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Mommy Sleep Diaries

By July 08, 2016 , ,

I recently came upon an old letter I wrote to myself  two years ago. It was about my son's horrible sleeping habits. As a new mother, my son's lack of sleep training was the most troubling thing on my mind at the time and I constantly questioned whether I was doing things all wrong. Looking back at it now, I can't believe I fretted so much. My son's sleeping habits now don't seem like an issue of epic proportions as they did back then. This issue which plagued me so much eventually went away (through a combination of measures we took as parents and the fact that my son grew out of it).

As I currently deal with a new set of hurdles with a toddler who has a mind of his own, my letter-to-self is a reminder that each phase of raising my child will present with new challenges. At any given time, we're simply dealing with one leg out of the many more to come in this marathon, complete with highs and lows. I tell myself to keep things in perspective.

Here's to taking a look back and sharing something I wrote two years ago...

I watch my 9-month old son tensely as he sleeps in his crib, his breath rising and falling evenly. Ironically, this peaceful act of sleep has of late been the source of much mental turmoil and disturbance for me. I’ll admit it - I’m a member of Sleep Deprived Mothers Anonymous dealing with a baby with frequent night wakings. And yes, I’m guilty of the crime of nursing and rocking my son to sleep.

Modern day parenting guides tell me a lot of things that give me cause for concern - that my baby should be able to sleep through the night by now, that I’m encouraging an unhealthy dependency in my son on nursing and the rocking motion as a means to fall asleep. Apparently, I have failed to instill good sleep habits in him. As a result, he doesn’t know how to self-soothe and fall asleep on his own. Bad mommy.

I know i’m not alone in my agony in dealing with a baby that doesn’t sleep well. I see countless mothers in the online mommy groups desperately seeking advice, tips, and suggestions on all matters of child sleep habits - how to teach their baby to sleep through the night, how to encourage them to fall asleep on their own, how to prevent night wakings, and so on. It’s a whole field, I tell you. One that I never knew existed until I joined the Zombie Mommy Club.

And now, I find myself asking fellow mommies utterly ridiculous questions like, “What technique did you use to put your baby to sleep? CIO? Shush-pat? Modified CIO?” “What did do you if he cried upon placing him in the crib? Did you continue patting him or did you pick him up? If so, for how long?” Since when did putting a baby to sleep become such a science? Or rather, such a practiced art?

“I use a rocking sarong and play sweet lullabies in the backdrop”, responded one mommy I asked beseechingly for help. “I use an electronic rocking chair and it works like a charm. It doesn’t break the habit of rocking but at least you don’t have to do it yourself”, said another. Great…

Something like nursing and cradling my child to sleep that felt so right in the beginning has turned into a self-inflicted torment. Now I fret constantly that I’ll be rocking my son to sleep well into adulthood. I research ways to instill better sleep habits in my son. I even talk in baby sleep lingo, uttering terms like, sleep training, self-soothing, Ferberizing, and sleep consultant. My parents look at me blankly. These words never existed in their time.

I feel like we live in a generation where we try to mould a baby’s habits to suit our busy lifestyle. Add to that the volumes of sleep training books that exist, each dictating various schools of thought and causing us to overanalyze every little thing. I would argue that our mothers did all the current “don’ts” of parenting like rocking, nursing, and cosleeping, yet we ultimately learned how to fall asleep on our own. Maybe it just took us longer to get there but patience was something our parents seemed to have a lot more than us. There were no online forums, mommy groups, and BabyCenter for them to refer to. They simply did what they knew and what came naturally to them. And we all turned out alright, didn’t we? And so I continue to straddle two mental states. Sometimes fretful that I’m not doing enough to remedy this darn sleep situation. Sometimes assured in the belief that it’ll all work out on its own.

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