Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Trials of Sleep Training a Baby

So to elaborate on my previous post, we are in the process of trying to get Baby to sleep through the night in her crib. We went through this a couple months ago with varying levels of success and ended up backsliding due to extenuating circumstances (me being sick, Baby being sick, the holidays, etc). When Baby came home from the hospital, she was very tiny and seemingly fragile and as first-time parents we hated to hear her cry unnecessarily. She was very opposed to sleeping anywhere but in our arms and after a week of sleepless nights, I brought her into our bed out of sheer exhaustion. Lo and behold we discovered she could actually sleep for at least a few hours and that meant (cue the Hallelujah chorus) so could we.

Honestly the majority of the time I actually enjoy having her in our bed. It is comforting to have her right next to me and feel her little baby breath on my face and hear her peacefully snoring away. I sleep more soundly without the worry that she might be in some danger because all I need to do is open my eyes and there she is, safely snuggled between us. By snuggled though, I mean that her limbs are spread in all directions and she is taking up more room than seems possible for such a tiny creature. Her dad and I are huddled on either side on our allotted 2 inches of mattress, always just on the verge of falling out of bed completely. And this is the problem with having Baby in our bed.

By nature I am not a great sleeper so it comes as no surprise to me that my child would have similar issues. I spent the better part of my early childhood fearful that ET was living in my closet, silently waiting until the minute my parents left the room to come out for a visit. In college I loved living in a house with several girls because it usually insured that I was not home alone at night. On the rare occasion that I was on my own, I often spent the night on the couch with the TV on so that at least if someone decided to break in I would know right away. I hoped that by some miracle she would inherit her dad's uncanny ability to fall asleep instantly and not my habit of crawling into bed exhausted and spending the next half hour staring at the ceiling. She does go to sleep quickly but she also wakes up occasionally and sometimes has a very difficult time getting back to sleep. As you probably guessed, this too is my gift to our daughter. During my second trimester of pregnancy, I went through a phase of horrible insomnia. I would fall asleep easily and wake just a few hours later, completely unable to go back to sleep. My only solution was to move to the couch and read until I fell back to sleep. After a few hours I could return to bed and sleep the rest of the night. Luckily my third trimester brought such sweet exhaustion at night that often by 8:00 I could barely keep my eyes open and would sleep soundly until morning. This is truly the only time of my life when this has been the case.

I hope that Baby will get through this rough patch and follow in her father's footsteps when it comes to sleep. Listening to her cry in frustration in the middle of the night is enough to drive me to just relent and buy a bigger bed. But I trust the fact that we are doing what is best for her (and us) and continue the "Get in your own bed" campaign.

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