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Fayette-Mom: Sure, you'll get a full night of sleep again

Posted April 16, 2012

Jennifer Joyner

In my roughly eight years as I parent, I’ve been amazed, time and time again, at how wrong my perceptions were pre-kid.

I suppose this is true — to some degree — for all parents. How could we truly know what we are getting ourselves into until we experience it for ourselves? Just as the love a parent has for their child is immeasurable, very often, the problems we encounter raising our children can defy logic.

I can distinctly remember a particularly desperate moment: Emma was about six weeks old, and the honeymoon period was decidedly over. I was still very much in love with my newborn, but I also sobbed almost daily in that time period — absolutely convinced that I would never, ever again sleep for eight hours in a row.

Now, somewhere in my mind, I am sure that I knew — logically — that this couldn’t possibly be true. And yet, I felt utterly doomed, based on how I imagined things would be way before actually caring for a child ever became my reality.

I mean, sure, we’ve all heard those stories from the front lines of new parenthood — how you’d better catch up on your sleep while you’re pregnant because many endless nights lay ahead. But somewhere along the way, I managed to convince myself that those infamous 2 a.m. feedings are only for about — what? The first week or so?

And then, surely, I reasoned, everyone, both mommy and baby, settle into their new lives and go about getting that much-needed rest. It is unfathomable to someone who has never been through it that the waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-thing can go on for months and months — and many times means waking up more than once a night.

I suppose it’s similar to the cardinal rule of never speaking truthfully to an expectant mother about how bad the childbirth pain really is; doing so threatens the very future of the human race. Although I must say — I’ll take one event of excruciating pain over the bottomless pit of sleep deprivation any day of the week.

Another related, desperate moment: My baby is almost 10 months old and while the sleeping (hers and mine) has improved, it’s nowhere near eight hours a night (hers nor mine). Still, my husband and I are excited to finally go for our first night out alone — a holiday work party that has us sharing a table with several couples.

A seasoned mom of a 9-year-old and a 4-year-old jokes (but not really) about how she wonders why they call it “sleeping through the night”, since everyone knows kids never achieve any such thing. The other moms give resigned, what-are-you-going-to-do affirmations, and I swear, it’s all I can do to not drown myself in the fountain of champagne punch.

Alas, things did, of course, improve. Which is to say, my children have either perfected the art of sleeping with disruption, or I am now managing to put them back to bed without actually waking up myself.

And I suppose we can all live without quite knowing the real truth of the matter.

Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in 2010. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.

 

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  • Gizmo the Great Apr 17, 2012

    My son started STTN when he was just a few weeks old... And I mean, 11-13 hours!! He still does and he's almost 15 months now. I agree with pinkuh about "self soothing". The only times he wakes up (and cries) now is when he's teething really bad, or if he's had a bad dream.

  • pinkuh Apr 17, 2012

    Honestly? My Baby has slept through the night solid for at least 10 hours since she was 3 months old. the Key? Realizing that that midnight feeding wasn't really a need to feed so much as it was a "OH NO I WOKE UP AND MOMMY ISN'T HERE" All it took for her to settle back down was to replace her pacifier (as she spits it out right before she passes out) tuck her in really well, pat her head, and make sure there was some music. After a few times of that, where she would wake up in a panic, she learned that I would be there, and that it was ok to sooth herself back to sleep. Learning to let em self sooth is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby. She is now a year old, and sleeps between 10-12 hours a night. If she wakes up? She plays a little, hums to herself, and then tucks herself back in. The only times she cries in the night now are accidents (why and HOW do diapers randomly come off in the middle of the night) If she is sick, or if she has a nightmare.

  • jebar Apr 17, 2012

    I was just speaking with my husband about this very thing the other day. My daughter 14 months still wakes up about 3 times a night and it doesn't take much to soothe her back to sleep, usually a pat on the back, but for me I loose about 1 hour each time it happens. My husband laughs as this is his 3rd child and knew all to well what laid ahead for us. Lucky for me I know that at least by 6 kids sleep the night through as that was the age of my step-sons when I met them. So even though it's a long way off I see the light at the end of the tunnel and cherish every sleepless night I have with my little girl before she doesn't need my soothing anymore. :-)