When you’re pregnant for the first time, people warn you of how exhausted you will be during the newborn stage. Your baby won’t sleep through the night. She’ll wake up every two hours wanting to eat, and you’ll wake up every two hours to feed her. You won’t shower. You’ll only eat granola bars and coffee. But then she’ll be four months old, and you can sleep train her.
We didn’t sleep train Lily until she was, I don’t know, 10 months old? I can’t even remember. I’m so tired that I didn’t realize until typing this that Maggie is almost 10 months old now. I mostly worked part-time when Lily was little, so this wasn’t an issue. I’d sleep until she woke up in the morning, and this was enough for me. But sleep training for us meant she only woke once during the night, not that she necessarily slept through. Sometimes she slept in our bed, and this was fine. We went through periods of her waking incredibly early but they were short-lived. Once she was potty-trained, we expected her to wake up at night because even I can’t sleep through the night without using the bathroom. But we weren’t exhausted. I knew we had gotten lucky, and I didn’t take it for granted.
Then we had Maggie. She may have had colic, we’re really not sure. Until she was 7 weeks old she could cry for 3-4 hours in the evening inconsolably while struggling to latch. Then suddenly it stopped. She started going to bed really nicely in the evening. Even now, she goes down at 7pm like clockwork. But then, like clockwork, she wakes between 9:45pm-10pm. I’d like to be asleep by 9, but this nagging in the back of my head won’t let me because I know I’m going to be up in an hour anyway. And then she wakes up again. And again. And again.
Last night she woke up at 9:30pm, 11pm, 12pm, 1:15am, and then I stopped looking at my phone. Cry-it-out isn’t working. Ferber, graduated whatever, nothing is working. You can’t let a baby scream all night when you need some semblance of sleep, and you have a preschooler in the next room over who will end up in your bed, sleeping with her leg draped over your neck night after night as her sister wakes her up. So we go in and pick her up and she giggles up at us before immediately falling asleep on our shoulders, a perfect, warm puzzle piece just wanting to slip her nose into the familiar scent of our necks and settle her fleece-covered body into our arms. And we get up the next morning. We forgo running, we forgo a clean house, barely functioning. We stumble through the day hoping we don’t forget an important meeting or budget submission, and then lay awake in the dark as the minutes tick by waiting for the other to go in and make her stop crying, or to drift off to sleep for a moment before she wakes her sister.
So what do we do with the baby who won’t cry it out? How do we make her sleep? Do we have a family slumber party in the basement without her, rotating who gets to join Lily on the futon every hour? What’s your sleep training advice?