My Kid Stinks at Sleeping
I know we made a lot of mistakes with our son. He was our firstborn, and we were nervous parents. Every decision my husband and I made was torture—an endless back-and-forth between us, the library of baby books we bought and our mothers. (Yes, BOTH of them.) Is sunscreen OK? Should we buy a pacifier? Do we dare give him formula? Wait, he can't have apples yet, he still hasn't tried carrots! What are you trying to do, kill him?
Of course, the biggest issue we faced was sleeping, and that is the realm in which we made our biggest mistakes. It wasn't just that we wouldn't let our kid cry. It was worse than that. We didn't even let him make a sound, a noise, a rumble. Looking back, I am sure that more than once I mistook a fart for a cry and picked him up to soothe him and, most likely, wake him. I can't even imagine how many times in the middle of the night I nursed him when he could have gone right back to sleep if I had just given him a minute. One minute. I look back at those moments with intense regret, similar to how I feel when I look at pictures of myself in the eighties or when I think about the choice I made for a prom dress. What was I thinking?
We truly created a monster. Our kid never napped in a crib. We spent endless hours pushing him in his stroller until he was sleeping. We even made a path in our apartment for rainy days when we couldn't take him out for a walk. We went through every possible sleep-training method. Cry it out? Yep. Ferberize? Yep. Rub his back until our arms fell off? Yep. Sleep on his floor. Let him sleep in our bed. Get in the car and drive. Yep. Yep. Yep. And still, sleep time remained a struggle and a good night's sleep seemed like a distant memory.
Our son is 4 years old now, and he still needs us desperately at night. We have surrendered to him lying on the playroom couch so he can see me as he falls asleep each night. We set up a bed on our bedroom floor so he has a place to go when he wakes up in the middle of the night. It isn't the best scenario, but it allows my husband and me to sleep through the night. I don't know where these bad sleep habits will lead. I have visions of dropping by my son's college dorm room at night to rub his back before he can go to sleep. This would not be healthy. I can't help but think back to those early days. Did we forever scar his ability to sleep well? Really, how badly did we screw him up?