Surviving Newborn Sleep

Whenever you have a new baby, sleep is always a hot topic. I can’t tell you how many times I Googled something related to sleep or sleep schedules – there were many desperate nights early on!

As a new Mom, I really was ill prepared for newborn sleep. I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t know the difference between co-sleeping or bed sharing; I was clueless. I knew that the universal recommendation is that parents and newborn children sleep in close proximity to one another and I don’t know why but my entire pregnancy I was blindly focused on getting the nursery ready for the baby. I literally didn’t give a single to thought into where she would sleep and what she would sleep in when we brought her home. I guess I just assumed she’d sleep in the stupid expensive crib we bought her! 

That first night was rough. I cried because she was crying and I had no clue how to get her to sleep. I remember sitting with her in the nursery at 1 am, lights on (wrong!), and I was just praying for sleep. When she finally fell asleep, I laid her in the crib (we didn’t have an alternative) and I tried sleeping on the floor next to her crib. Needless to say, neither of us slept well and I knew I had to figure out another sleeping arrangement or I’d never survive. All I wanted was restful sleep – who doesn’t? – because I am not someone who functions well when I’m exhausted. Plus! I was violently ill for 3 weeks postpartum and constantly felt nauseous – not even Zofran helped.

After our really bad first night, Sikmon and I took turns sleeping on the couch with the baby while the other slept in bed. He took the late shift (11pm-3am) and I took the early shift (3am-7am). Doing this helped him get some sleep before work, and helped my body recover from vomitting all day. It worked well but it meant that whoever had the baby slept on the couch like this:

 

After my sickness finally wore off a few weeks later (maybe one day I’ll feel ok enough to blog about it), I started laying her down to sleep in this bassinet next to our bed that we purchased second hand from a co-worker. We used the bassinet for maybe two months and it was ok. It was nice to sleep in the bed again but I really didn’t love it. I worried so much every time she slept in it – so much so that she’d sleep for several hour stretches but I was up and awake every hour checking on her. Was she cold? Was she breathing? She felt so far away even though she wasn’t. I was a paranoid mess.

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That’s when we started bed-sharing and that’s when Sikmon got booted to the couch. Poor him – he slept on the couch for an entire year! Emie was 3-4 months old and as soon as we started bed-sharing, I was finally able to get good stretches of sleep again. I basically kicked Sikmon out of our room and our Cal-King bed so Emie and I could sleep together. Something about her sleeping right next to me gave me so much more peace of mind than when she was in the bassinet. We slept this way until she was about 5 months old.

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At 5 months we brought her crib into our room and transitioned her out of our bed and into the crib at the recommendation of our pediatrician. At that point she was a lot more mobile, rolling over and scooting, and I worried that she’d roll off the bed in the middle of the night. The transition to the crib was effortless and it helped us both gain some independence and longer stretches of sleep! Emie didn’t sleep through the night until she was 8-9 months old though – another reason Sikmon continued sleeping on the couch during this time – but moving her into the crib once again gave me the peace of mind to sleep soundly during the stretches that she did. And looking back, I question why we never moved her crib in here from the get-go?!

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When Emie turned a year old I had every intention to move her into the nursery and Sikmon back into our bed but a few things hung me up.

I was way too attached to our sleeping arrangement. It comforted me to have her close by but as she got older I think it hindered her sleep (and mine) more than it benefitted either of us. She’s a pretty great sleeper overall but I started noticing that she’d wake up in the middle of the night and would just sit there staring at me (laying in the bed) because she knew I was there. I knew she wasn’t sick, hungry, or wet because if I laid still enough she’d fall back asleep without issue – almost like mama, is that you?

Also…because both Sikmon and I work outside the house, our alarms would go off well before her wake time and we’d quickly silence them but on occasion our getting ready routine would wake her. Over the last 17 months we both got pretty good at dressing in the dark, we’d shower in the guest bathroom, but every once in a while she’d get woken up and be up all kinds of angry.

Aside from that, the main reason I held off for so long is that she has no doors on the main passage in and out of her room and I was concerned about light and sound passing through and disturbing her sleep. But after our recent announcement that we’re planning to sell our house in the coming months, the truth is this: it was safe to do so, Sikmon wanted to sleep in a real bed again, we need to put our house back together in order to sell / take listing photos, so back into the nursery she goes – doors or no doors.

About a month ago I dragged her crib into the nursery and haven’t looked back. I did it right after she woke up on a Monday morning so she could take her naps in there before having to sleep in the nursery overnight. That first day we talked a lot about sleeping in the nursery and how exciting it was going to be. Before her first nap, I allowed her to read books in her crib. I wanted her to get used to being in the crib in a new environment and also see that everything else – the crib, the sheets, the sound machine – was exactly the same as it had always been.

So far it’s been a massive success. It was a much easier and smoother transition than I ever expected and not having any doors hasn’t been an issue at all. We have heavy drapes on either side of the door way and just draw them closed during naps and bedtime. We keep an eye on her with our Yi Home camera that’s mounted on an adjacent wall over looking the crib. If we do hear her cry out in the middle of the night, I can just pick up my phone and watch for a few minutes to see what’s going.

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She sleeps between 11-12 hours a night and at 17 months old, is still taking 1-2 naps a day. We have a pretty consistent bed time routine and making sure all the major parts of her routine remained the same have been a huge help with keeping her sleep on track despite the transition.

I honestly still really miss sleeping with her in the same room but I know we’re both not only sleeping better – but Emie is sleeping longer! I call that a #momwin.

 

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