I don’t know who needs to hear it, but your baby doesn’t need to sleep through the night.
If your baby doesn’t sleep through the night, there’s nothing wrong with that.
There’s nothing wrong with your baby.
There’s nothing wrong with you.
“If you go in to the bedroom to help her fall asleep, don’t make eye contact. It’ll keep her from falling asleep,” I said to my husband.
Our daughter had to be maybe two months old, if that.
I followed lots of baby sleep Instagram accounts. There’s one in particular with millions of followers, who I won’t mention by name. It’s the Ferber method with cute little acronyms. I heard words like “sleep crutch” or “bad habit”.
I was indoctrinated to believe that there was something wrong with me and something wrong with my baby when she didn’t sleep through the night.
We never sleep trained, but I was beginning to use techniques that I had heard on these pages, such as not making eye contact for fear of stimulating my child’s brain. I thought there was something wrong with me for nursing her to sleep.
My daughter slept in three hour clusters for probably the first year of her life.
I thought I was damaging my kid by meeting her needs. I would get up for her every time she cried. Sometimes she was ravenous, other times she just needed a hug and a kiss and it was back to bed. Sometimes she had a bad dream and just wanted to be comforted.
There were so many nights I got just a few hours of sleep and so many mornings where I could barely function.
I thought I was a bad mom.
We decided we weren’t going to let her cry.
I don’t remember how it happened, or if it started truly was a conscious decision as first.
I was the one to get up with the baby (I had the boobs and I didn’t have a job). My husband understood that some nights were harder than others. We got a lot of takeout and I let the laundry go another day and no one died.
It’s what worked best for our family.
I unfollowed all those accounts.
I didn’t need to defend myself to anyone.
I could complain that I was exhausted and that didn’t mean I had to sleep train.
I vented to people who respected my decision and let me say how tired I was without needing to provide a solution. I hold those friends very close to my heart.
People love to ask two questions when you have a new baby, “are they good?” and “how is she sleeping? and they both are indescribably absurd. All babies are good babies. What does that even mean? And are they sleeping? Who cares. Are you sleeping? Great.
Recently, a mother of a 6 month old was telling me how her baby slept 11 hours the night before and offered to send me some tips. I nodded and said thank you.
And for a moment, that feeling came back.
That feeling that I was doing something wrong.
Or worse, feeling I was doing my baby a disservice by not meeting her needs. How crazy is that?
Of course, I came home and told my husband and reaffirmed my decision to get up with my daughter when she needed me.
I fully believe in my heart and maternal instincts that I’m doing and have done the right thing. The truth is that motherhood can be a wasteland – a vast expanse of loneliness and isolation. A lot of the times we’re making decisions for our children that aren’t supported or understood. The indistinguishable competition of motherhood is ruthless and unforgiving. It has no finish line or barometer. Most of the time I think we’re competing with each other in a desperate attempt to soothe our own defenselessness against the world.
I stand firm in my choice to accept my daughters needs and to listen to her.
I know this is a controversial topic. Maybe I’m putting this here because I don’t want to offend anyone in my life outside of this blog. Parenting is messy and in America today, mothers will likely never come out on top.