No, honey, you didn’t sleep train your baby at 3 months.
I’m the mother of a beautiful nearly 8-month old boy, who I’m fairly certain was sent to this earth to end me, but that’s beside the point. It’s been a journey and I wish I had started blogging about it when he graced us with his presence. And by graced, I mean ripped me to shreds after 22 hours of tiring, sweaty, hungry, disheartening labor and 3.5 hours of strenuous, eyeballs-bulging-outta-my-head pushing. But fortunately for me I didn’t start blogging then because I’m fairly certain people would’ve doubted my love for the little alien potato judging by how miserable the first few weeks, oh wait, I mean first 5 or so months were. And people may still, because I still firmly believe labor & delivery is not beautiful and motherhood kinda blows a lot of the time. Now, that being said, he’s my favorite. My favorite everything. So hush.
Anyhoo, my baby doesn’t sleep through the night at almost 8-months. He has a handful of times, somewhere around 6-12% of the time actually, and not until we were months into this “miracle” called parenthood. I don’t count sleeping through as 6 hours, though, even though I guess that’s what it’s defined as by the pros or WebMD or something. I’m talking sleeping straight through from the time I put him down at night to the time he wakes up in the morning. 5:00 am is my sleep-through cut-off – dunno exactly why, but it is. If he makes it to 5 am he gets a gold star and I get a little teaser of what a baby-free existence used to feel like.
I wanted to drop him off at a fire station or QuickTrip for the first 4 or so months of his life. And I dreaded bedtime with a passion. He was getting up anywhere between 3-6x/night. I was so tired I wanted to die. I cried all the time. We had a schedule for him, followed the instructions on all the blogs and Pinterest posts and in the books…but alas, he’s a baby. More importantly, he’s this baby. My baby. Meaning not all babies are alike, or react the same way to the same things. Nor can they be trained exactly the same way as another baby. More power to ya if your baby sleeps through the night right away. But it’s probably not because you’re the Baby Whisperer. Sorry. It’s probably because that’s just your baby. Even if all your babies sleep through the night…I still don’t buy that it’s your sleep training technique. I’m thinking it’s because you’re lucky. Enjoy it and bask in the greatness that is a full night’s sleep. But don’t go around looking at the new mother across from you, with her dark under-eye bags and droopy eyelids and frazzled demeanor and boast about how you “sleep trained your baby at 3 months.” That new mom would kill for a good night’s rest and you’re right there, ripe for the picking.
It chaps my @ss when I see the Facebook posts made by new mothers going on about their amazing child and their own amazing method for getting their kid to sleep through the night. Don’t get me wrong, I’m like 7% happy for these moms because let’s face it, we gotta stick somewhat together, but the other 93% is an ugly, bubbling mixture of jealously, hate, sadness, exhaustion, and wine.
Around the 8 week mark, after a particularly tough, well…6 weeks (man, babies suck), I had a total breakdown after all these younger, supposed-to-be-harder-to-handle babies were sleeping through the night and my guy had never even gotten close. I was so. Damn. Tired. Then I had an epiphany, or I saw the light, or I had an out of body experience, or my brain cells that had been sleep-deprived and/or disabled since giving birth got zapped back to life on account of the sobbing – I dunno. But in any case, I realized THIS is my baby. THIS is him. THIS is who he is and THIS is how it is. Seems simple and obvious, but I finally shifted my expectations. I was unrealistic in what I expected out of this beautiful 8-week old lump. I wanted way too much from this little guy. HE’S A BABY for goodness sake…he is clueless as to the torture that he inflicts and the burden that he is. I’m the rational adult in this scenario. I should know better than to want this brand new life to have his sh!t together after only 8 weeks. Hell, I’m still working on that and I’m 32 years old.
I waited with baited breath for things to “get better”, to “get easier”, to “turn around”, and each time I hit the “magic number” week or month a little piece of me would get upset all over again that things weren’t easier or better – in fact, sometimes things regressed and got worse. So, 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 3-4 months went by…and I was beginning to think that I was never ever ever never ever never never gonna be able to instill confidence and encouragement on new mothers like so many of my friends did by reaching out to me with texts and phone calls (which always made me cry tears of joy and thanks, by the way, ladies!). Finally, about 5 months in I was able to tell a Facebook friend that things get better…not great, but better. And now almost 8 months in, things are still not great but they aren’t any worse than they were a few months ago. And that’s a success in itself.
New moms, comparison is the thief of joy. Do your thing, do what works for your baby, and know and accept what your baby is. This doesn’t mean don’t try sleep training methods or follow schedules or read the books or resort to crying it out or doing whatever parenting methods and techniques work for you and your family. Just don’t think less of yourself as a mother or less of your baby for things not going as you’d hoped. Roll with it as best as your dead-tired mind and body will allow. Don’t get caught up in comparing your baby to this baby or that baby because that, my friend, will drive you insane. And I find myself still doing it now and then, but I recover quickly and I’m so much happier.