Wrote this last week, during a real rough spell of Diego sleep. It’s been a bit better the last few days-we’ll see how tonight goes!-but saving this to remember how I really feel when sleep gets tough. Part of me doesn’t want a record, but at the same time, this is all part of life with a toddler and growing as a mother, and I kind of want to remember all of it? Anyway, here’s how I felt:
Almost a year ago, I took my first work trip. Diego was 6 months old, we were in the throws of a never-ending four month sleep regression (clearly, it went on for months), and I was equally anxious about being away and giddy at the thought of actually sleeping.
A sleeping, six month old Diego
At the time, I wrote an e-mail to myself saying I felt so tired, so unbelievably exhausted, I couldn’t even imagine how I could ever get enough sleep to feel normal again. I wondered, would I be a better mother if I wasn’t so tired? Would I be more present?
Snuggling at eight months
This morning, after a VERY difficult sleep night, trying not to cry, I turned to David and asked, “how are we still struggling?” A year later, sleep is still a challenge. I’ve been hesitant to write about our sleep struggles as I am incredibly aware how fortunate we are. Diego is a wonderful, healthy toddler, and writing about our sleep challenge feels like complaining, and I don’t want to complain. Yet, whenever I do write about a challenge, it helps me to get it out.
Napping with David, 11 months
I’ve realized, for me, the two biggest challenges of the overall sleep struggle:
1) The exhaustion. So, so tired.
2) The guilt.
The exhaustion is obvious, and difficult, but I’m almost equally plagued by the guilt. We live in a beautiful age of sleep books, articles, advice, and consultants. As an eager learner, I’ve soaked up so many of them. And they all share the same message: if your kid isn’t sleeping well, it’s your fault. It’s your fault your day isn’t perfectly regimented, it’s your fault you cave at 3:00 a.m. and cuddle that baby in bed, it’s your fault at the end of the day, after missing your baby, you just want to snuggle and giggle, instead of sailing through a 15 minute place-in-crib-and-leave routine.
And the sinker-the part that wakes me up in the middle of the night (when it’s not Diego) this line, in all the books: your baby needs a healthy, independent, full night of sleep. If he isn’t getting that, guess what? IT’S YOUR FAULT. You are not meeting his needs. If you just tried a little harder, if you just worked at it….
THAT’s the part that breaks me. And it’s not just the books. Friends and family, all well meaning, who’ve successfully implemented very healthy sleep habits, just can’t understand what is so hard about it. I want to scream: we’ve tried! The routines, the crying, the self soothing, the total soothing, the strict bedtime, the sleep when he’s tired, the sleep when he’s awake, we.have.tried. I’ve even listened to a Sleep Consultant podcast by-and this is a direct quote from the intro: “conservative, homeschooling parents to 6 in Iowa,”-practically praying their some wisdom would wear off on me. It didn’t. We’re still tired.
This summer has been particularly difficult. Basically, post-Hawaii (months and months ago), our previously decent sleep routine never recovered. Mercifully, earlier this month, Diego spent a week with my parents, and he returned a much better sleeper (thanks, Mom and Dad!).
Until this week. Ooof. We’ve had some rough nights.
Annnnd….that’s how I feel when I’m zonked out exhausted! The thing is, like everything in life, while I can’t control anyone else’s sleep, or how tired I am, I can control my attitude and how much I let it get to me. Trying to keep all this in perspective and remember how lucky the three of us are. And how grateful we are for our curious, active and hilarious little Diego :)