Friday, June 7, 2013

A Dream, Perchance, To Sleep

So I had a whole post written and ready to go about how Sam was finallyfinallyfinallyJesusHWaffle-LovingChristfinally sleeping through the night, and even posted a Facebook update to that effect, when  I experienced firsthand the karmic retribution for public parenting humblebragging. Because HAHA JUST KIDDING, IN YOUR FACE, SELF. Sleep sux 4eva and you suck for falling victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is "never get involved in a land war in Asia," but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a toddler when your last shred of sanity and will to live are on the line!

Before I continue: I realize that by writing a post about baby sleep, I am opening myself up to a world of crazy. Believe me, I’ve read dozens if not hundreds of articles and blog posts about getting kids to sleep through the night and every single goddamn time, it devolves into a comment bloodbath, with one side arguing that crying is the only way to teach kids to self-soothe and that co-sleeping and/or overly responsive parents [raises hand] are just total hippie pussies whose kids will be nursing until they’re 8 and the other arguing that letting babies cry alone is cruel and abusive and will break the parent-child bond and scar the kid for life, Dahmer-style.

I’m hoping we can avoid that here, and I think we can, because I want to say up front that I don’t think either of these stereotypes is true. And amazingly, no one has done a study on the childhood sleep habits of convicted felons! So we’re at an impasse.

[P.S. If you don’t have kids--or maybe even if you do and are just more laid-back than I am--I know you could give a shit about baby sleep, and for that I apologize. Listening to someone else’s theories on the subject is about as thrilling as listening to someone recollect their completely nonsensical dream that involves cameos by people you don’t know, or watching a slideshow of someone’s totally mediocre photos of famous monuments from that European capital they just visited. Look, kids, Big Ben! Parliament! Just ignore me.]

Anyway, as you might have guessed from my previous writings and tendency to do things like put breast milk in my eye as some kind of faith healing Hail Mary, I fall on the more liberal side of the parenting spectrum. A lot of this is due to my own upbringing. My parents were deeply committed to attachment parenting and co-slept with me for many years. I nursed way longer than that poor kid on the cover of Time magazine. According to my mother, I didn’t sleep through the night, not really, until I was six (and that was probably due to my sister’s arrival, which forced me into my own room). So it won’t surprise you to learn that at 20 months old, Sam continues to breastfeed and has slept in our bed for most of his life.

Some of you might be side-eyeing me HARD right now for my choices, but I stand by them. For a while, co-sleeping really seemed to work for us. Sam has always been a fussy and brief sleeper, and when he was an infant, having him in bed was the only way I could get any kind of rest, since all I had to do when he stirred every 90 minutes or so was pop a boob back in his mouth. But then, he got bigger. And he was still tossing and turning and waking every few hours, only now he could kick us in the temple and take up ¾ of our queen-sized mattress. Jeff and I, who pre-baby would spoon in our sleep, experienced the physical equivalent of continental drift.

By the time he was a year old (eight months ago, for those of you with excellent math skills), I had the nagging feeling that despite how fantastic his little head smelled nestled in beneath my chin, and no matter how much I loved feeling him breathing beside me, I wanted my bed back. Not only was my sleep suffering, but I really missed having time in bed with Jeff. And shut up. I’m not even talking about sex, I just missed doing the crossword next to each other like old-timers in our PJs.

Our problem was that for reasons we couldn't pinpoint, we simply could not effectively sleep train our kid. We’ve never felt comfortable letting him cry (again, no judgment, just not our bag), and all “gentle” methods failed us, mostly because we just couldn’t be consistent. Part of it was Jeff’s work schedule, which keeps him away from home some nights, part of it was the fact that we are both hopeless good cops, trapped in some kind of farcical buddy comedy of parenting, but most of it was just fear. We were afraid to try to to change anything and risk robbing ourselves of even more sleep. We couldn’t work up the effort to try anymore because we were just too tired. And that is why, after eight months of hemming and hawing and making Jeff have lots of “talks” about our “sleep plan,” which naturally thrilled him to no end, I decided to get myself the Mother’s Day gift of hiring a sleep coach.

Yes, I know how that sounds. And believe me, if I thought we could do it ourselves, I would have saved that money for my iTunes season pass to The Rachel Zoe Project... for the next 30 years. But I finally had to accept that Jeff and I could not bring ourselves to make a change without help, and I was afraid that if we didn’t get help, we’d be co-sleeping with Sam until kindergarten (and again, no judgment, just not my ideal). 

And YOU GUYS. The first night he slept all the way through. This was me when I woke up and realized the sun was up and he hadn't been kidnapped and/or hogtied:

Cue humblebragging across social media platforms. But then, I guess, Sam was like, Been there, done that, now I want to see what's up at 3 am. Is there a Blue's Clues: After Dark? 

Now this is me every morning:

I know we can make it. We're just starting out, after all. And look, if Jimmy Fallon and Queen Latifah could foil a bank heist in a taxi, two lazy assholes can get ONE toddler to sleep, right?

On second thought, don't answer that. Just pass the wine.



  1. Love this. You are writing the story of my life right now. We're in the same boat with our 21 month old. Good luck with the sleep training. I'm hoping we work up the courage to attack it ourselves soon.

  2. GIRL, I feel you! Baby sleep is the bitchiest bitch EVER. Everything about being parents has been totally awesome except for figuring out the sleep stuff.

    After my boy (11 months) started waking at 4 and "patting" our faces with varying amounts of force to wake up and play, I actually bought a sleep package from We've been doing it really slowly, taking over a week, sometimes two, on each of the steps, but I have to's worked beautifully so far. With a few exceptions, baby boy has been sleeping for 5-7 hours at a stretch consistently ever since the second week.

    Aaaaand this humblebrag is gonna muffpunt me tonight, isn't it?

  3. Anonymous7:39 PM

    Fuck it, you're the parent, who cares what anyone else thinks. I breastfed my three sons 11, 9, and 6 months, which means I definitely earned the Booby Prize. We co-slept as long as it felt okay. They weren't potty trained until almost 4 years old. They're in college now and they're FINE!!!

  4. I'm so there and my kid is 14 months. I have photocopied many pages of a borrowed copy of the No Cry Sleep Solution but I am just too tired in the middle of the night to stay awake long enough to unlatch him over and over until he gives in. Reason being: he never gives in.

  5. Anonymous11:23 AM

    Feeling your pain also! My daughter finally started sleeping through the night when I night weaned her at 18 months, but I can't get the kid to go to sleep on her own. We thought we had figured it out, then like the stupid new parents we are, we decided to loosen up for the weekend and last night was two hours of tears, tantrums, bribes, and promises. This parenting thing is hard!

  6. Anonymous11:29 AM

    Good luck. It's worth it. You can do it. Sleep is so precious and so awesome. You deserve it.

    (I'm not even going to tempt fate and the 18 month sleep regression by relating my own experiences. Twin sleep = nightmare)

  7. psychsarah1:03 PM

    Just jumping in to say good luck and hope the sleep coach does the trick! Sleep deprivation is a cruel form of torture, even if the torturer is your own adorable spawn.


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