Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Going With My Gut

Jayden has never been a good sleeper.

As a newborn he had colic. It was really, really hard. I didn't write about it much because I was worried it would seem like I wasn't thankful for him. I was SO thankful for him that I didn't want to complain. It was week after week of getting no sleep and him just screaming all night. Even now when he doesn't sleep, I think back at that time and I am thankful at least he's not screaming all night like he used to.

Once colic was over, he had a period of sleeping well, especially during the months we were able to swaddle him. We moved him from a bassinet next to us to his own crib in his own room. He did fine, although he was still getting up for bottles during the night for a long time. He was on the lower side of weight so his doctor said he probably needed the calories and it was fine.

He was never able to just be put down in his crib without us rocking him to sleep and then putting him down. We tried the whole sleep training thing and it was hellish. It felt wrong. He cried. I cried. Adam and I took turns on who was the strong one and who wanted to give up. It had mixed results. It would kind of work and then something would happen like teething or sickness. At it's very best, it resulted in Jayden sleeping until maybe 4 or 5 and then we would go get him and he would sleep another hour or so in bed with us. He still wasn't able to be just put down in his crib and then go to sleep on his own.

If sleep training meant crying for a night or two and then he could sleep on his own and knew how to self soothe, then great. But that was not the case for Jayden. And one thing I know for sure is that I don't have the stomach for listening to him cry on a regular basis.

In mid December Jayden got a cold. He has never done well with colds. He will wake up during he night and freak out that he can't breathe. So, when he has been sick in the past, we've often just let him sleep with us. His cold seemed to last forever and then it turned into his first ear infection right before Christmas. While we were at the doctor, she also said he has three teeth new teeth coming. Well, that explained the sleepless nights.

It really got me thinking about how awful I would have felt if we hadn't let him sleep with us during that time. Even worse, what if we let him cry in his crib during that time?

I read this post from Phd In Parenting and some other similar ones and they said a lot of what my gut has been telling me about our situation.

{Note- If you have done CIO or other forms of sleep training and they worked for you, that's awesome. You'll get no judgement from me. I think sometimes sleep training means less crying overall. It just didn't work for us and I felt strongly that it was damaging in our situation.}

After a few nights of trying to get Jayden to transition back to his crib after he was sick, I made a joke on twitter: "I give up. Jayden can sleep in our bed until he goes to college."

I was only half joking.

We gave up the struggle. We've been letting him sleep in our bed. And guess what? Everyone is getting sleep. There are no middle of the night trips up the stairs to get screaming Jayden. Adam doesn't have to spend an hour upstairs trying to get him to sleep in his crib at bedtime. When I take him into bed and he goes to sleep, we don't have to tip toe him upstairs and hope he makes the transition. We just let him sleep. And it's nice.

Jayden used to sleep maybe 8 or 9 hours a night at best. With at least one wake up during that time. He now sleeps 12 hours a night. Straight through.

Without bedtime stress, the atmosphere is much lighter in the evenings. Sunday night I gave him a nice long bath, put him in his nighttime diaper and PJs, we sang a song together, and then we cuddled in bed and he fell asleep. It was so nice. He ended up sleeping for 13 hours.

He has even started signing to me that he is sleepy. One day he signed "sleep," I brought him in the bed and he took a long nap. It's like now he isn't afraid of sleeping and doesn't need to fight it. (His new thing is to sign "sleep" when he wants his pacifier because he knows he can only have it to sleep! Although him wanting it and being sleepy often go hand in hand.)

I've noticed that the better he sleeps, the better he eats too. That is great news since he is small for his age.

Jayden has always cried immediately when he wakes up. He can be sound asleep one second and then standing and screaming the next. (I've seen it on the video monitor.) One change I've noticed in our bed is him waking up happy. A few times I've seen him wake up and just lay there smiling, playing with his paci, or babbling to himself. I've heard of kids waking up and just playing in their crib for a while and that always amazed me. It's nice to see Jayden doing a little of that.

One night this week he had a (very rare) pee leak and after we changed his diaper and pajamas, turned the lights off, and all got back into bed, we heard him kind of humming or singing to himself. It was funny and quite adorable. I realized he was soothing himself back to sleep. A skill Jayden had never had before. I guess being in a comfortable place he feels safe, he is now (finally!) learning self soothing.

It's so nice to be able to talk to Adam the next day about how cute or cuddly Jayden was in bed. That sure beats us trying to piece together the awful night we had before. "What time did he get up? When did he come to bed with us? How many times did he wake up? What time was it when __ happened?"

I've spent so much time worrying and obsessing over Jayden's sleeping. When he was 14 months I posted on facebook about it and had a huge response from people writing about their babies and toddlers not sleeping. And how much pressure gets put on you when you have a child that doesn't sleep.

Have you ever noticed that when you have a baby people tend to ask- "Is he a good baby? Does he sleep through the night?" How are you supposed to answer that if you have a child like Jayden? No, I don't have one of those "good" babies.

Anyway, I haven't written about sleep much...probably because I've been too tired to really get into it (haha)...but I wanted to write this post for any of you that are struggling with sleep issues. You are not alone. You are not a bad parent. And if you are considering co-sleeping, there is no reason to feel bad about it. It doesn't mean you failed at anything. You're just trying to do what's best for your family. I needed to hear that, so I wanted to say it to you in case you needed to hear it.

For right now we have a solution that results in Jayden being healthy. Sleeping and eating. I am at peace with this.


  1. Love this post! Aidan's never been a great sleeper either but we haven't had it as rough as you have for sure. Co-sleeping isn't for us, but like you, I don't judge those who do things differently. Every kid is different, every family is different. (Furthermore, Aidan feels like if all three of us are on the bed together, it's time to WRESTLE! Sleeping is the furthest thing from his mind at that point.)

    I'm so glad that things are better now!

  2. I applaud you for going with your gut! It is so hard to know what is best to do with so many opinions out there that contradict one another! I think in the end you know what is best for your little boy! Thank you for sharing your story!

  3. We do nearly the exact same thing. G starts off in her crib, wakes up once during the night (usually as we're going to bed), and then we put her in bed with us and she sleeps straight through until morning. We've never been able to just put her in her crib and walk away, but we've noticed the same thing you did--when she's in bed with us, she'll lie there singing, playing with her paci, etc. to soothe herself to sleep--something she would NEVER do in her crib! People should do whatever works best for them and their families.

  4. Yeah we had a bad night last night. This whole sleep thing has been a struggle to say the least. We did the co-sleeping thing for awhile. Then she got tired of it. She hasn't really slept straight through very many times before. She's getting better and I am getting more sane, but I really feel for those mamas who are struggling with the sleep issues. Especially when it seems like you are the only one and every one else's baby is sleeping through the night.

  5. I think when it comes to sleep, it's a whatever works for you and your family. That was the best advice I got from a nurse. So long as your system works for you and your family, go with it!

    I know I said this before but I did find that around 2, Theo started to sleep waaaaaaay better. So hang in there lady!

  6. Geekette sleeps a lot like this. And if her sleeping in our bed meant more sleep for us, I'd love it. But David just gets kicked off and I'm used a pacifier going from breast to breast. I am so happy you found what works for you though!

  7. It sounds like you are doing exactly what your son needs. Who can fault you for that? I find that the people who say "why don't you just..." have no freaking idea what it's like to be in the other person's shoes. And should therefore NOT be offering advice! I say keep up the good work! And you are in good company because my son doesn't sleep through the night either!

  8. You do what works. Always. Meg doesn't like to eat. I refuse to force feed her. I don't want her to be scarred by food and have more issues with it later on. I think it's the same thing with sleep. Also, how long are you really going to be able to sleep with your baby? Why would anyone want to cut that time short?

    1. That's what I keep thinking. He's not going to sleep with us forever. Why not enjoy him while he's little? It's sweet to have him with us. Adam and I both like it.

  9. We struggled with sleep with Mea as well. She would wake up multiple times a night, and was impossible to put to sleep for the longest time.

    I couldn't stand the crying it out. I could not listen to my child cry like that.

    Even as a baby my girl could turn her lungs on like a fire truck siren. Loud. Non-stop. We honestly could never make it to the point that she would be asleep. Once she cried for an hour and fifteen minutes. The longest 75 minutes of my life.

    I vote for do what works best for your family, and your kid.

  10. We had a horrible sleeper with our first child. We were so dead set on him sleeping in his own room that I am sure we did not do what was best for him by forcing it. He likely just needed us. But we were first time parents, got no support from our parents and didn't know any better. Sigh. You are doing the right thing! Way to go on figuring it out early.

  11. I'm glad you found something that works for you & your family :)

  12. I think what you are doing is fabulous! I'm so happy Jayden plus you guys are getting the sleep you need! Please yay for a toddler that eats! Brayden napped in our bed until he was almost one (and in our bed at night/in a bassinet until 7 months) and I will never regret that. We moved him to his own room when he started to sleep worse at night/naps and that's when I knew he was ready. I hate the sleeping through the night questions because it puts so much pressure and quilt on us mommas when we are just doing what is best for our family. Yay for finding a solution that met Jayden's needs!

  13. I was blessed with 2 great sleepers and have always said I have no idea how mom's of not-so-great sleepers manage it. My heart goes out to any mom dealing with sleeping issues. As far as methods go, I learned from my sisters long before I had kids of my own that what works for one may not work for another. They have six kids between the two of them and ALL six of them were drastically different babies. CIO worked on one of the early babies after one night of about 15 minutes of tears - conclusion being that CIO is great! Fast forward to the next baby who needed some sleeping help and CIO attempts resulted in entire nights of scream-filled attempts where no one got any sleep. That baby was then allowed to sleep wherever and whenever she would. Two babies, same parents, much different results. You are so right to trust your gut. Trying different methods for different things is great but don't take it personally if they happen to not work for your baby. He gets more and more gorgeous by the way!