I’ve got a four month old baby. This post is about some of the struggles we’ve had with sleep so far.
Before N was born, I knew I wanted to co-sleep with her, but didn’t realize how much easier it would make my life in the first few weeks. Once I’d discovered the lying-down nursing position, I stayed mostly asleep during night feeds. I liked (like) being close to her while she’s calm and still, the affirmation that we are both so good at breastfeeding that we can do it in our sleep, warming each other with body heat. It was like being pregnant without the discomfort.
As she grew (and believe me, this girl grows) it began to get more uncomfortable. She is long and flaily, and kicks and punches and wriggles and basically takes up far more than a third of the not-quite-double bed. I still didn’t move her to the cot, because I didn’t want to. She started the night out in there quite often, and I would lie awake staring at the mattress monitor until she needed a comfort feed (usually about an hour in) then hold her close and sleep the rest of the night.
Then, not too long ago, I realized that she’s not benefiting from co-sleeping as much as I am. She wants to be able to move around and that’s not really something that can happen in our bed; she is comfort-sucking to get back to sleep when she is more or less capable of getting to sleep on her own anyway; very recently, she has started waking up and crying because she is too hot cuddled against me.
For about a week now, she’s had daytime naps in her cot. I was very much against this idea for a long time: I didn’t want to be running up and down the stairs during the day, felt like she should be close to me so that I could make sure she was still alive, felt like she would sleep better close to me. This transitional period is hard: she wakes every 45 minutes, and sometimes she’ll go back to sleep, sometimes she needs one of us to roll her over on to her side, sometimes she needs a cuddle or even to comfort suckle. I watch the audio monitor like a hawk and jump a little every time one of the lights flickers. But she sleeps for longer, and is happier when she wakes up. At night, she goes to bed in her cot, comes out occasionally for feeds or comfort feeds, moves between our bed and hers depending on how tired I am and how awake she is.
My thoughts about sleep are fragmented, disjointed, just like my sleep patterns. But it’s okay. I don’t like it when she wakes up at 5am and refuses to go back to sleep or even to be quiet, but I’ve never been a great sleeper. I don’t mind feeding her during the night but I would like to know that she can sleep through. What I want is for N to be able to go to sleep without the crutch of a nipple and sleep through the night. I like our pre-sleep and mid-sleep feeding sessions, so I don’t need her to do without them entirely.
(P.S. How awesome is the idea of a floor bed?! I wish I had more room and could do that, but unfortunately there are some pieces of child-unfriendly furniture in the nursery. N’s floor bed will have to wait until we move, or until I figure out a new way of storing clothes and books.)