Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sleeping through the night

I write about sleeping through the night. A lot. Namely the whole not sleeping through the night. I had a few good stretches to be sure, even two days of seven hour stretches which were delicious and savory like a flaky croissant with a creamy chocolate center straight from a Parisian bakery. But the thing with baked goods is, particularly of the Parisian variety, they create cravings for more. And I wanted more. I wasn't happy with the measly five hour stretches he gave me though technically my doctor told me this was considered sleeping through the night. Well, I would give anything for those five hour stretches now that little guy wakes every two to three hours all night long like clockwork. And its not the grumpy rumbles of discontent of nights past, now its angry shrieks of OMG GET UP AND FEED ME RIGHT NOW!! GAH!

So what does Aisha do in the face of a perplexing dilemma? She looks up every book ever written on the subject of sleep and requests it for hold at the library so she can devour them all. [I do this with everything. The librarians know more about me and my challenges, hopes and dreams based simply on my book renewals than perhaps anyone else. Which makes it sometimes awkward for me when I chat with them since they know my first and last name without my even having to tell them who I am]. I had hoped the books would enlighten me but instead, they confound me. One book suggested I let him cry it out when he wails in the middle of the night, another suggested I comfort him as soon as he releases a whimper. All books hailed their views as the absolute view with dire consequences such as psychiatric issues and insecure adulthoods if I failed to adhere to their line of thought.

Reading through the books did help me reach one conclusion: I'm done reading books of the parenting variety. While they do provide useful information at the end of the day, I am his mother and I do have instincts that tell me what I should do. As a first time parent I tend to bury my instincts and try turning to 'experts' because everything feels bewildering and I can't possibly know what I'm doing, except that I'm coming to realize that I am an expert when it comes to my child. Not an infallible experts since much of what I learn is by trial and error, but I'm getting a PhD in Waleed day by day, something no one else can claim to have.

So I've decided instead of changing him, I'm going to change myself because I cannot and will not let him cry it out. At least not yet.  When he cries the cause is real and serious from his POV. I know when I cry over things real and serious, the thing I want most in this world is someone to comfort me. If he cries he needs to believe I will be there for him. I know fabulous parents who do the cry it out method and say it works, and that's great, but its not something I can do at least right now.

So I'm changing my perspective. Nursing babies tend to sleep for shorter durations before they get hungry again. Everytime he wakes up, though it exhausts me, it also tells me that he's alive and well, something I never take for granted. And these night wakings, as permanent as they may seem in my life right now, they will pass. I will get my sleep back one day, but he will never be this little again. Each day I hold him is the smallest most babiest I'll ever see him ever again. So instead of focusing on my darkened eyes, I will focus on these blessings and take each day one day at a time.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love this post Aisha. When my niece was born she never cried, just whimpered. Apart from that she seemed fine. Eleven days later she didn't exist. It turned out that her heart was too weak so she never had the strength to do anything but whimper.

Sorry to depress you but I just wanted to say that there is nothing more beautiful than a baby crying out for it's mother.

The Muslim Wife's Kitchen said...

Ah, I'm in tears! Happy tears, sad tears, all of it! So happy for your little guy and what an amazing Momma he has, masha'allah. So sad at the memories of my 'baby' who'll be 3 in two weeks (and cue the water works!) insha'allah. The same baby who nearly drove me off a cliff with her ever-changing sleep routines. The same baby that had me changing up sleep methods on a weekly basis (co-sleeping, ferber, sleep lady, blah blah blah). The same baby I swaddled, rocked and fed all night just so she wouldn't shed on more precious tear. And now here she is, too big and way too mature to be held for more than a quick moment, much less a rock to sleep. You're so incredibly strong and wise beyond your years to recognize these sleepless nights of yours as a blessing, because no matter how many times you hear it and try to prepare for it, it really will be over in a blink of an eye. But let me end on a happier note...did I mention how happy I am for you?! :)

Anonymous said...

Sniff. Nice post. As usual.

Anonymous said...

My daughter kept waking up 2+ times a night the whole time I breastfed her (until 20 months). I too did not have the heart to let her cry it out.

Jessica said...

I found your blog linked from another blog and I want to thank you for this post. The timing is perfect. I have two beautiful 15 week old boys and though I'm not struggling with night time sleep (yet?) I am struggling with day time sleep. I've read the books and am tired of feeling bad for holding them while they nap, or baby wearing them for naps. The 3 of us are very attached and my boys are really happy. I do feel like I'd like a little time during the day for laundry or cooking, but I'm going to get rid of the books and figure something out that works for us. Thanks for putting what I'm feeling into words. Congratulations!

Aisha said...

Anon- how heartbreaking. I am so sorry for your family for this loss. . . there are no words for how heart wrenching that was for your family. thank you for giving me perspective.

MW- Thanks so much for your kind words! Can't believe your babies have gotten so big mash'Allah. Can't wait to see them one of these days soon. luv ya sis :)

Anon, thanks :)

Anon, wow, two times a night for 20 months?? Wow. Did you try any of the books like "No cry sleep solution?" Did they simply not work? I was hoping that once he was on solids it would get easier and he'd sleep longer.

Jessica- I'm so glad it provided you with reassurance. Yeah, we really do need to trust ourselves. Yeah, laundry, cooking are awesome to do but like ou said the kids come first, and you have to do what oyu have to do, they'll be just fine despite what books might say!

Anonymous said...

I'm the anon from August 24 at 1:34 pm. The thing is with my daughter--like a lot of breastfed babies--is that she relied upon breastfeeding more than food. Now, I know some people who wean a kid off at night and just breastfeed during the day. But I did not want to let her cry it out. I may have tried letting her fuss a little, etc, but that didn't work. So, I just gave up and got used to the idea that she would continue to wake up as long as I was breastfeeding her. And, indeed, after I weaned her, she started sleeping through the night. Now, of course, when you breastfeed a child past a year, they get very attached and it’s just a comfort thing for them (like a pacifier is for kids who get used to that).

--Rasha

nadia said...

My daughter is 11months and she just started sleeping through the night at 10.5months.
The first few months were very hard on me. I'm a woman who loves her sleep and I'm not very nice without it. And while I knew how precious those days were they were incredibly tough on my emotional state. I breastfeed my daughter and of course she would feed for hours and be up several times a night.
I kept thinking it will be better when she starts solids. But no they made no difference. Yes couple of times she would sleep 7hours and I would be over the moon. But mostly it would be 5 and under. And it would make me so mad when people would tell me that that is STTN. No it isn't;sleeping through the night is more than 5hours!!!!
Then she went through a phase (that lasted 3MONTHS!) where she wouldn't sleep for more than an hour at a time and breastfeeding would be the only thing to calm her. I put it to teething and tried everything. Nothing worked. Even now at 11months we have no teeth.

I was frustrated, angry and just so tired. I read up on sleep training and grabbed every single book dealing with sleep. I must admit that while I tired a couple of the methods-like PUPD and cry-it out I just couldn't go all the way. Listening to my daughter cry for 30minutes during the one and only cry out session left me crying for over 2hours.
Finally I just decided to go with the flow. 'She'll sleep when she wants to sleep'. That was the best decision I ever made. I stopped counting hours and just started enjoying myself. One slight change I did make was not to let her continue falling asleep on the breast. I believe that was the key to STTN as she learned that she doesn't need to solely rely on the breast to help her sleep.

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