Last night, Katie decided to stay up and play instead of falling asleep. Then, a heartbeat after she fell asleep, she woke up again to practice standing and crawling. Then she woke up to nurse. Shortly after that, she decided that our bed wasn’t comfortable enough, so she slept on my face for a while. Then she woke up to nurse again. When she was finally asleep, I glanced at the clock and realized that it was time for me to get up and start getting ready for work.
This is a regular thing for her. All night acrobatics. Lots of nursing. Plenty of crawl practice. A little talking. She’s so cheerful after the sun goes down!
It’s really hard going to work after nights like this. My job is a customer-facing one, so when I step into the office, I must be prepared to deal with customers with urgent needs. I’ve got to be able to solve their problems, help them feel good about things, and just generally do a lot of hand-holding. And I have to do it nicely. That’s really difficult when I haven’t gotten much sleep.
But really, I think I’m okay with that.
Something I learned when my oldest daughter Gabi was little is that sleep is fleeting. Some nights are great nights. Some nights are harder. Before I discovered attachment parenting, I thought that things would be easier if only she could learn to sleep through the night in her own crib. We never let her cry it out (despite being encouraged by some to do so). That felt so wrong. But I remember trying so hard to get her to go to sleep in her crib. I would nurse her down, try several times to lay her down in the crib and finally succeed only to have her wake a few hours later and I’d trudge down the hall to start the cycle again.
Before too long, I simply gave up and we slept together on a twin mattress on her floor for most of the night. At the time, I didn’t realize that it was cosleeping. All I knew was that we both slept better.
I remember feeling guilty. I felt guilty for nursing her to sleep and for laying with her during the night. Words like “sleep associations” and “bad habit” floated around in my brain. I struggled with the guilt, but I knew that it would be harder without the nursing down and the snuggling on the little mattress.
What a pleasant surprise when, like most children will do, Gabi grew out of her need to nurse to sleep and be held all night long! I didn’t push her. I didn’t “train” her. She was just developmentally ready for it.
That’s why I don’t worry too much when Katie wakes so much to nurse and play and cuddle. It’s why we happily share a bed. I know that she’s hungry. I know that she needs to reconnect with me after being apart all day. I know that some day she will be a leggy little girl who will groan and say, “Oh, Mooooom,” when I ask her if she’s sure she doesn’t want to cuddle at night. I know that wakeful periods just mean that she is growing into a bright and indepentant person.
These days, I don’t keep track of how many times at night my baby wakes. It’s not important. If I need to, I can always fix myself a cup of black tea in the office break room to get through my work day. I usually only drink herbal, so black gives me a kick in the pants!
When people ask me how she’s sleeping, I just smile and say, “She sleeps like a baby.”