I’m Ready, Mama – Independent Sleep

Cricket and I have co-slept from the beginning, and I’ve heard it all.

“You’ll never get her out of your bed.”

“You have to teach her to self-soothe.”

“She’s never going to sleep on her own.”

Yes, Cricket is four. She sleeps in a double bed in her room, and I sleep with her. I’ve heard all of the co-sleeping criticisms multiple times. I’ve been told over and over that I’ve ruined her ability to sleep.

But here’s the thing. I didn’t. And I can say that, not with a defensive glare, but with a serene smile, because here’s the truth, the honest truth:

Sleep is a developmental milestone. When a child is ready to fall asleep on their own, they will.

Sure, the AP books all say this, but it’s hard to believe when what seems like the entire world tries to convince you that sleep training is a necessity.

But it’s not just the books that say they will sleep on their own when they are ready. I’ve seen it with my own eyes with both children.

I nursed both of my babies to sleep every single night from the time they were born. Then, one day, at around 18 months, nursing stopped helping them fall asleep. They still nursed before bed, but it didn’t put them to sleep. After a strange and confusing week, both of my girls learned to nurse, lay down beside Mama, and fall asleep. On their own. There was never a need to teach self-soothing, whatever that is supposed to mean. No need to “train” them to sleep. They were ready. They knew sleep time was a time of comfort and peace, so they were able to lay down knowing they were safe and comforted.

But wait, some folks might say. You’re still sleeping in bed with them! How’s that going to work out?

With the Grasshopper, I got Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I never got the chance to find out whether she would be able to learn to sleep on her own because the sickness took away my night time parenting abilities. With Cricket, though, we’ve been able to go at her pace, and while I sometimes doubted, my trust in her ability to know when she was ready has paid off.

A few weeks ago, we were in the car coming home from the grocery store (because all big conversations seem to happen in the car), and Cricket announced that she wanted to fall asleep like a big girl. It was completely out of the blue. We were listening to the Frozen soundtrack and she just piped up with, “Mama, I’m ready to go to sleep like a big girl now.”

And she was. She likes patterns, so we do a pattern. Every other night, I tuck her in, kiss her head, and say goodnight. And that’s it. No training. No tears. She just closes her eyes and goes to sleep. She knows that if she needs me, I will come to her immediately, so she feels safe trusting that Mama will be right there.

To all the tired mamas out there, keep the faith. Trust your kids. They will get there. It’s hard sometimes, I know. Cricket used to wake hourly in the night some times. But it’s not a forever thing. It will pass. Cuddle those babies. It’s what they need.

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Lack of Sleep + Pregnancy = Unhappiness

I’ve posted a few times about overdoing things and being punished by my body for it later on.  Usually this is because I’ve gotten involved in something I enjoy and I just want to keep going.  Some examples include my sister’s graduation from UCLA followed by a visit to the La Brea Tar Pits, Farmer’s Market followed by housecleaning followed by having 20 people over for a barbecue, and shopping all day for new clothes for the Grasshopper.  In all of these cases, I was just having so much fun that I didn’t want to stop.  And I paid for it the next day.  In fact, following that ill-fated barbecue, I was laid up for several days.  It was bad news.

Well, I’ve done it again, except this time, it’s not my fault!  I swear!

Last night, after putting sweet Grasshopper to bed and going to be myself, I woke up to the second most dreaded night-time noise: the sound of our 7-year-old boxer throwing up in our bathroom.

Our carpeted bathroom.

(Yeah, I know.  Carpeted bathrooms are disgusting.  We completely agree.  The house came that way, and we haven’t gotten the chance to make the change.  If you want to volunteer to cut and lay the tile, we’ll pay you with hugs and yummy South American cooking.)

For those paying attention, you’ll notice that this is only the second most dreaded night-time noise.  The first most dreaded nighttime noise is the sound of dog pee hitting the carpet.  She’s seven.  She’s had bladder issues since we got her.  She’s pretty good about it usually, but sometimes she forgets to ask and lets loose on the rug.

For Sale:  Dog.  Real cheap.

I’m kidding.

Sort of.

At any rate, at 2 o’clock this morning, I awoke to the “HORK HORK HORK” sound of my dog barfing on the rug.  Normally, I would let my husband handle it since a good, solid block of sleep is pretty critical to me to help avoid hyperemesis gravidarum punishment later on.  Last night, though, he wasn’t here, so the middle of the night puke patrol fell to me.

So I hauled my sorry carcass out of bed and walked downstairs to let her out.  She went right out the back door, turned around and looked at me.

It was a stand-off.

She obviously didn’t feel like throwing up anymore, and I didn’t want to let her in until she finished whatever it was she needed to finish.  Eventually, I relented and let her back in.  I grabbed the roll of paper towels and a plastic bag and headed upstairs to clean the mess.  The last thing I wanted to do was wake up to a room that smelled like dog barf.  Imagine?  My smell issues and dog puke stink?  Just kill me now please.

Thankfully, when I flipped on the bathroom light, I discovered that she had not, in fact, thrown up.  Thank heaven for small mercies.

So I went to bed to try to go  to sleep.  I even played my Hypnobabies “Deepening” hypnosis track.  For once, in my entire life, I did not fall asleep during a hypnobabies track.

Then, at 3:25 AM, “HORK HORK HORK!”  Oh, good gravy.  Really?

So up I got to let her out and again we had a standoff.

By this time, I had wised up.  I told the dog to lay down on her downstairs bed.  I figured, hey, if she pukes on the carpet, she pukes on the carpet.  I’ll worry about it later.  Then I shut my door and turned on the white noise machine.  Then I went to bed again.  And again tried-and failed!-to go to sleep.  This time I tried the Hypnobabies “Joyful Pregnancy Affirmations” track.  No luck.

At 4:15 AM, just after I managed to drift off to sleep, I hear a muffled “hork hork hork hooooooork” drifting up the stairs.  I tried to tune it out.  I really did.  There is just something about that sound, though, that is just hardwired into my brain to wake me up completely and put me on edge.

I finally managed to drift off into a light cat nap.

6:15 AM.  Dog nose in my face telling me that it’s time to wake up fill the food dish.  Much cursing and grumbling ensues.

The good:  She never did actually throw up.  She just made a racket all night.

The bad news: I got almost no sleep during the latter half of the night.

What does this mean for my hyperemesis gravidarum?  That remains to be seen.  This morning, I actually seemed to be doing okay.  I did hop on the caffeine bus with a big cup of green tea in the morning and a glass of iced tea at lunch, but I can feel the exhaustion kicking in.

I am preparing myself for some pretty serious unpleasantness this evening.

Thank goodness for cold, leftover pizza and Yo Gabba Gabba.  They will be my saving grace tonight.