I don’t take it for granted that we got very, very lucky. The night after our son David was born, he slept six hours in one stretch. In fact, the nurse had to come in and wake me up to tell me to feed him.
The journey over the next few months had a lot of ups and downs. David didn’t get on a consistent sleep schedule. Sometimes he would go to bed later, sometimes earlier, and the intervals were unpredictable. But for the most part, he got a long stretch somewhere in there, or I was able to work something out where my husband took one feeding and gave me a longer stretch of sleep. So I pieced together enough sleep, for the most part, to feel pretty functional–even rested.
But then we hit the 4-5 month sleep regression, and it was brutal. David started waking up every two hours–every single night. I would go and feed him and get him back to sleep, then try to sleep myself only to be woken up a little while later and go through it all over again. I had discovered by this time that if I could get four straight hours of sleep, I was pretty functional. Five or more and I wasn’t even that tired. But less than four hours in a row? I never got deep sleep, I never got a complete sleep cycle, and I felt exhausted all the time. With exhaustion came frustration, headaches, and periods where I just cried because my emotions were all over the place.
I decided to talk to his doctor at a checkup that month. She said he didn’t need to eat that often anymore, and it had become just a comfort thing for him. She said we could try some sleep training. And so, my husband and I did. We fed David and put him to bed. He began to cry. We waited a few minutes. Went into comfort him. Put him back to bed. We repeated this for about two hours. His cries became so insistent it was hard for me to stay away. But finally, he fell asleep.
The next night, we did it all again. Again, it took two hours for him to settle down. By the third night I was about ready to give it up, hearing his crying so insistently was very hard for me. But we persisted. On night four, he went down right away. And he only woke up once that night. From that day, he has been a great sleeper. From months 5-10 he woke up once at night, took some milk and went back to sleep. After month 10, he began sleeping twelve hours at night–and he continued doing that through the present day. He is four now.
Those first three days were very hard. But sleep training was SO worth it. I was beginning to fall apart from exhaustion. It was so hard on me, emotionally and physically. But when I started getting great sleep again, I was able to be there for my husband and son the way I really wanted to be. I was present. I was engaged. And I was much happier. We all were.
Originally published July 2019