Back when C’s pediatrician first brought up the subject of our sleep and moving the baby out of our bedroom, she was maybe a month old, and I was appalled. I told him and my husband, “Maybe when she’s 6 months old or sleeping through the night. But I’m not having this conversation now.” I mean, what if there was an earthquake and I couldn’t get to her? What if somehow something got in her crib and was blocking her face and she couldn’t breathe? These were the thoughts in my head. I couldn’t imagine not having my baby right next to me in the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper. When the doctor he brought it up a second time, I mumbled my way through a response like, “Some day. We’ll see,” and thought, I wish he’d shut up about this.
Ladies and gentleman, I’m as surprised as anyone to admit this: C hit 3 months of age, and I wanted her out of my bedroom. Although it was reassuring to have her so close, so I could wake up, lift my head and look over at her, make sure she was still breathing, it was also not good for me. Because I did it a lot. Everytime she moved, which is often (who knew babies flopped around so much?) I had to check and see her, before I could go relax and go back to sleep. I had the normal new mom exhaustion, but on top of it, I had this obsessive need to reassure myself that she was OK. And it wasn’t good for me. And I eventually realized that as often as she was waking me up, I was waking her up too. I’d try to gently turn in my sleep, and then I’d hear her start flopping around. We’re both light sleepers, and we were both in need of peace.
I got to the point where I would try to ignore her flopping about. I knew she was fine, so I was trying to train myself not to open my eyes and lift my head and look over. And because my subconsious knew I was trying to ignore her, I started having really fucked up dreams. Like I-fucked-up-and-killed-someone’s-baby dreams. And I-accidentally-hurt-my-own-baby dreams. Every night. They were awful. I’d wake up with my heart pounding and covered in sweat, crying half the time. I’d sit up and reach over and place my hand on my daughter, to make sure she was still breathing. Then I’d go back to sleep, and right back into another fucked up dream. It blew.
When I started back at work, I changed my hours to 7 to 4. I had to wake up at 5am in order to get on the road in time. Which meant I was getting very little RESTFUL sleep. I was a zmombie. And I was really tired of the dead baby dreams. So after my first week at work, I told DH, “Tonight, let’s put her to sleep in her crib.” Which is IN ANOTHER ROOM, you guys! He felt my forehead to make sure I was OK.
I’m not going to say the first two nights weren’t really, really hard. I had the monitor cranked right by my head, paranoid that she’d need me and I wouldn’t hear her. I woke up and checked on her often. And when she woke up crying (because before, she would just stir, and I’d know she was hungry – She never had to cry to wake me up to feed her) I launched myself out of bed so fast, I fell down. And then I ran to her room. And when I couldn’t find her doorknob in the dark, “shitshitshitshitshit,” I almost broke the damn door down. By the time I got to her, her cries were like, “OH MY GOD, IS NO ONE COMING TO SAVE ME???!!!” It felt awful. And I almost considered bringing her back into our bedroom. But thankfully, I didn’t. I fed her and put her back down, and she was out. And then, you guys, she slept for 5. Hours. Straight.
That doesn’t mean I wasn’t still checking on her a lot those first few days and feeling anxiety all night. I was. But by day 3 of her in her own room, I was sleeping from 9pm to 3 or 4am. The most continuous chunk of sleep I’d had since before I got pregnant. And C is sleeping from 7:30 to 10 or 11, when DH gives her a sleep feed, then she has one wake up during which I feed her, then she sleeps until 7:30 IN THE MORNING. That’s 12 hours! Before this, she’d get unhappy around 5am, and one of us would have to take her out of her bed and cuddle her in the living room, during which she’d sleep for another two hours in our arms. That kind of sucked too.
But now, NOW, it is glorious. She doesn’t wake up before I leave for work, so I’m sad that I don’t get a snuggle in the mornings. But I sneak into her room and feast my eyes on my sleeping child for a few seconds, and that feels good too. We have our bedroom back, and although there’s still no action in that bed, there could be some day. And we are so close to sleeping through the night, I can taste it. But even if we aren’t, it’s totally manageable now. DH feeds her once and I feed her once. That is totally OK for however long that lasts. Because Mommy is getting some heavy, awesome, unicorns-and-rainbows sleep now. And it is making all the difference.
Hurray for sleep!!