Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sleep is a Myth (#3)

Here is #3 from the list 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Giving Birth

I always laugh when reading articles or blog posts about someone who did “all the right things” when they came home from the hospital with their baby, and so on cue their baby magically drifted into a peaceful slumber only to awaken briefly for feedings.  And then, after mere weeks their baby also started sleeping through the night.  I also laugh when people take credit for being some kind of magical baby whisperer that can lull babies into the deepest of sleeps just because they know the right thing to do.  I have one word for these people: LUCKY.

Sleep training programs, parenting books, sleeping books, and baby gurus have made many mothers believe that babies should be reaching some sort of sleep independence at a very young age.  If you have not had your baby yet trust me – one of the most frequent questions people will ask you is, “Is he sleeping through the night yet?”  Note:  When you are a new mom and your baby is not sleeping through the night all this often well-meaning question does is make you feel like you are really doing something wrong.  I fell into this trap.  I did “everything right” so to speak but my son was a terrible sleeper.  I was completely exhausted.  I actually remember staring at him one night in an exhausted daze, when he was just a few weeks old, and not being able to remember what we had named him.  I was beating myself up because my son was not drifting off into blissful 3 hour naps when all the books said he should be.  Thankfully DoctorSmart (pseudonym) gave me some useful advice: stop reading these books!  Stop letting other people into your head!  Good advice.  The reality is that EVERY.  BABY.  IS.  DIFFERENT.  They do not all have the same needs.  They do not all have the same sleep pattern.  A good friend of mine has 3 children.  The first one started sleeping through the night at 6 months.  The second started sleeping through the night at 3 weeks (yes, weeks! After this she said she thought she could have 10 kids).  The third started sleeping through the night at 18 months (that killed the idea of having 10 kids).  She did not do anything notably different with the three children.  They all had different needs.

I have a lot to say about sleep but I am going to hold off.  However, let me say this – Babies sleeping through the night at a very young age is an exception – not a rule.  Babies all have different sleep needs.  When you have a newborn you will not be getting much sleep.  Fact of life.  Do not beat yourself up.  You will be exhausted.  People will tell you it’s just a phase and that will not make you feel any better at all because you are so tired.  This is where you need to do the following:
a) Pray for strength and rest.
b) Let someone else look after the baby so you can have a nap.
c) Tell yourself that this will not last and that you are strong and you are doing everything you can to look after your precious baby.  (It doesn’t feel good if others say this to you – but somehow it does help if you say it to yourself).

If you are feeling truly overwhelmed please get professional help (ie. See your doctor).  There is absolutely no shame in this.

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