Did I say that Graham sleeps between four and six hours every night in my blog last week? I did, and someone must have told Graham because he’s recently decided to prove us wrong. Sleep seems to be the most talked about issue we’ve had since having Graham. Lack of sleep, lusting after a long stretch of sleep, figuring out where to put the baby down to sleep, celebrating six hours of sleep in a row, crying about sleeping only two hours in a row at 3 a.m. … The list goes on.
When babies come out of their cozy womb, they’re used to darkness, movement and always being held snugly. Graham would not even consider sleeping on a large, flat surface, such as his cradle (forget about the crib!) when he first came home—even when swaddled securely. After trying everything, these tired parents gave in a let him sleep swaddled in his Mamaroo next to our bed. The movement was soothing, and the seat cradled his body. We slowly backed off using the movement, and eventually he was sleeping pretty well in the Mamaroo even when it was not turned on.
We then discovered the Rock ‘n Play when some more experienced parent friends of ours suggested it as a sleeping option. Graham loved it immediately and began sleeping between four and six hours in a row at night regularly. (Happy dance!) However, it seems this week that all good things must come to an end. Our sweet baby boy is happily growing like a weed, and now all of the sudden doesn’t fit comfortably in the Rock ‘n Play. I noticed one night as I tried to lay him in it that he was wiggling his shoulders in protest against his suddenly tight quarters.
Now that I’m used to having Graham sleep right next to us, I’m just not ready to make the move to the nursery. We’ve been attempting to have him sleep in a pack ‘n play set up next to our bed. It’s not working very well (read: not working at all). The past few nights have been a maddening revolving cycle of rocking Graham to sleep, laying him down gently in the pack ‘n play, Graham waking up crying within 10 seconds of being put down, and starting all over again. I can’t let him cry it out; it would break my heart. (I know, I’m soft.)
Eventually, every night I’ve resorted to breastfeeding him and co-sleeping. (Disclaimer: I realize how controversial this subject is; the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against co-sleeping.) Co-sleeping is not something I ever planned on doing, as I’ve found is the case with many co-sleeping families. But it’s something I’ve done more and more frequently as time goes on.
Even when Graham was sleeping well in the Rock ‘n Play, waking up for feedings after that first good stretch of sleep at 2, 4 and 6 a.m. was wearing me out. Eventually I just started breastfeeding him while lying down, which naturally evolved into co-sleeping.
But now that I’m not able to get him to sleep on his own for at least a few hours, I’m starting to worry that I’m setting myself up for failure later. When he sleeps next to me, I don’t feel like I get the restorative deep sleep that I need, as some part of my brain remains hyper-vigilant about Graham’s position and movement.
He also seems to be eating more frequently (and keeping me awake more often) now that he’s starting to get used to this open-all-night boob buffet. I told myself today: Tonight will be the night! We will figure it out and Graham will sleep on his own! But, alas, I’m writing this as Graham sleeps on the Boppy in my lap after another night of struggling. As I stare down at his sweet, content face snoozing away in my lap, I think of how someday before we know it we’ll be dropping Graham off at college, and these sleep struggles will be but a sweet memory …