Do they sleep through the night?
How often are you up with them at night time?
The sleep question is one of the most common from friends without babies, and a few with children of their own.
Before L arrived J's biggest fear was how he would cope with sleep deprivation. He is like your worst toddler who has missed his lunchtime nap when tired. He also works long hours and is responsible for a large team. They need him on top form and not being a grumpus.
I, like nearly all pregnant women, slept awfully for most of my third trimester. Life's cruel way of preparing you for the wakeful nights to come. I have always been better on no sleep than J and as an early riser it doesn't matter what time I go to bed I will wake at 6.30.
Then L arrived. Her midnight arrival meant for her first night she slept. 24 hours later she was very much awake and attached to my boob or screaming prompting a very unhelpful midwife to suggest formula would keep her quiet and a very helpful fellow mum in my side room helping me swaddle L. A sign of things to come. And a sign of the importance placed on sleep even for a one day old.
Right from the earliest days during the night I would feed L and put her straight back in her crib. No talking no funs no extra cuddles (unless seriously fussing and needing to co sleep but we only did this twice). I would leave her full of milk and contented in her crib to go back to sleep. She rarely needed the dummy at these times and it remains the same. I wanted her to learn as quickly as possible that nighttime was not funtime. For the most part I think it has worked.
Sleep seems to be on the pedestal of parental achievement. If your baby sleeps through you have cracked it and reached parental nirvana. It made me overly aware of sleep and to really stress about sleep habits and routines from the earliest days. I was more worried about sleep than her erratic feeding patterns, weight gain or developmental milestones. At my weekly mums meet up we all talk about how our baby is sleeping with envious looks at the wonder sleeper and sympathy for the mum of the terrible sleeper.
I think this sleep stress made me rush to use a dummy as it quickly got her to that golden goal. Slumberland. I also wonder if she picked up on my sleep based stress. I was all to aware at wakeful times during the night that L would wake J and this in turn would affect his work and his mood.
We now have a set bedtime routine. Quiet time and stories, bath, sometimes massage, feed and then in cot awake with dummy. She generally goes off well and her night waking's are lessening and her night feed decreasing. She does wake for the dummy sometimes and this needs addressing.
L is nearly 5 months old. This is all pretty average. She isn't a wonder sleeper and she isn't a terrible sleeper. She is average. We have arrived here mostly through accidental parenting. By following her and having a few bedtime and night feed rules.
So it is going in the right direction yet I still feel pressure to get her through the night. I still stress and read and worry about it the most. I ask countless people for advice and insights, I ask for peoples sleep secrets hoping that one of them will be the answer for L and us and she will get the long restorative sleep she needs after a busy day rolling and growing.
Can we ever take sleep down from the parenting pedestal? Should we take it down? Or have I just overly analysed sleep and now worry about it too much?