night. Learning the difference between her cries was pivotal, and remains that way to this day. Ginny likes to manipulate us sometimes, but it is now obvious when it’s just that and not her actually needing something. 80% of the time she sleeps through the night. She has off weeks or days where she wakes up at least once, but 9 times of of 10, all she needs is to be tucked in again. That 10th time though…that makes for one helluva night. We won’t go into temper tantrums today though.
To sum things up…sleep training worked great for us. We have a child who is not scared of the dark, who is happy to sleep in a big girl bed in her own room with the door closed, and who lets us get rest at night. I have to say though, I miss those very early days of snuggles with my warm baby, and I look forward to the day when she isn’t so nosy and can actually settle down to have a nap with my in my bed once in a while. Sleep training is our jam. But if co-sleeping is yours, then that’s cool too.