2014 – the year of sleep

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I don’t ever recall being particularly obsessive about sleep, before I had children. I myself am happy to survive off of 6 hours a night, as long as it’s a solid 6 hours. That term “solid sleep” though, is quite a slippery one, once you have children. Aside from some periods throughout high school where I had trouble falling back to sleep if awoken in the middle of the night, I don’t think I was a very sleepy type of person. 8f9a46b30ba989900b8a58fb9e3a80a1

But actually, that last sentence may very well explain the obsessive relationship with sleep that I developed, when I became pregnant with my first baby. I had heard all the stories of sleep deprivation, and in turn, had heard all the methods for getting your baby to sleep, ASAP, once they were born. At my baby shower a friend gave me BabyWise, a book I have now come to loathe because of it’s delirious and sometimes sad way of dealing with babies, as if they weren’t all different. Soon after Taylor was born though, and I was set to go back to work, I started looking into other sleep training methods, so I wouldn’t be a walking zombie in the showroom, when I returned to my full time job at St. John. 101849c94a0fbd6e562337ab767f6ac0

That’s when I found the Baby Whisperer, by Tracy Hogg, and subsequently found their online sleep forums, where you could connect with other BW parents (that’s what we called each other), and get advice and tips on Tracy Hogg’s methods. I became so consumed by sleep, rather, getting my baby to sleep, that within a few months I had worked up the ranks and honed Tracy’s methods so well that I became a nap forum moderator, in charge of answering the nap questions of tired, weary mothers across the globe. I quickly learned that a “nappy” meant something different in Europe, as well as a host of other baby-related terms which were different in other parts of the world than they were in the US. 3f182c10c1315f6108ba1dd24a82bf13 I also met a small group of women whose babies were all born within the same month and year, and we created our own little private forum where we could share all tales and questions related to baby. We are still friends to this day, and although we are long past the days of babies and sleep (most of us anyhow), we still have a bond and connection that will never be replaced. I’ve even met a couple of them in real life, and it’s pretty cool to think I have friends all over the globe from America to Canada to New Zealand. In terms of sleep, I think back, and we were a crazy bunch, making the most miniscule adjustments to our children’s sleep schedule in hopes of a perfect nap, or to transform an “early riser” into a baby who slept till 7 am. Oh the things we did, from “sleep to wake”, where we would go in just minutes before their habitual wake time and jostle them just a bit, hoping it would reset their little clock, to a method called pick up/put down.

Taylor, a labeled “textbook” baby, easily adapted to all the tricks I played on her and was pretty much the perfect sleeper by 6 months of age.

1fb4cc450f40deaa93939db13d9dfcb4 Syd was a whole other issue though, and was definitely a mix between grumpy and touchy, wanting his own space at night, but still not knowing how to get himself to sleep. The methods didn’t work on him at all, and so I read even more books, a total of at least 6 infant sleep books when all was said and done, until at 11 months of age it magically all fell into place, and order was restored. In the mean time, I had seriously researched and learned more and spent more time reading about sleep, than the average doctor. To this day I bet I know more about infant sleep cycles and stages than our pediatrician.

Hayden has been the hardest nut to crack though, refusing to play into any of our gentle coaxing, and never settling down in the middle of the night without one of us coming in over and over to reassure him. He didn’t sleep through the night at all until 11 months old, and since then, he hasn’t slept consistently at night for more than a week or so. We will get a few good days in, and then bam! The kid’s back at it again, torturing us.  We don’t do cry it out btw, if that’s what you’re thinking. 21d9995d6487c238ddc7da1020d18028
Currently, Hayden hasn’t slept through the night since the week of Christmas. Last night, in the middle of a 2 hour awake spell, Art and I may have tried to bitch slap each other in bitter accusation. Not really, but we were both irritated, understandably so.

Throughout all of this, Art has asked if there’s something we should be doing to try and fix this situation, and honestly, I don’t think there’s anything we can do. I’ve been there, done that, and in the end, I’ve learned that we will never fully understand these tiny tyrants of ours, and have the magic fix-all for everything. On paper, we are doing everything right. He has a good routine, rarely ever misses a nap thanks to living across from the school, sleeps solidly for 2+ hours at nap time, and gets to bed at a decent time. I’m sure if I broke out my old sleep books I could possibly find some sleep technique that might solve the problem, but after 8+ years of parenting, I’ve learned more than anything that a book will never give you all the answers you need. 948479b463864e6a09e73dd6243fe72f

Yes, parenting books are wonderful and empowering and the very best of them give you an insight and tools to help with your child, you may have been lost without. But a book is no replacement for your gut instinct, and my gut tells me that this period of sleeplessness is just something we will ride out. Besides, every time we think we are at our breaking point with lack of sleep from this kid, he gives us a pass, and sleeps 2-3 nights in a row.

I’m still eternally grateful for finding and following Baby Whisperer. The tools I learned helped me feel a little less helpless, a lot more in control, and the routine alone gave our days predictability, something that was good for babysitters and working parents. So new mommas, read up on as many sleep books as your heart desires, but know when to give in a little, and hold your sleeping baby, skip the nap if you need to get out. A perfect sleep schedule will one day be the least of your worries, and in the end, is not worth the stress of trying to figure it all out. My one regret with Taylor and Syd, is that I never held them enough when they slept, afraid it would form a bad habit. With Hayden, I held him almost every single day, even for just a little bit. If Tracy Hogg herself came back from the dead to tell me my holding a sleeping Hayden was the cause of all his night wakings, I’d say, “So be it.”

With a bit of irony, I’m making it my top goal for 2014 to get more sleep. Too many late nights, too many early mornings, too many middle of the night wakings where I fail at ever falling back to sleep, have taken a toll on me, both mentally and physically. I’m really hoping Hayden will join me in this new sleep program, or at least cooperate every few days. In the mean time, I’ve taken control where I can and have changed up my night routine in order to at least get into bed before midnight each night. Whether, or how long I actually stay in bed, is a whole other story, thanks to one cute squishy little baby.

What is one goal you’ve set out for yourself this year? And did you sleep train your baby, or did you just roll with it and take a more casual attitude?

All images from my Pinterest board, where I pin lots of images about sleep because I am obviously obsessed with it.



Andrea Howe

Andrea is the founder of For The Love Of, a lifestyle blog dedicated to approachable, modern living. She writes about style, her love of DIY, and living a healthier life through wholesome, nutritious cooking. She is also a regular contributor at Babble. Get in touch: Facebook, Twitter You can find Andrea on Instagram @andreavhowe and @gwynethmademedoit

  • Avatar KateB says:

    Oh, that was a fun read. We were a bit crazy, eh? I am glad I followed The Baby Whisperer because my kids sleep habits are still impressive to all babysitters and this makes me very proud. It was a lot of work at the time, but it paid off, for sure. (Plus, I got some fantastic friends out of the deal!)

    My goals for 2014: Lose weight before my 20 year HS Reunion (lame) and finish the 2013 Resolutions that weren’t completed (catch up on family photo albums and use all my gift cards).

  • Avatar ErinM says:

    I agree with Kate, that was a great read! I love your attitude this time around — felt much the same with James this time , I let things go a bit more too. And I will be ever thankful to have found the BW site and all you ladies as well! My kids have grown into amazing sleepers as well, even if it took some serious work to get there!

  • Thanks for sharing, Andrea! It’s crazy to think that was almost 9 years ago!! Looking back I was WAY too obsessive about sleep with both kiddos. I’m glad I did BW, but like you, wish I would have held them more and worried less.

    One goal I’ve set for our family this year is to overhaul our eating habits…less processed foods (including refined sugar and flour) and less eating out.

  • Avatar Katie L says:

    As a Momma who is currently dealing with a 9 month old baby girl who in no way shape or form has ever slept through the night, reading that someone else has had struggles really makes me feel not so alone! We have started sleep training but I really never let her cry in the middle of the night. We are still BF and I truly feel like BF babies just wake more often during the night bc they want that bonding time. I’ll allow it, she’s only little for a short period of time. I love to hear that in a couple years a sleep schedule won’t be a big deal- there is hope!
    Glad to hear that you are sticking with your nightly routine of washing face etc. I do it and sometimes I feel like a shower and face washing is the only bit of me time that I get. It’s like exercising- you won’t ever be sorry you did it! 🙂

  • This is truly one of the scariest parts of motherhood for me… Sorry, babe!

  • Avatar nicole says:

    As a mom of a 15 month old who still wakes once a night at 3am (he is also our third) I say AMEN. I also have earned an honorary PhD in sleep training from all of the books/research I have read. I thought third time I’d have this sleep thing down pat, instead I’ve learned there is no magic formula! When I have a grumpy, tired morning I remind myself-this is a season. And I know…soon enough……I will miss it with all of my heart! Thanks for putting words to this trying, yet joyful period with young babies!

  • Avatar Torrie says:

    I just have one babe (well, 15 month old babe!) right now, but we were gifted the Baby Whisperer before she was born and have loosely followed it from day one. We essentially sleep trained her, but we were never rigid enough about following a precise schedule or times – just a general routine. WE dropped night feedings at her cues and haven’t pushed for her to sleep longer than when she was ready. It was like magic! We had her sleeping through the night at 8 months (which I’m sure Tracey herself wouldn’t like, haha) but overall it worked for us. I am not a fan of Babywise personally, as I’ve seen my SIL do it and was letting her daughter CIO at 12 weeks to try to get her to sleep through the night. Not my cup of tea, personally! We still have nights we get up when she’s teething or sick, but overall we all sleep through the night. I’m planning on using the same methods with baby #2, so wish me luck! 😉

  • Avatar Lynzy says:

    So excited that so IG friends referred me to you! I just love your blog and I am now losing some precious ZzZZs because instead of being in bed, I am reading your entire blog. Thanks for that 😉

    JK. I love this post. It totally speaks to me. Every baby is SO different and they all fall into their own sleeping patterns. My little Olivia has been a handful and we still have a lot to learn but thankfully I am getting more than — ohhh — 3 hours of sleep a night.

    Cannot wait to follow along with you!

  • Avatar KateF says:

    I enjoyed reading this. I have a Hayden but my Lucas is about to turn 4 and still doesn’t sleep through the night. Teases us every now and then by doing so for 2 or 3 nights but then it’s back to waking once or twice. I gave up last year with reading books, stressing myself & got very sick of having the same conversation about it with my mummy friends. However if another person tells me “not to worry, you will have the opposite problem when he’s a teenager” I think I’ll knock them out, do they not realise how many years away that is 😉 Thankfully my 18 month old couldn’t be more different. Thanks for the enjoyable read and I hope Hayden figures it out and you are not still having sleepless nights when he is 4.

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