From an article originally posted January 8, 2014…
The early years of parenting were filled with angst and struggles over sleeping. I read books, asked friends, spent hours poring over the issue of sleep with my babies before Ella even arrived. I would read these books that had endless tips on how to get a wee babe to sleep all night long. Obviously, that sounded delicious. Amazing. Sign me up!
It didn’t take long for me to realize I was not made for a schedule. I barely know what day of the week much less what time of day it is. I read those books, but somehow I knew it wasn’t going to be my method. Thank goodness my instinct was more powerful than the suggestions I had been reading. At the heart of the books, I had to see my own desire was for myself and my own sleep. One day it dawned on me, I’m a mama during the day and at night. These little people need my love in the daylight hours and in my nighttime hours. Jason graciously agreed and he would often bring the needy child to me in the night.
There were nights I don’t think I pulled my shirt down. Nursing sometimes felt like it never ended. I would have moments where I desperately wanted my body back and had to push through those feelings to come on the other side of extending myself for my little love. I would be lying if I didn’t say there was always rejoicing in a full night of sleep. It felt miraculous. Something about five uninterrupted hours of sleep feels amazing when you are sleep deprived.
There were always two questions I was asked when I had a small baby in tote: 1. Is he/she a good baby? Yes, I always answered. 2. Does he/she sleep well? And my answer was always, No, not a bit.
I cringe that these two things are linked. Good baby and the ability to sleep are just absolutely asinine. I always wanted to be courageous enough to say, Heck, no, my good baby doesn’t sleep through the night, but guess what? They are so good, they cry when they need me and they know the goodness and love of their mama will meet them at dark thirty, day twenty, or oh-my-goodness-not-again fifteen. That in each of those exhausting moments, we were there. Feet in our face, being pushed to the edge of reason and exhaustion, we were there.
So people, I beg you!!!! Stop equating a good baby to a sleeping baby. Babies need love around the clock. Love on young mamas by offering to do some of their daily routine so they can rest. If they have multiple ones and a baby, take the bigs to a park so mama can nap when her baby naps. Her good baby has been keeping her loving all night long, and she needs a rest.
Last night a little girl sleeping in a huge tutu made her way to my side of the bed. She gently pat my face, and without words I made room for her. I’m not sure if it was a bad dream or that she simply needed my love at that moment. It’s my high calling and privilege to meet my kids where they are in each moment reasonable and unreasonable. I woke to the scratchy tutu and she and I hugged and giggled and loved each other awake this morning. It may end up being the very best of this day.
I know not everyone agrees with this philosophy. I’m not trying to convince anyone how I parent. My heart is that we would stop thinking sleeping babies are the good babies. That just isn’t the case. My four babies were the best babies I could have asked for or imagined, and not a single one of them came sleeping through the night.
We enjoy more sleep as our kids have grown, but that short season of sleeplessness was a gift. I treasure those little years loving, nursing, meeting my little ones in the night. It was a great gift to be the mama of sleepless, needy babies. I will always greet the tutu beside my bed with a kiss and making room to comfort them as they need it.