Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sleep Training

The first few months of PJ’s arrival into our life were chaotic at best. We dealt with breastfeeding issues, post partum depression, colic, and sleep problems. From the beginning we planned on having PJ with us in our room for the first four to six months, sleeping in a side car that fastens onto our bed. We chose this semi-co-sleeping route to make breastfeeding easier, encourage sleep in the entire family, and because I was petrified of squeezing out a little guy from the coziness of my uterus and then plopping him into a cavernous (for him) room. 



But within a few short series of days the semi-co-sleeping route was history - so much for “I’ll never do that…” - and little PJ and I were sleeping together on my side of the bed.

We lay belly-to-belly with my arm gently resting against the top of his head and, at the beginning, my legs bent to rest against the bottom of his feet. As he grew, my arm stayed in position and slowly his feet, then his calves, and finally his knees rested on my thigh. Every time I woke up I had a kink in my neck, my shoulder was half asleep, and my lower back was aching. Sometimes I got to wake up to the joy of getting kicked in my tummy and then later, as PJ grew, my crotch. I got my hair pulled and the front of my chest was always cold since there was no way I was putting my blanket anywhere near his face. Anytime I moved, he moved too and most of the time he would let out a little complaining cry.

Lets just say it wasn’t easy or incredibly comfortable.

Yet, we did get more sleep than we would have otherwise and I knew that PJ needed me. He needed my smell, my warmth, my breath. And as breast feeding started to work, he needed the reassurance of my breasts, often. It was the right solution for us at the right time.

But all things come to an end.

After weeks of discussion and negotiations (and lots of conversation with other mommies), we started “sleep training” a la Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Almost two weeks ago we started with the Mr. gently putting PJ to sleep for the first part of the night in his own, beautiful crib in his own room.


When he woke for the first time, I would go pick him up, carry him to our room, nurse him, and then we spent the rest of the night together. Over the past week it has morphed into PJ sleeping alone throughout the night and for almost all of his naps. He is going to sleep hours earlier than he use to, sleeping longer than he use to, and taking significantly more naps than he use to. These changes are NOT all due to “sleep training”: he recently doubled his weight, his strength increased, he sees better, hears better, likes to play on the floor alone for short periods of time, and is just older. I think we got lucky and caught that moment in time where he was ready to sleep longer and alone.

Not that we knew that going in. It was a scary transition for me. Sleep has been my saving grace and I was really worried that we would all crash and burn. But by night two, PJ was going to sleep on his own relatively easily and I was happy to be sleeping by myself again, with both sides of my chest warm and the freedom to move whenever and however I chose. I know PJ and I are both sleeping better and I’m pretty sure the Mr. does too.

Now, just a few days after the transition, I’m already slowly rewriting history - just like with the pregnancy, the birth, and the pain of breastfeeding - I’m forgetting the ugly and remembering the wonder. The wonder of his smell, his breath, his little coos, his tiny hand wrapped around my thumb all throughout the night. The wonder of him finally waking without panic screams to look up at me and smile his toothless grin just seconds before he dove for breakfast.

Time really does fly. At a supersonic speed.

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