It was no secret that my little one was not a good sleeper. I couldn’t have kept it a secret if I’d wanted to; the bags under my eyes outed me the minute I staggered out the door. (Concealer is great, but it’s not a magic wand.) He is worlds better now, usually sleeping about twelve hours a night without interruption (see that light at the end of the tunnel, mamas of terrible sleepers? It’s there!).
But since he still has that reputation as a non-sleeper, I still hear from people about how they plan to sleep-train, and I just love the way they say it. “Well, I’ll leave the TV on.” “I’ll vacuum while the baby is asleep.” “I’ll make sure that he’s used to noise so that he becomes a good sleeper.” Well, God go with you, sister. Because I did those things (not the vacuum thing really, but that’s simply because I don’t like to vacuum), and sometimes babies are just babies and sometimes babies aren’t great at sleeping no matter what you do. I wish those new mamas well, because having a baby is really hard, and having a baby that doesn’t sleep through the dog barking at the mailman just makes it
a thousand times a million times infinitely harder.
But I would also like to point out something—I didn’t make my baby a “bad sleeper.”
There are so many contributing factors to sleeplessness in babies. Tummy issues due to a lurking dairy allergy happened to be one of our big issues, and teething also caused us problems. But beyond those issues, Jacob has also always been acutely aware of the world around him. If something stirs him enough to wake, he is interested enough to not want to go back to sleep, no matter what time it is.
I’m not writing right now to offer much in the way of advice, but if we saw each other, I’d give you the rueful half smile and understanding nod—you know the one. If you want advice, go to Google; you’ll certainly find some resources on getting your baby to sleep, and some of them may even work.
Here’s what I’ve got for you:
• You’re going to make it through this.
• It’s not your fault.
• Babies are needy little things, and sometimes they need you to sit/sway/rock/dance/cry with them for a while.
• You are a good mother.
• You really are going to make it through this.
I received a sign at one of my baby showers that says, “Sleeping baby and protective dog. Please do not knock or ring door bell.” I’ve taken to putting that sign out every time I put the baby down for a nap. I feel like it’s a nice alternative to me resenting the neighbors and every delivery person assigned to my house. If you’ve also found yourself at wits’ end, we at MC have made a free printable version for you (with a PDF at the end of the post as well). Just put it in a frame and set it out whenever the sleepless-wonder goes down for a “nap.” (Or leave it out all the time and never have to deal with neighbors again!)
So go ahead and turn on that vacuum; your rugs will thank you! However, if the baby keeps waking up, don’t blame yourself.
Free download: Sleeping Baby Sign