Well, it turns out I’ve treated this blog like a fad diet – three days in and I fell off the wagon. And, though I was raised in a “no excuses” household, I have a really good excuse: my parents were in town this weekend. Because my parents live almost seven hours away (in my hometown of Kenosha, WI), when they visit, we socialize marathon-style. When I cautiously suggested I wouldn’t join them for dinner Friday night because I wanted to get Dylan to bed on time, my mom said, “He’s not going to be one of those babies that can only sleep in their own beds, is he?” Well…I didn’t know. I hadn’t thought about it. But since she brought it up…I was torn. Absolutely, I want us to be able to be flexible in situations like this. I want to spend time with my parents. I also want my child to not scream for hours on end. I took a gamble, and went for dinner Friday night. It turned out fine: Dylan fell asleep in my one-year old nephew’s vibrating chair, and continued to sleep on our drive home at the end of the night. But on Saturday, with further socializing at lunch, and at my sister’s house afterwards, Dylan didn’t nap at all. By 6pm, he was exhausted and crying inconsolably. He finally exhausted himself, and fell asleep around 7pm. I, too, was exhausted, and collapsed shortly thereafter, ruminating on mixed feelings of guilt for not having stayed longer at my sister’s and anger for having ignored Dylan’s need for naps throughout the day. I wasn’t sure if I would ever get a sleep schedule in order.
Let me back up a minute: a couple of weeks ago, I was getting desperate because Dylan’s fussiness was peaking (keep in mind he was four weeks early…so even though he is twelve weeks old by birthdate as of last Thursday, he’s only eight weeks by gestation; all the literature says that benchmarks like fussiness and sleeping, etc. should be gauged by the gestation date, and that fussiness peaks 6-8 weeks after the due date). I remember being told that a crying baby (in the first three months) always needs something: to be fed, changed, warmed, cooled, etc.; they’re too young to manipulate you with tears. But even after tending to all possible needs, Dylan would still cry and fuss. I didn’t get it. In a futile attempt at control, I started reading Dr. Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I kind of jumped around in the text, slightly overwhelmed by the vast amount of information on sleep habits, until I read: “The crying baby may be hungry or just fussy. Or the crying baby may be overtired.” Whoa. I hadn’t thought of that. Weissbluth is adamant that babies need to sleep after one to two hours of wakefulness, not play with their indulgent mamas all day long. I didn’t know that. I learned that I needed to start watching for drowsy signs, soothe him, and put him down (preferably in his crib) whenever I could. Easier said than done. As previously mentioned, Dylan falls asleep best in the Baby K’Tan (http://www.babyktan.com/), but by using the K’Tan I’m breaking two of Weissbluth’s rules: 1. Motionless sleep is best, and 2. Never wake a sleeping baby (because I inevitably wake him when I take him out of the K’Tan to lay him down in his crib). But here’s the real problem: I just like having Dylan in the K’Tan. It’s cool. I feel like a kangaroo with my baby joey. And I get to dance and sing with Dylan in my arms. He loves my version of Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love,” and I guarantee he’s the only person in the history of the universe who feels that way about my singing. Plus, it’s how I get to do things like write (I’m wearing him right now). So, I guess the real problem with sleep training isn’t Dylan’s perceived fussiness; it’s me. I haven’t figured out how to create a space that is sleep-friendly for Dylan because I’m either constantly holding him or socializing. When I confessed to my mom that this sleep training (or lack thereof) was stressing me out and I was on the verge of tears, she said, “Katie – you don’t have to do everything the book says. There is such a thing as motherly instinct. You’ve got it. Trust it.”
Looking down at my sleeping babe, nestled in the Baby K’Tan, I realize that she’s right. This may not be the ideal sleeping condition, but my time to be able to do this with him is limited – the maternity leave clock is ticking – so I’m going to snuggle my baby boy while I have the chance and trust that my good intentions will compensate for my lack of sleep.