When you have a new baby in your house, one of the first questions people almost always ask is, “How is the baby sleeping?” I am quite certain this question comes out of a concern for how well you are sleeping. They ask the question with a look of empathetic understanding, knowing how sleep deprivation can threaten your sanity.
None of us are great sleepers in our house. I stay up too late, my husband tosses and turns all night and the girls often wake up. Yet, I get to answer the question for Roland for now with a, “Great. He’s sleeping great.” This of course is followed by a laugh and, “He’s the best sleeper in the house right now.”
So far, Roland is following the same pattern of sleep that his sisters did. They were all sleeping an average of 6-8 hour stretches by two months, a dream that only lasted a couple months for my other two. As soon as they started rolling over, I ditched the swaddle, and their sleep became disrupted.
Maybe it was the mobility or a new developmental awareness, maybe it was the beginning of teething pain, but there are probably a few reasons why there is a thing known as the 4-month sleep regression. We aren’t there yet though, so for now, I’ll enjoy the extra hours of uninterrupted sleep … that is when the two older ones allow me to sleep.
Recently, we have had company, we have had illness and we have traveled. All of these things disrupt a child’s sleep routine and habits, and we just try to manage our expectations and roll with it. While Roland is sleeping peacefully for the time being, my two-year-old has been extra needy for some mommy time and has been trying to get it during the night hours. My five-year-old mostly sleeps through the night in her own bed, but she has been waking up because she has been scared lately. They both want to be in bed with us.
Before Roland was born, we told the girls they would not be able to come into bed with us if they woke in the middle of the night. Personally, I need my time from the time they go to bed until the early hours of the morning to work, but we all get the most sleep if they just come into bed with us if they wake at night.
I knew I would be nursing Roland throughout the night, and adding one more person to our queen sized bed seemed impossible. After his birth, we set up an air mattress upstairs thinking that would help the girls in the transition. Once the air mattress got put away, they had sleeping bags they could use if they really needed to come upstairs. Now that Roland is sleeping well in his bassinet beside the bed though, they have been able to get back in bed with us here and there as we cope with the various challenges as they come.
I know the bedtime shuffle will continue to change in the coming months. Roland will move to his crib, and he will go through growth spurts that will make him want to eat more at night. I will be tired and just bring him to bed with me. The girls will continue to go through phases of peeing the bed and night terrors. I expect to continue to wake during the night for the next several years.
I also expect to get some full nights of sleep within that time. I’m still a parent at night though, and the hard work of comforting, guiding and setting boundaries never ends—it only changes as they grow. My mom likes to remind me about how I will be up at night when they are teenagers waiting in worry for them to get home.
For now, while the littlest sleeps, the middle gets a little needed extra attention in our bed, and the oldest has to navigate some boundaries around our expectations while we acknowledge her fears. Thankfully, in the morning, there is always coffee.