The most tired years of my life (so far!!) are from when my oldest was going through her sleep troubles. I was so tired, in fact, that I started a business centered on sleep. When I was walking up and down the hallway trying to soothe our daughter to sleep, I made a list in my head of all the things I should have done differently. Later, I wrote them down so I would remember with the next one what NOT to do. There were 5 mistakes in particular that I know would have greatly improved my sleep had I not done them. The first one is below.
Relying on the Rock 'n Play
From day 1 my daughter didn’t sleep. I remember begging a nurse at the hospital to take her for a few hours so I could sleep and her response of “that’s not what’s best for the baby” pissed me off so much that I switched hospitals for baby #2.
Aforementioned nurse, realizing how many new mothers she was an asshole to
So I returned from the hospital feeling like shit and exhausted with nothing more than a “LOL good luck” from the hospital. We tried one night in a Pack 'n Play next to our bed before declaring to F that shit and put her in the Rock 'n Play for every nap and nighttime sleep. We would swaddle her tight and put her in the Rock 'n Play and she’d sleep for 12 hours. It worked, so why not, right? RIGHT?! Turns out if you let your baby sleep in a cozy cocoon far past when it’s appropriate for them to be in their cozy cocoon, they will heavily protest when you try to take them out of it. In fact, our daughter was so vocal about being taken out of her Rock 'n Play, that we continued to let her sleep in it. Then she got too big for it, and we had a huge problem. We tried co-sleeping, but that didn’t solve our issue because she couldn’t fall asleep unless she was all cozy and snuggled up at a slight incline. So after many months of peaceful sleep, we were exhausted again.
NOT how I felt
I was so tired that I even considered swaddling my 11 month old.
What should we have done?
We should've been more intentional, which is hard when you're up all night. We were new parents with absolutely no other parent friends. We had no idea what to expect other than the occasional old person in an elevator telling us to "sleep while we can." No one said "hey, your baby will probably hate sleeping in a crib" or "try not to do anything that will screw up her sleep long term." We weren't thinking like that. We went from childless adults who slept uninterrupted every night to parents who were up every hour. We had no idea what was the right thing to do and what was the wrong thing to do. I didn't know how to properly swaddle. I barely knew how to change a diaper. I was googling ridiculous things like "is it ok if my baby breathes fast" (for real).
Knowing what we know now, here's the plan we should have put in place:
1. Determined our sleep goal. For us, we wanted our daughter to sleep through the night in her own room, in her crib. We knew somewhere in our tired brains that we wanted that, but never said it out loud or wrote it down.
2. Used the Rock n' Play as a temporary crutch. As I said before, I felt horrible after coming home from the hospital. I should have gotten some really good nights with the Rock 'n Play and then figured out what the next best transition would be, rather than hoping my daughter would just magically sleep in her crib.
3. Find another transition gadget. I wish I had known about the DockATot as I was going through this. It's relativity inexpensive compared to MANY other products out there and I know many moms, who I met later on, who swear by it. The DockATot is still a cozy cocoon, but it is not inclined and it is roomier than the Rock 'n Play, so it's a great transition item if you're eventually moving your baby to a crib. We would still have swaddled her in the DockATot.
4. Move to the crib. After successful sleep in the DockATot, we would've finally put her in her crib. Cribs are much roomier than the DockATot, but she'd have been used to sleeping in her own space, not at an incline, and it wouldn't have been as tough as going from Rock 'n Play to crib.
Stay tuned for more tales from a very Tired Mommy.