sleep, or a lack thereof

Bad Mama Confession: Until recently, there hasn’t been a night in recent memory where Ellie has fallen asleep on her own. And by that, I mean one of us always had to cuddle with her until she fell asleep. It’s something we started when she was a baby and just never stopped. Yeah, I know–not a great habit, but until Gwen was born it wasn’t an issue. The way I saw it, 20-30 minutes of snuggle time in the evening was a fair trade for a full night’s sleep in my own bed.

But since Gwen arrived, our nighttime routine has become… hectic. Newborns don’t care about their older sister’s routines–when they want to be fed, they want to be fed, routine be damned. For the last three weeks we’ve made do, but it became obvious our old habits weren’t serving us well. Ellie was staying up until well past her bedtime, then it would take forever for her to fall asleep (meaning one of us was stuck in bed until she passed out)… and then she stopped sleeping through the night.

Elspeth playing

As someone who’s been spoiled by a good sleeper, this was NOT COOL. Being awake with a newborn is a given–it’s not always pleasant, but I expect it. Being awake with a pre-schooler who’s become accustomed to snuggling with you to get to sleep, on the other hand, is infuriating–especially when sleep is already a precious commodity.

So after a particularly rough night, I made one of those Difficult Parenting Decisions–we needed to change the bedtime routine. The kiddo needed to learn to fall asleep in her own bed, sans over-tired parents. It wouldn’t be pleasant, but it was necessary.

I decided to put my plan into effect on Friday night when Tim was out at a movie–that way I wouldn’t be tempted to hand Gwen to Tim in the thick of a tantrum and go back to our old ways. Leading up to bedtime, I made a point of telling Ellie several times, “You’re going to sleep in your own bed tonight, by yourself!” I tried to make it sound EXCITING and FUN! YAY, SLEEPING ALONE! Mama loves it, why don’t you?

She wasn’t buying it, but when bedtime came, she crawled into her bed and pulled her blankie up to her chin in between sniffles. I thought to myself, “This might not be so bad after all!”

Ahah. Ahahahahahaha.

Here’s how the evening went down:

Continue reading “sleep, or a lack thereof”

life… with two

sleepy babyGwen is 1 week old as of yesterday, and she’s a pretty mellow baby so far (knock on wood!) We wake her to eat and for the occasional diaper, but mostly she’s content to snooze in her co-sleeper or swing or in the wrap. It’s been nearly impossible to catch her with her eyes open (although I did manage it once.) I wonder if she’s saving her energy for a big showdown or if we’re just fortunate enough to have another one of those elusive “good sleepers.” Time will tell!

One thing that’s awesome: Not worrying about the little stuff. With Ellie we had to learn the basics–how to change a diaper, how to balance bottle and breastfeeding, how to swaddle, etc. What I’ve found the second time is, the routine comes naturally. I no longer ask myself, “Is this normal?” twenty-five times a day–maybe only three to five times a day. 🙂 Even the lack of sleep isn’t getting to me the same way it did the first time. The added confidence in my abilities makes this second-time-parent thing much easier!

I also feel more balanced, personally. I adore Gwen and take every opportunity to snuggle her (I’d forgotten just how perfect and teeny they are!) but I’m much less hesitant to put her down when I need time for me. I don’t have that frantic, intense “You’re killing the baby!” feeling when she cries. Not to say I’m not responsive, but I tend to her without a lot of unnecessary anxiety, and I think she’s calmer as a result. I’ve actually been eager to get back to work on my own projects, and have, if not with the same intensity. The creative distraction is good for me.

I’ve actually worried more about Ellie and her reaction to this transition in our family than I have about caring for Gwen. It’s so funny–when we brought Ellie home from the hospital, life was all about Ellie from that day forward. In bringing a second baby home, it’s still all about Ellie! Total first child syndrome there. But she’s reacted so much better than I’d hoped. There’s been a little acting out but nothing like what I’d feared. I have yet to see a jealous look or hear a jealous word. She’ll dote on “Baby Gwen” every chance she gets and has been so patient (as much as one can associate patience with a two-year-old) while mama and daddy adjust to juggling two.

More than once over the last week I’ve looked at Tim and said, “We make good kids.” And it’s true!