Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Dream Come True

Four years ago, when Jackson was still a tiny infant, it was a dream of mine to have a child (and future children) who slept through the night on a consistent basis. It was a simple dream, but one I pined for desperately. Our first born was not a sleeper. He loved being awake and was a very aware child. I recall Shawn and I going to our birth class reunion with all the other parents we'd learned deep breathing with. All the babies were about a month old, including ours. Shawn and I were stunned to see a dozen or so babies all sleeping soundly or at the very least cuddling quietly in their parents arms. Not ours. Our son, all of one month of age, was jumping in our arms. He would push his legs against our laps and bounce up and down. The class all politely giggled at his antics, but I'm sure inside they were all thanking their stars for the calm in their arms. Our pals from class, Gary and Laurie, who's daughter shares a birthday with Jackson, still laugh about our bouncing newborn.

And so, our child did not sleep. He did not sleep for many, many months. All our friends' children were sleeping 9-12 hours a night. Ours averaged 3 hours at a time. Shawn and I walked around like zombies those first 9-10 months. We read the books. We talked to our pediatrician. We swaddled and white noised and rocked - you name it we tried it. We even attended an infant sleep seminar looking for answers. Finally we gave into the CIO (cry it out) routine and thankfully it worked within 3 nights. It was a difficult, long three nights ,but it worked. Our son was sleeping a full nights sleep for the first time ever, and he seemed happier, as did we. But he still woke every morning at 5:30am for the day. We struggled with this for over a year, and by the age of 18 months his awake time stretched to 6-6:30 am... and that is where he stands today at the age of 4. Even if he happens to go to bed later than norm (which is very rare in its own right), he is up at 6:30 in the morning, like an alarm clock.

And the sleeping through the night thing has wavered over the years as well. He began waking in the middle of the night again after we moved to Colorado. And again when he was two and moved to a big boy bed (because he discovered he could climb out of the crib). And again around the age of three he woke because of a profound fear of bees in his room (there were none). So to say we have struggled with his sleep is an understatement. But at last, knock wood and throw salt over my shoulder, he is sleeping soundly through the night. He rarely wakes in the middle of the night anymore, and if he does, he goes quickly back to sleep. I do believe with all my heart that our strict sleep training after that initial bout with CIO is what got us to this place. If we had not stuck with it he would still be a "poor" sleeper and we would still be zombies.

Now as for Holden, he has been a fairly good sleeper since birth. His stay in the hospital at 3 months for RSV was the only big hiccup we faced. I will say he was not sleeping through the night until about a year, but his waking was usually just once, and that was to nurse. Once I weaned he was always zonked out until morning. I feel very lucky and fortunate for this. And he's a superb napper as well. I should give Jackson some credit on that point -- he was a great napper until he gave them up about a year ago. Occasionally he'll doze off during quiet time, but that is rare.

But the point of my post is that I feel (again knock wood and toss the salt) that we have reached a good place with regards to our children's sleep. Sleep is so important -- and by that I mean for us! Shawn and I need our zzz's - any parent does. It is exhausting work keeping up with kiddos on a constant basis, and I treasure my sleep immensely. I am hoping our biggest hurdles with regards to sleep are past us. I still wince when 6:30 rolls around on a Saturday morning and there's a bright eyed boy staring down at me asking for cereal. But I know that each night when I tip toe in to kiss both boys a final good night, I'm doubtful to hear from them until morning. And that makes me enjoy my sleep even more.

Four years ago I was certain we would never have a solid nights sleep again. Now I sleep quite soundly most nights. Like a baby, some might say. Some dreams do come true...at least until Holden figures out climbing out of his crib.


Katie said...

You are one lucky mom! Ethan and Owen are okay in the sleep department, Ethan just likes to sneak into bed with us at 2 am when I am totally comatose! I realize at 6 am that he's sweetly snoring between hubby and I, but it's getting a little old. And gosh forbid Owen decides to try it when he gets his twin bed! That's why he'll be in his crib until he climbs out, just like Holden!


Tales from the Crib said...

Katie! Would you believe that Holden woke up in the middle of the night last night?!?!? Unbelievable! And he did not want mama, he wanted Daddy! Kids!

Katie said...

Sorry to jinx ya! Ethan crawled in with us sometime between 4-5 am, so I feel the pain! Hope you have a great weekend with your friends!