Sleep: a year (+) in review

We never wanted to co-sleep. We initially bought a sidecar sleeper for our bed, and put it on A’s side in the beginning, with the hopes that she would be the first line of defense for night wakings in the early weeks, and then hoping to share more of the duties once breastfeeding was established and he was taking bottles. (We never planned on equal sharing of the night wakings, since I was to be the primary caregiver and A needed to continue to work during the day. You know, for money.) This worked for the first few weeks, but it soon became apparent that night feedings were never going to be given with bottles (he hated them, refused them altogether for months, and never took any comfort from them); likewise, the fact that he never took a pacifier meant that my chestal region was a necessary component of most early wakings.

Even so, we held strong with our mantra: The baby is not invited into our bed. Except for naps. Who doesn’t love a good family nap when you can get one?

By 11 weeks, he was sleeping so terribly after we came to bed that we decided to try him out in his crib in his own room (next door to ours). It was earlier than we’d planned on making that switch, but were hoping that we’d all sleep better that way. And we did. But when, at 3.5 months or so, the zunzun slept his first nine hour stretch, my body immediately relinquished its ability to get up and deal with him in the night. Or at least, to do so without waking me up all the way and making it very hard for me to get back to sleep once he was.

That’s when we became accidental co-sleepers.

I realized not very long ago that when we say that the zunzun has always been a good sleeper, it’s all relative. True, nearly every night of his life he’s had a stretch of 4-5 hours of sleep. But we never sleep trained him (successfully, anyway: see attempts at CIO circa Christmas 2012), and he had multiple night wakings until only a couple of months ago.

Our concession, beginning at 3.5 months, was that he came into our bed at his first night-waking post-our bedtime. Which gradually meant that we went to bed whenever his night waking closest to our normal bedtime occurred.

And you know what? It was mostly fine. We found that we liked the snuggles, could abide the sometimes rough nights, and loved waking up as a family.

We still do.

It is no longer pleasant, though, on the odd night when the zunzun finds his way into our bed for most of the night. It basically relegates me to boob buffet and poor A to footrest-face. Nobody sleeps well.

But it also bums us out if he goes too many nights in a row sleeping all the way til morning in his crib. Our favorites these days are the nights when he comes into our bed at 5:30-6am (later than that and he won’t really go back to sleep), snuggles in to nurse and sprawl with his guys, and sleeps with us til 7, 7:30, sometimes even 8. Then we all wake up together, refreshed and jolly, happy to give and receive raspberries, make and take pretend phone calls, and play all of the other little games we’ve taken to playing in the morning bed.

Ideally, we’d like to have the zunzun falling asleep on his own, if only for naps (I think we both still like rocking him to sleep at night, having some quiet time and snugs). But for now, we’re feeling okay about where things are at.

Sleep is the one thing I think I’d really try to do differently if there’s a next baby. Like that lying down drowsy thing? Or maybe even sleep training at an age when they’re less likely to be the moststubborninthewholeworld. We also know it’s unlikely that we’ll have a baby with the same temperament twice, so who knows. Making plans and all that…

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4 thoughts on “Sleep: a year (+) in review

  1. if it makes you feel any better that go to sleep drowsy thing is only good for a little while. Edie used to be the poster child for a swaddled, sleepy-but-awake baby who went to sleep like a little angel with no more than a peep. It was so beautiful. Now she’s a screaming meanie unless we rock her to sleep every time. My only consolation is that she doesn’t have to be nursed to sleep every time, but it’s still a huge pain in the ass to rock her until she konks out.

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