When it comes to infant sleep I was repeatedly told that self-soothing was the only answer. I have lost count of the number of people, a lot who don’t even have children, who told me to follow methods where I left my baby to cry for various intervals. But for me, the idea that ignoring my baby’s needs in the hope it would actually teach her an important lesson for life, just didn’t feel right. I could never do it.
That being said, my journey to accept my daughter’s sleep patterns hasn’t been easy. For the first seven months of her life I really struggled. I wasn’t getting any more than three to four hours of unbroken sleep at a time. I was exhausted and emotionally fragile.
That was until I decided to co-sleep. However it wasn’t really a conscious decision, it just happened out of sheer exhaustion. I was breastfeeding my daughter in our bed, and we both fell asleep. It was the BEST sleep I’d had since giving birth!
Prior to this I had always fed her, then rocked her, or placed her in her bassinet, only to be woken by her cries almost immediately after. She just wanted me to hold her. She wanted closeness and who could blame her. She had been safe and secure inside me for more than nine months, and now I was expecting her to be OK on her own, in what was a dark and cold place in comparison.
I could never let her cry unnecessarily, so I held her, I rocked her, I cuddled her – and yes, at times, it was utterly exhausting and I cried, a lot. I couldn’t think straight, and some of the thoughts that entered my head at 2am, 3am, and then 4am, made me so sad. I was starting to hate motherhood, thinking that I just simply couldn’t do it, and admitting that breaks my heart. I love everything about my beautiful girl, but not getting sleep and being expected to function all day and night was soul destroying.