Gabriel and I share a bed.
It started with our first night together in the hospital. It was 2am, I was awake, and there was a cute baby in the room. Couldn't be helped.
I made valiant efforts to get him to sleep in his crib. Sometimes he noticed the crib and protested, sometimes not. I remember this one fluke of a night where he went from midnight to 7am in the crib. I woke up to daylight, in a panic.
We got off to a good start. He'd go down between 7 or 8 in the crib, awake and happy as a clam (sometimes). Whenever he woke up for the 2am feeding, I would stumble over, grab him, and plop him beside me for another 6 hours of sleep. I figured at some point he would extend the sleeping sessions until we made it all night.
And then some things changed. I spent a month traveling around North Carolina. It was easiest to keep him in the bed with me. I figured it was only temporary, that we'd be back with a crib in a few weeks and it wouldn't be too hard to transition him back into sleeping alone.
So that was May. Five months later, we are still not quite in crib land again, and it's time to make some changes to the way we're sleeping. Here's the breakdown:
1. The primo concern is that I've been charting his sleep, and he isn't getting enough. The recommended sleep totals for a 10-month-old baby, including naps and overnights, are 14 hours. He gets 13 on a good day and is averaging somewhere around 12.
2. I noticed somewhere in the haze and fog of single-parenting a baby that going to sleep at night had become more and more of a struggle for him. I think it happened around the time he started crawling. He's always had a tendency to fight going to sleep and then wake himself up once he finally got there, but it's been really bad lately. If he senses that he's nodding off, he rolls over, pushes his drowsy self up, and looks around until he sees something interesting enough to lunge toward.
3. (Or maybe this should be 2b.) I was spending well over an hour - sometimes well over two hours - trying to "parent" him to sleep. And this is not counting the many, many minutes spent on pre-nap and bedtime nursing. Have you ever done that? I don't recommend it for those who would prefer their sanity remain intact. By the time he'd find the sweet relief of naptime, I would be either a. too exhausted to get myself up and moving toward accomplishing something, so I'd get my own nap or b. too mush-brained to figure out what to do with my newfound freedom, let alone do anything remotely productive. It was a very frustrating, astonishingly and almost frighteningly unproductive time. I have never felt so trapped, inadequate, and terrified of the future.
4. I found a (super awesome) job I can do at home, but it comes with a 9am deadline every weekday morning. I did some math and came to the conclusion that I needed to start getting up at 6:30 each morning. Fine with me, but the problem is that Gabriel got up at 6:30 with me. Not only was Mr. Early Riser-pants's early rising not conducive to my getting work done, it was exacerbating all the other sleep concerns. It turns out that alarms loud enough to wake me also wake him, and alarms quiet enough for him to sleep through are also quiet enough for me to sleep through. Oops. (Side note: the first person who invents an in-ear alarm that only the wearer can hear and won't fall out at night and won't cause hearing damage or brain cancer is my new bestie. You're welcome, for the million-dollar idea.)
(part 2 coming soon)