Written By: Samantha Gencarello Schwartz
When you make the decision to bring a child into this world, you are told time and time again to sleep now before the baby comes. Babies are synonymous with sleep deprivation. You think you’re ready. You think you can handle it. You are so wrong.
My daughter is going to be 19-months old, and I haven’t slept in that entire time. That may be a slight exaggeration, but the sleep I used to have before baby is gone for all eternity. What nobody tells you before that baby pops out and ruins, I mean, brings joy to your life, is that some babies are just not good sleepers. They will not learn to sleep the way you want them to sleep no matter what you do. There are no methods to the madness of non-sleepers, and if you are dealt that hand, I say to you, come join my tribe. We have coffee. We have wine. We welcome you to hell with open, tired arms. We shall look at mothers of babies who sleep in wonder, awe, and envy together. We will question what we did wrong in a past life to warrant such suffering. We will have more coffee and more wine.
So, since I am almost 19-months into this life sentence of sleep deprivation, I’ve come up with some tips and tricks for those of you entering the mom tribe of bad sleepers. Just follow these simple steps and you will be able to cope. Maybe
- Get your baby out of your room before they are six months old. Seriously – whether you are breast or bottle feeding, remove the child from the vicinity of your person. But then again, if they scream bloody murder and throw up on themselves from crying when you do put them in their own room – like my daughter did at first – by all means bring them back in your room. Maybe I should have mentioned that all of these rules are meant to be broken at any given moment because for moms of bad sleepers, the babies own us and we do not own them.
- If you want to try the cry it out method, don’t listen to people who say that it will ruin your child for all eternity. I’ve done it three times with my daughter, and it is the only reason she is not awake for the entire night. I won’t lie to you, it’s probably going to be the worst few days of your life, but at some point it seemed to work for us so it may work for you. Invest in a white noise machine or some noise canceling headphones. Or better yet, hire a babysitter and get yourself a hotel room and go away for 3 days and let someone else deal with the kid. Just kidding. Maybe.
- Don’t co-sleep. Or actually, do co-sleep. Honestly, who cares how anyone is sleeping as long as you are getting some sleep, am I right? I co-slept with my daughter for almost three-months straight because it was the only way I was getting any rest and now she stays in her crib without a problem. Most of the time. Some days she is still up at 3:30 calling for me to come in my bed. I guess I’m not an expert on these matters. Seriously, why are you even listening to me?
- Most importantly, don’t listen to any advice you don’t want to hear. If you have a bad sleeper and you’ve tried everything and someone says, “Well maybe you just aren’t trying hard enough. Have you tried [a stupid idea you’ve already tried 100 times]? Because [that stupid idea you’ve already tried 100 times] worked for us!” I give you permission to stab them. But only in your mind. Because I don’t think that prison has better sleeping arrangements. They might though, so if you go that route let me know and maybe we can be cell mates and get some rest together.
In any event, just know that if you are the mom of a bad sleeper, you aren’t alone. There are so many of us. You can find us by spotting the dark smudges under our eyes. You can come up to us and give the signal of being the mom of a bad sleeper, which is to fall on the floor in exhaustion, and we will scoop you up and give you hope. And by that I mean coffee and wine. If we have nothing else, at least we will always have coffee and wine. And in 16 years’ time we can creep into the rooms of our sleeping teenagers with pots and pans and bang them and prance around at 3 AM to give them a little taste of what they did to us at the beginning of their lives. Revenge shall be sweet!