One of the most common questions Ross and I consistently get asked is “Is he sleeping through the night yet?”
I hate this question. I feel like I am supposed to answer it with a specific and expected reply and it bugs me that there is even an expectation that Kale should be. Like, somehow we are failing because the answer is no, he is not. That said, it’s an answer I am totally okay with. I honestly don’t expect Kale to sleep through the night for many months to come and I don’t really care. We didn’t sign up for a baby because we wanted to sleep 12 hours a day.
But then you hear about these babies (who I secretly don’t think exist) who suddenly start sleeping through the night at 4 months or something, and their parents proudly proclaim it like their child is a genius and you and your family might as well be idiots since OBVIOUSLY you haven’t figured out the magic secret yet.
The answer to the sleep question, in my world, should realistically be “of course not” rather than a simple “no”.
Kale is 5 months old and breastfed. He’s starting spacing out his daytime feedings to about 3 hours consistently and he has usually two naps a day – one at about 11:00AM and one at about 4:00PM. I’ve been trying harder to get those naps down to a more specific time so that he learns a consistent routine, with varying success. Some days his naps are 30 minutes, some days they are 2 hours, and if he wakes in a screeching sort of way, I can usually tell if he needs to sleep more or if he’s done. He’s truly done a nap when he wakes cutely and I can hear him talking to himself – “guyguyguy” – while he waits for me to come and pick him up and play.
He gets a bath every two nights (he has my dry skin so a bath nightly won’t work for us) and he usually goes to bed for the night at about 7:00 – 7:30PM and will generally sleep till about 11:00PM before wanting a feeding and then another big sleep until about 4:00AM. He’s usually up at about 6:00AM or so when Ross gets up to work and another feeding and then he joins me in bed. We doze and sleep and cuddle and play and sometime around 9:00AM or so, we get up. I get dressed and cleaned up for the day while he plays and chews on his feet or watches, and then its his turn to get dressed and cleaned up.
If we have errands to run during the day, I plan them for in between the two naps, and if Ross and I have plans to go out for dinner or visiting, Kale still goes to bed at his normal time even if we aren’t at home, usually in a nest of his same blankets and other familiar things.
I am trying really hard to find a routine, tweak it, and stick to it and to be patient while we all make that routine a habit that we don’t even need to think about. But this past few weeks has been R-O-U-G-H on both Ross and I – sleeping has not been coming easy to Kale and it is a valiant struggle each and every time. We can tell he’s tired and yet he will cry and moan and screech and struggle to stay awake, his little toaster eyes flying open – PING! – like two pieces of toast popping up to tell us that they are done.
I’m getting tired of it, to be honest. I’m tired of listening to him and feeling so horrid while he cries and I pat trying to soothe him. I’ve tried doing all the normal things that have previously worked – the patting, the shhh-ing, the rubbing. I’ve also tried simply being quiet and laying my hands on him, I’ve tried putting him down and smiling and cheerfully saying “goodnight baby!” and walking away. I’ve tried singing. I sing a lot of lullabies I didn’t even know I knew.
Some days nothing works, and some days anything would work. We are all over the map.
Kale’s been working on some big, BIG milestones lately – he’s now actively rolling about and flipping from front to back with no difficulty and this past week he realized how to get his feet under him when he’s on his belly and push his bum up. I know its only a matter of a few short weeks before he figures that out and starts working on crawling. He’s also still teething – or at least, I think he is. Still no teeth. He clutches at his ears now and then and chews chews chews on stuff when its presented to him and his gums are white. But no teeth have popped through.
When we were home in the very early days, our midwife, Linda, would say to us when things got really hairy here and there as we tried to learn what Kale was telling us: “Remember guys, this is Normal Newborn Behaviour“. I keep trying to feel the same way now. This is NORMAL. And I should NOT PANIC.
I’m resisting googling “sleeping problems” because I am trying really hard to maintain to myself that Kale doesn’t have a sleeping problem. He’s a friggin’ busy 5 month old in the throes of major development. I don’t want to read all sorts of methods for “sleep training” because while I do heartily believe that sleep is a learned skill (just like breastfeeding is), I do NOT believe that you can “train” a baby to magically fall asleep like some pavlovian experiment. I’m resisting asking on any of the online forums I participate in because no one knows Kale the way we do, no one will have the same hunches and instincts about him that I do, and reading suggestion after suggestion after suggestion will only confuse what I already know.
We have to work through this together, as a family, and we will. I have every confidence that we will. But right now? Ugh, seriously, its HARD to be confident sometimes. Every time someone asks “so is he sleeping through the night yet?” I feel this horrible niggling in the back of my mind that somehow I am missing the boat to dreamland and I really start questioning myself. Parenting has challenged so many things I previously believed about myself. I’m thankful for that, even if I have to remind myself that I am.