Sleep. We all need it, but as parents we depend on our kids to help us get it. Because if they don’t sleep, we don’t sleep. None of my babies were amazing sleepers. They were all even worse at napping. All three of them spent most of their nap times in my arms (or in the car) until they were two years old. Of course I blame myself. With Gabbie, I didn’t know what I was doing. I tried to nurse her on a schedule, but she really needed to nurse more often. She did take a pacifier which helped her somewhat.
Most of the earlier days with Gabbie are a blur in my mind. I had her in our room in her pack and play bassinet, but I spent many nights just waiting for her to wake up – my anxiety about her waking up kept me awake! When she first came home, I didn’t plan to have her sleep with me, but when I would nurse her at night, I would end up falling back asleep with her in bed. So we figured out that sleeping together worked, at least when she was tiny. She did transition to a crib, as did all of my kids, but I don’t remember anything about how we did it! I think I’ve blocked out the memories.
Gabbie started sleeping in a bed when I was pregnant with Zachary and she was almost 2 years old. We started on a trip to Florida, so the transition would be easier when we got back home. She had just started going to sleep easily in her crib, and going to sleep in a bed proved to be hard for her. She used to come out of her bed and stick her fingers underneath her door. She used to call for us and if we didn’t answer, she’d call for the dog. (The coming out of her bed bit lasted until she was at least 6, just getting better recently). Her bed was a mattress on the floor so she wouldn’t fall out. Here is the first time she slept out of a crib or pack and play:
With Zachary, things were easier, because at least I knew how to take care of a baby. I nursed him when he cried, not on a schedule. He also napped poorly, partly because when Gabbie was in preschool he had to come in the car at pick up time and he ended up napping then.
Zachary had an easier time transitioning to a bed than Gabbie did. He was always more adaptable than she had been. He started sleeping in a bed when he was almost 3, I believe. Zachary does occasionally get up from bed after we say goodnight, but the difference between him and Gabbie is that he will tuck himself back in! Sometimes he screams for us if he wants to remind us to wake him up if there’s a tornado (or something else just as pointless) but usually he will just go to the bathroom and go back to bed. During the night, he sometimes yells for more water, which is certainly annoying!
When Simon was a newborn, I slept so well! I took him to bed with me, nursed him when he stirred, and basically slept all night with a sweet baby beside me. Of course, when he got bigger, it became harder. He moved to his crib but still woke up to nurse throughout the night for quite some time. Eventually, Dave had to start going into him at night and eventually he realized nursing during the night was over.
Luckily, Simon is pretty easy to put to bed at night. I rock and nurse him for a few minutes, then put him in his crib. Lately when he finishes nursing he says “I all done Mommy.” Simon has had the same bedtime routine for as long as I can remember! We read all the kids a story together in Zachary’s room (used to be Gabbie’s room but we switched). Then everyone says goodnight to Zachary and I bring Simon to his room and put him to bed. Simon sleeps downstairs while the other sleep upstairs, which is how Zachary ended up going to sleep before Simon. Gabbie now stays up later than the other two. She plays on her ipod or on the computer and reads. This partially started with her difficulty settling down at night and the repeated times she would come out of her room. Thankfully she rarely does this now, only on occasion. The boys go to bed between 7:30 and 7:45 and Gabbie stays up until 8 or a little later depending on the night. She has started to read in bed at night too – just like me. But that makes it harder to control what time she actually turns her light off! Dave usually tucks in Gabbie because by then I’m ready to be done parenting for the day!
Our next sleep stage is going to be moving Simon from a crib to a bed. And after that, I’m sure soon enough it will be time to deal with kids who want to sleep late on school days. What have I learned so far? Each stage is a stage that we can get through. People eventually stop asking you how well your newborn sleeps. We’ll probably never get back to sleeping like we did in high school on the weekends, but when our kids stop waking us up at night because they no longer live with us, we will probably miss them! And by then, I’m sure we’ll be waking ourselves up with whatever old people wake up with nightly!