I started this post right after the New Year began. Since then things have calmed down (for a bit) but I thought I would post it anyway as a reminder to myself that Sleeps Swings. Oh, does it. And I included angelic pictures so you know I do love my kids. Sleep(lessness) and all.
It is pretty rare for me to write about the experiences of parenting outside of their monthly updates, but I thought I would do a post about the sleeping ‘habits’ of our almost 2 year old twins just for any one out there that might be interested. I am not big on advice (giving or receiving) being more of a experiential parent, so here is our latest experiences in sleep.
Oh, the other reason is during the few brief moments Carrie and I did get to converse during our meet up, we both mentioned that we just do not have good sleepers. Never been great with the sleep through the night thing, naps take help, etc. and I have to say it was a huge relief to talk to another parent that understood and had the same experience as we do. Because the boys have been on a schedule since day 1, but that does not negate their personal sleeping style. So…
All was going well for a bit in sleep land, I recall a few months of pretty good sleep. The boys were going down at 7, up around 6, 2 hour naps and minimal night intervention (i.e. the occasional replacement of paci). Then it started in December that we lost some of it, Mace then O, then Mace again. Verbalization started to steal some of their peaceful nights away. Mace would cry in a really frightened way. Then vacation when we slept in the same room and they ended up on the mattress with us every night due to incessant protesting from their p’n’p. Then home with Owen’s canines tearing through. We are talking kids that were up for hours in the night, unable to settle back, unable to be left, just unable, you know? This resulted in very tired and dragging parents/babies that were all feeling the strain.
Now, two things occurred to me as I write this and listen to Owen stir, talk in mid nap then settle himself back down. First, the whole notion of these babies of mine 'getting' sleep and 'keeping' it is just a notion. I know they can sleep through and put themselves back down, they have done it before. But I remind myself that there are times when they have a need, one for extra comfort or reassurance. Their world changes daily, not stable the way we adults try to maintain. They will need help and an extra cuddle and sometimes a warm parent to lay with for a bit to give them what they need. And these are things I am willing to do (in the day light hours it is easier to write that)(much harder at 1 a.m. to feel that).
So, there is now the knowledge that the sleep ‘bumps’ will smooth out. (BTW: This is the first time O has put himself back down in a few weeks, hence, the prompting for this post)(And if he would have gotten up and cried, I would have gone in and rubbed his back or held him or even laid down with him if needed, as this is for Macie too, so he can rest). It helps to write that because it reminds me that most of the tough times are temporary (haha, which means so are the ’easier’ times).
And the second point is, there are times when we realize we are doing too much and interfering with their sleep. Like when we smacked ourselves on the head this weekend after trying to soothe two really pissed off kids for an hour after they woke together at 11 or so, and our attempts were fruitless, and we left them to each other and they cried it our for awhile, and then fell asleep. So, it is a fine line, knowing when to ‘help’ and what to do. I personally feel like we cannot really do anything 'wrong' which I think frees us to try what we will and see what works. It is different for each child and it always will be. But it has also freed me from feeling like a failure as a Mama because my kids do not sleep well. It is so easy to assume it is something we have done, something we need to 'fix' but I realize for my family, it is what it is.
I think I felt the need to write this as a reminder that we all give birth to different children. We bring forth little ones that experience and process the world in unique and special ways. And they all sleep differently. I know we can ask for our children to follow a schedule and I think that is good. But I like to remember that we cannot 'take away' their individual experience and that we can honor their needs within reason. It empowers us as parents to let go of the notion that we create good/bad sleepers. I think we create the opportunity for healthy sleep, and then just take it from there.
And if you are reading and you are a parent with sleep challenges in your home and your little ones are young and you feel a bit desperate, I can say two things. It does get easier in a fashion, even if your little ones never become angelic sleepers. And, um, coffee? A Mama's best friend. Feel free to leave some comment love if you have found yourself in the same boat, so to speak. And if you had the little one that went down at 7 and woke at 7 starting at 2 weeks old...uh, maybe don't say anything. We on the other side might look up your address and bring our leftover noisemakers from New Year's to give you a taste of our night life. Just saying...