Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Sleep Issue

As many of you who know me have heard (many, many times)... my daughter Anna and I haven't figured out the whole sleep thing yet.

For the longest time, this used to embarrass me.

I was somewhat ashamed that my daughter who was 7 months old, 8 months old, 10 months old... (whatever stage we were at) wasn't sleeping through the night and was still waking to nurse.

She's still doing it. Still at almost 1 year old.

I thought I had come to terms with it and had made peace with my exhaustion. That was... until I went to a Mommy and Me sing-song class yesterday morning.

We had to go around the circle and say a "happy/sad" thing about our babies or our lives. You know... "We're happy because so-and-so is starting solids soon! We're sad because he hates his bath time!" Anyway. So it was my turn and I proudly claimed:

"We're happy because Anna's first birthday is on Friday. But we're sad because she's still not sleeping through the night". And then I waited for the nods, knowing smiles and murmurs of "I've been there" and "Tell me about it" or "Little Billy doesn't sleep well either".

Instead, I got awkward stares and the comment "That IS sad" from one Mom.

I was a bit shocked. My experience with fellow Moms so far has been almost completely positive. I haven't felt judged or like I was the only one who didn't know how to get their baby to sleep.

But yesterday I felt that embarrassment creeping back again. In my head I was thinking "That's it. I have to immediately get home and get this sleep thing under control."

So I rushed home, stood in my doorway looking at my baby smiling up at me, laughing and waving (her new favourite thing) and I realized that everything was okay.

My baby doesn't sleep well... and that's okay. She's happy and healthy and she loves her Mommy and Daddy.

We're doing just fine.

Of course, then I remembered the words of encouragement I've heard in the past from my amazing Mom friends. Things like "My kids never slept well... and the only thing that worked was to give them time to figure it out" and "We're in the same boat as you, Hez" and "I totally understand. My daughter/son didn't sleep well until she/he was 15 months old".

So I took a deep breath and picked up my baby who hates to sleep and gave her a big kiss. Then we went downstairs to play.


  1. Tell me guys - when did your baby start sleeping all night long?

  2. Gray & Will are almost 10.5 months and still don't sleep all night long. But I like to tell myself that it's because they miss their mommy cuddles! Look forward to following your blog!

  3. Kailyn has always been a decent sleeper, but I do know mommas that have had the same issues that you and Miss Anna have. One of my girlfriends was getting up with her babe 5-6 times a night until her daughter was one.

  4. My friend Kim (who is a Mom of two and is AWESOME) had this to say. It's too good to not share with all the Mamas out there:

    About 15 months, but now he won't sleep past 5:30-6 am. Exhaustion is my middle name.

    One day we'll be in our own Del Boca Vista and giggling as N and Anna struggle with their own sleep issues. Man, will we giggle.

    And don't be embarrassed. I've found that the women that speak loudest are usually the most insecure. None of us know what we're doing. I can't tell you the amount of times I ask "now what?".

  5. Oh...is 5:30am early? That's what time K wakes up. Is it sad that I just thought that was "normal"? My almost 6-year-old still wakes up around 6am (sometimes earlier)...but at least now he can tell time and the rule is "no bothering mommy and daddy before 6:30am". I wish Kailyn would also abide by said rule.

  6. When did my baby start sleeping all night? Mmmm....let me think about that....Logan is now 13 months and I am still waiting for the elusive sleeps through the night pattern to begin!! I am totally in the same boat as you Heather, so don't feel embarrassed at all...I know plenty of other mom friends who also went through this! Maybe by the time he's 2??? Hopefully!!!!

  7. That Mom in the class was a jerk! Olivia is 13 months old and she's slept the night maybe 3 times in her whole life. I think Logan and Olivia and Anna should go bowling - they have a lot in common!

    It will happen Heather, for all of us. And in 15 years from now when I look back on this, will I care that it took her over a year to sleep through the night? Nope and you won't either.


  8. Hez, you know me, I'm not a mama, I'm a dude, so maybe I can't really weigh in on this... but honestly, I'm just trying to understand. At the class, you were asked to share something sad. So, you shared something that you thought was sad. But then when someone says "that is sad", they're being rude and (as Anonymous said) a "jerk"? Really? What am I missing here?

  9. Brucey -

    This post is meant to get my point across that even the smallest of comments can send a first-time Mom like me into a spiral of self-doubt because I have no clue what I'm doing. Maybe she was saying "that is sad" in a way that really meant "aww, you poor Mom. I feel your pain. That's definitely tough". But at the time, I thought she was saying "What is wrong with you? You don't have your sh!t together enough to get your 1-year old baby to sleep yet? That is sad!"

    Maybe I over-reacted to her comment... but I was expecting other fellow Moms to give me encouragement not be (what I felt was) slightly judgey.

    Anyway - whatever the real meaning behind her comment... I just wanted other Moms to know that I doubt everything. I'm not sure of anything I'm doing. And I have to constantly remind myself to take a moment and think about the situation before I react. So if other Moms feel like this... at least they'll know there's someone else out there feeling the same way.

  10. Maria Claire HadzisFebruary 5, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    Hey Heather...

    As a fellow Mama, I can tell you this: Harry 7 (almost 8), Carolyn 5... Harry has woken up at 5:30 am EVERY morning his entire life. He's a morning person. What can I say. Carolyn STILL creeps into bed with me at night... I've basically given up the fight. I figure, if she needs something from me, and is willing to fight for it, then I need to look at what it is in me that feels so strongly about not giving it to her.

    As Brucey said, in one of his more lucid, and, shall I say, SENSITIVE, moments (yes, they actually happen ;)) for ages and ages, people slept in the same beds, tents, rooms, huts whatever, beside each other. There was no "sleep training". It's bizarre and amazing what we have come up with in North American/Western society.

    Keep your chin up, and just know that this maybe the first in the line of more to come (sorry) judgmental moments between you and other moms. It's all about acceptance. Be confident and know that you know your Anna best and that you are doing the best you can. Listen to the people who speak truth into your life... not negativity.

    Keep in touch! :)


  11. My 2 year old still doesn't always sleep through the night, but he started sleeping through the night occasionally at about 15 months. Every child/baby is different, and those moms who have babies who sleep through the night before they are a year old are LUCKY! I'm sure they have other problems though - some that you may not have to worry about.

  12. Just discovered your blog from our moms' group so will probably now obsessively go through all the posts until I'm caught up!

    I felt/feel the EXACT same way- we've chatted about this awhile back. K is now 10 months and still doesn't sleep through.

    Everyone's said that sleep will be up and down. Right now we're down. Very down! Like, she's-literally-waking-up-every-single-hour down.

    Before being a mom, I never thought I'd find the topic of sleep/lack thereof so...engrossing. It creeps into every conversation now.

    I had a similar experience during the "happy/sad" circle time. My "sad" was also the sleep thing and one particularly perky mom just said, "Don't hate me, but my baby's always been a good sleeper! He sleeps from 7-7! Tee hee!"

    Now, I'm not a violent person...


    Looking forward to the rest of your blog,