When I was pregnant, people couldn’t wait to tell me that I would “never sleep again”. But I want to tell all future mamas out there that this is NOT TRUE.
What IS true is that you will think about sleep a lot. If you’re getting enough. If your kid is getting enough. Why your kid isn’t sleeping. About bedtime. About how much time you have AFTER bedtime to clean and make lunches and eat ice cream with your husband before YOUR bedtime. About how you should be sleeping, but your brain is full of ideas & useless trivia. You should be sleeping, but you keep admiring your son in the monitor and the way he sleeps with his hand patting his cheek and his blanket balled up under him.
Until last week, I was having trouble getting my kid to go to sleep on his own. He would fall asleep in my arms, but not in his own bed. But everything about parenthood is a phase, isn’t it? Every time I start to think “What am I doing wrong?” or “Is it always going to be like this?”, everything snaps into place.
A little backstory: My little dude has been a great sleeper. Then three molars came in at once, and we are all awake for 2 weeks straight. Every morning, I would huddle over his toddler table like a shell-shocked refugee, with a cup of coffee and a dirty bathrobe over my shoulders.
I finally caved and tried “Cry It Out” after 2 weeks of pacing the house all night with him and those molars. What made me change my mind? Well, I feel asleep. And sleepwalked into a wall. While I was holding him. We were both fine (just startled), but that was my wake-up call. It took a few days of tears (mine and his), but night wakings were finally over.
But CIO didn’t work at bedtime. That was my fault. The crying and 5-10-15 minute checks were cutting into my cleaning/laundry/prepping time. It was just faster to let him fall asleep in my arms. So, that’s how he got to be almost 20 months old and still not falling asleep in his bed.
Last week, something changed. Instead of clinging to me, he wanted to lay down in his crib. I rubbed his back, said goodnight, and walked out. Cue screaming and tears. I waited 5 minutes. I gave him a hug. More tears. I planned to check in after 10 minutes, but he was quiet and lying down in 5. What? It’s a Christmas miracle!!
Last night, I brought him to bed after his bedtime story. He laid down and hugged his “Toto” (Totoro). I rubbed his tiny shoulders.
It was dark, but I saw him sit up. Uh oh. Was he going to cry?
He stood at the end of the crib for a goodnight kiss. Then he laid back down. As I left the room, I turned and blew a kiss. I couldn’t see him, but I didn’t need to.
It was so adorable I almost picked him up and squeezed him. But I’m pretty sure if I had done that bedtime would have taken another 45 minutes (you know how it goes).
If you’re a mom, you know that feeling. When your heart swells up with love and awesome and cuteness and ahhh-this-is-the-best-child-ever.
Even if I “never sleep again”, that feeling is worth it.