So…at some point I had to write about this topic.
As a parent few things are desired or talked about more and as a pre Ted sleep consultant it’s something that comes up in conversation a lot for me.
Firstly, this is based solely on my experiences (professional and personal) and opinion – I don’t think I’m ‘right’ or my way is the only way and am in no way judging anybody who does or thinks differently.
I think this revelation of what a softy I am is going to please all the Mummies I’ve previously worked for no end…I need one of them to come and do what I taught them because tending to somebody else’s baby is so much easier than tending to your own – I know I’ve always told you all this but now I’m the living, breathing proof!!
I won’t ignore my baby’s cry. I can’t.
However, it is important to me that we create good habits that mean all three of us get to sleep and are therefore happy and refreshed people, not walking/shuffling zombies!
Ted is now 8 months old and happily sleeping in his cot most of the time. We have a video monitor which in my opinion is one of the best things we ever bought and means if he stirs I can watch to see him, if he’s up on all fours or rubbing his face a lot, we know he’s going to need one of us, if he’s rolling about there’s a chance he will settle in a few seconds, either way if there is noise coming from him we’re poised to react.
If within 30 seconds he’s still crying (and i’m talking crying, not chatting or moaning) in we go, we’ll rest a hand on his chest or back dependant on how he’s positioned and gently sshh or sing a calming song, he’ll often wrap his fingers around ours and calm down but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to be left – We gradually move away in a series of about 5 stages and if he protests (sometimes protests=screaming), we go back a step. Sometimes this takes 5 minutes, others it takes 45 and yes of course sometimes this is frustrating but our baby needs us and that’s what we signed up to.
This is not easy. It’s flipping bloody tough.
I’m his Mummy and Rich is his Daddy, our roles are to love him, protect him, care for him, prepare him and educate him.
Sleep, in my opinion is something, like everything else in life he needs to be shown how to do – however at 1am last week when he’d been up and down for 3 hours and my husband was on a night shift, bringing him into my bed seemed like the easy option but it wasn’t…It was just a quick fix.
The next night he wanted that again and I’ve always been strongly of the opinion that inconsistency isn’t fair on little people so I had to have a firm word with myself (as did my husband!)
Ted is bigger and cleverer (is that even a word?!) now so it is so important we give him consistent responses so he knows he can rely and trust in us.
Two days back on track and last night he went down like a dream, stirred at 11.15pm but just needed the reassurance of my hand on his back for 20 seconds, went silent as soon as he felt it and then drifted off peacefully until 6.30am this morning.
I’m sure for some, this is too indulgent and they think we should leave him to cry but when I suffered with insomnia in the third trimester, Rich sat up with me at night caring for me, I knew then that I would never feel happy to leave my baby to cope alone when I, a grown adult had been given such love and support.
Others no doubt feel we should cuddle him until he’s fast asleep or have him in our bed all night but the sleep consultant in me does want to create good habits too and on the odd occasions we’ve had Ted in our bed we certainly haven’t relaxed enough to rest.
I think we’ve found a middle ground we’re all happy with, that works for us and I guess that’s all any of us is aiming for really…survival with the minimum amount of parental guilt attached!
*I have to give my husband the credit he deserves here…he has constantly reminded me what I’ve told him about my job over the years and kept me on track, I fear without him I’d be a shell of a sleep deprived Mummy by now!!*