Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our sleep: co-bedding and beyond

When dealing with the eating issues at the very beginning Nick and I literally got no sleep for the first couple days. She would get to sleep, we would lay down and just as we would drift off she would start screaming. 

After we got over the feeding issues our sleep went from 0 to 3 hour stretches. I was getting far more sleep than I ever thought I would and it only got better. For every "bad night" where she was up every 1-2 hours, she had a "good night" where she'd sleep for 5-9 hours straight. You read that correctly. Now just because she was sleeping 9 hours straight doesn't mean I was... at about 4 hours straight my brain is going, "Oh my God, she's dead... go check to make sure she's breathing!"

The common belief is that if you keep your child awake during the day, they will sleep at night. This is simply not true. I noticed she was sleeping longer at night when I was letting her sleep during the day.

When I returned to work at 6 weeks postpartum, sleep was my main concern; but her daycare provider  is amazing and didn't even need me to tell her what works best - she is a professional after all.

I've tried to be completely honest with all of you, and by no means am I trying to paint my child as a "perfect" anything. One reason I believe she's such a good sleeper is a pretty controversial practice. For the first 5 weeks of her life we co-bedded. She has always hated being swaddled and therefore when she slept in her bassinet the newborn startles woke her right up. I found that when she slept with me, instead of startling her awake, they served a form of reassurance that momma was still there.

Not once did I ever fear that I would roll on to my child. In fact, many nights I woke up with her still on my chest - the position we fell asleep in. I found that when she slept with me I got better quality sleep because I didn't have to get up to check on her.

Once we transitioned her to the bassinet, I found that every noise and movement she made had me up out of bed, hovering over her to see if she was awake. I knew that wasn't going to work since I needed to sleep in order to function. We bought a fan for a little white noise, and voila! Problem solved.

The hardest thing about parenting is that every one and their brother has opinions about what you're doing. My advice: do what works for you and your family. Annaliese's pediatrician is so against co-bedding, but what she didn't know didn't hurt her and I promise it didn't screw Annaliese up for life. In the end we both got sleep and I think that was the goal. She was attached and inside of me for almost 10 months, why sever that connection so abruptly? She's now in her bassinet every night, unless she's sick or I'm so tired I don't have the energy to go through the motions of what it takes to get her to sleep in there. Sometimes it's nice to curl up beside your baby at night and know it's by choice.

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