Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sleep, Where For Art Thou?

Over the three and a half years I've been on this parenting journey I think I've used just about every method of getting a baby or toddler to sleep there is. I have sung, rocked, danced, pushed the pram, bounced on a fit ball, driven, breastfed, patted bottoms, and even in one moment of desperation, control cried (all that ended up happening was both of us crying, and I swore I'd never do it again). All of this has taught me one thing. Babies (and toddlers and children) will sleep when they are ready to. All we can do is help them along the ride.

Elliot, now three and a half, has always been a good sleeper - once he's asleep! He is a deep and sound sleeper but not good at actually going to sleep. When he was a little over two he just said to me one day when we were having the sleep battle "But I just need people with me". What can you say to that? He has always needed and still does need someone (me, Daddy, Nanna, Pop) to be with him until he is asleep. Fortunately for me (cause I get him into bed and Matt does Archie) he seems to have found a solution, he goes to sleep in Mummy's and Daddy's bed on the condition that he's in there by himself. Later when we're ready to go to bed Matt will take him back into his room. If he wakes through the night, he simply brings himself back in with us and more often than not, neither Matt nor I realise he's there til the morning (or when we're up with Archie)!

 Elliot (7 weeks) being nursed to sleep by Pop

Elliot (14 months) waking up with Nanna after a sleepover.
And on to Archie. For every bit that Elliot is a deep sleeper, Archie is a light sleeper. He has the same issues as El with needing people, so someone has always needed to put him to sleep but then he's awake. And then back to sleep, then awake, then back to sleep, rinse, repeat. For the first, hmmm, probably ten months of his life he fed every 1-2 hours around the clock, day and night. To say it was exhausting is an understatement because while sometimes he'd feed back to sleep, more often than not at night, he was awake. Sometimes cranky, sometimes just awake and wanting to play. It was through all of this that we seriously started co-sleeping because we were just too tired to do anything else and anyway, nothing else worked!!! But eventually (and I mean, in the last couple of months) he's just gotten into a little sleeping routine that works for all of us. Matt takes him to bed in the evening and they rock in the chair and sing songs. When he wakes the first time through the night he comes in with us. Some nights he has a feed back to sleep, some nights he has a feed and isn't asleep but puts himself back to sleep and some nights he's not interested in a feed and just fusses around giving us pats and kisses and then puts himself to sleep, usually on top of the covers with his feet in our faces. He is generally only up once or twice a night now which I'm just over the moon about considering where we've been on his sleep journey!

Archie (4 weeks) have a nap with Nanna *

 Archie (5 weeks) sleeping in the sling which was a sleep lifesaver for both boys. *
I'm really pleased that both boys have found their own sleeping patterns because, as tiring as it has been, I can sit back and know that we listened to them and what they needed at the time. We respected them as little people and didn't impose unrealistic expectations which would have set us and them up for failure (aside from that one horrid moment of controlled crying, which failed dismally). We were willing to give them the time they needed.

* When going through all the baby photos for sleep pics, I realised that we don't have many of Archie. At first I put this down to being the second child, poor hard done by wee man he is, but then when I was talking to Matt about it he said "It's because he didn't sleep!"


  1. That was beautiful Vic :) It takes incredible patience (even now!) doesn't it and as much as I try sometimes I just can't be that all the time. So when my younger boy next wakes me in the wee hours, numerously, I'll remember this and know I'm not alone :) (although he is a lot older!!!!)
    Loved your baby pics too - we don't have so many of Master 9 because we didn't have a digital camera when he was really, very little. Thank goodness for technology, hey :D

  2. Beautiful post Vicki. :) So appreciate and empathise with everything you've said. I think Will has slept through the night once in his life!! And Saraya was an every hour round the clock feeder as well. It is so tiring. But we're all getting there, hey?! :P Time's a-ticking and we've got these beautiful little people to enjoy. And they won't be little forever.

  3. What a lovely approach, wish I'd been more like it but didn't really need to, you and Carl were good sleepers for the most part. I think we are all the reason Elliot needs 'people', he was just soo adorable none of us could bear not to be with him :).
    They all get there in their own time and I'm not a good sleeper so perhaps Archie gets it from me!! God bless you and Matt for being such tolerant and patience parents and giving them both the time to sort themselves out.
    Love you all, Lynne

  4. Sleep is definitely one of those tricky things that you sometimes just have to go with the flow because there's nothing else you can do. It sounds like you've handled it beautifully and patiently Vic. xo

    P.S. I've tagged you over at my blog if you want to play along.:)

  5. Ahhh sleep. It still eludes us at our house too, with both boys (around the same ages I think as yours?) having their issues, sometimes simultaneously. Most nights one of them is in our bed, or one of us is in theirs! In lots of ways it's precious, and I just appreciate that it's not the horror it was early on. Plus, they both go down at night for us well now, so we get some precious couple time in the evenings which is ace. Worth the frequently early mornings... just good to know and be reminded by your post that we are not alone in these issues. Thanks Vic.