The first question everyone seems to ask about Baby J is if he sleeps through the night. Especially now that he’s 5 months old- it feels like people expect that he should suddenly be this amazing 8 hour sleeper and we shouldn’t hear a peep out of him between the hours of 10pm and 6am. And then, I start to feel like there’s something wrong.
Baby J is a good sleeper, but not a long sleeper. I say he is a good sleeper because once he is asleep for the night, he sleeps well by just waking up to eat and going right back to sleep. That was a hard battle to overcome though in the first 6 weeks as I fought bedsharing because my husband was not okay with it. I spent way too many nights not sleeping with baby on my chest in the rocker or on the couch. And I’d dangerously start to doze off and have to pull myself out of it.
Finally, at 6 weeks old, I’d fallen asleep on the couch one too many times and Baby J fell off my chest onto the stack of pillows I’d piled up in precaution of a moment just like that. I told my husband that day that we’d be moving to the bed and I hoped he’d come around to the idea. As a breastfeeding advocate, I was all for bedsharing. It sounded like it would make my life so much easier, but my husband works a job where he sees parents who have lost their babies to SIDS or unsafe sleeping conditions. So he was not okay with it.
Until I started telling him about safe bedsharing standards and I read Sweet Sleep (a La Leche League International book) and read the pro-bedsharing research about independence, attachment, and SIDS reduction. And he saw it in practice where baby was kept warm against my skin and able to nurse throughout the night. It took awhile for my husband to come around and there are times when I’m still not sure if he’s 100% comfortable with it. Especially now that Baby J has gotten more mobile and likes to turn sideways in the bed (I tell my husband it’s because he’s just trying to be close to him but I don’t know that he believes me).
Baby J is a frequent nurser. Once I started bedsharing and stopped worrying about the clock, I stopped counting the hours between feeds. I think it’s about every 2 hours. There’s been one time in 5 months that he’s slept any length of time that I “noticed” and it was because I woke up to a bed soaked in milk. He slept 4 hours, nursed, then slept another 5 hours. It was insane.
It hasn’t happened since. So I am in constant sleep deprived mode as I haven’t slept longer than 2-3 hours in months. Because I’ve struggled with oversupply, I haven’t been able to pass a bottle onto the husband and take a nice stretch of sleep (because inevitably I get plugged ducts if I wait longer than 3 or 4 hours to nurse so I have to pump anyway so it really becomes stupid for us BOTH to be losing sleep).
Then there are these nights like last night where Baby J wakes up crying for no apparent reason and won’t go back to sleep no matter what I do. Those are few and far between but still take a toll on my body. A few nights a week, he wakes up crying but once he is rocked and nursed, he goes back to sleep. I haven’t figured out the why behind any of it- gas? teeth? bad dreams? all of the above?
All I know is that I try to tell myself that my baby is just being a baby and it’s okay that he still wakes up to eat. It’s okay that he doesn’t sleep through the night. It’s all okay because it’s within a range of normal. And no, I will not let him cry it out. And yes, I’ll bedshare as long as it makes sense for us.