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THAT Mom: How I Got Here

on October 18 | in Co-Sleeping | by | with 21 Comments

Mom doesn't get enough sleep because baby wakes her up all night long.

Photo Credit: Eyeliam on Flickr

Have you read part one in this series? If not, start here. I got some great feedback in the comments!

If you’ve ever . . .

  1. Rushed your kids out the front door in the morning, put your key in the ignition, and then forgotten where you’re supposed to go
  2. Been awakened from a midday nap with your newborn by someone coming over to tell you your car is running in the driveway
  3. Gone to Walgreen’s barefoot without realizing it
  4. Or worn your shirt inside out all day long

. . . you might beTHAT mom.

I have been THAT mom . . . this week in fact. My mom asked me to pick up our raw milk so I got the kids ready and couldn’t remember what I was supposed to do. We went to the park and fed the ducks instead. :) Faux pas #2 is me also . . . that was when Katie was a newborn. #3 is Kate C, because it’s nice to have company when admitting my flaws. #4 is Daddypotamus. Although he is definitely not THAT mom, he did actually work ALL DAY at the office with his shirt inside out after Micah was born.

Funny or Sad? Um… YES

If only it were that simple . . . and funny. Unfortunately, if  you’ve ever been tired enough to do any of these things you know the ugly truth:

Having children makes you want to become a better version of yourself, but then sleep deprivation comes along and causes you to behave in ways worse than you thought you were capable of.

Okay, this could just be me. Despite my pie-in-the sky beliefs about the parent I was going to be prior to becoming one, good parenting doesn’t come naturally to me. Recently I reviewed one of my favorite books, The Parent You Want to Be. It’s about intentionally cultivating your parenting traits. I love this book because I need so much work as a parent. When I succeed at being attentive, patient, comforting and affirming with my children it’s not because that’s who I am.

It’s because my plan worked.

This series is all about my strategy to keep my sanity without letting Micah cry it out, so what better way to start than to review my past failures . . . er, learning experiences. This should be fun.

Plan A

Katiepotamus – 10 weeks old

When Katie was born I had a plan: Co-sleep and nurse on demand. I’d heard co-sleeping moms get more sleep than their crib-loving counterparts, so I was sure the rest would fall together. As you can see in the picture above, it seemed like a recipe for bliss.

Ahem. Not even a year later I looked like this.


My road from point A to B is pretty straight forward. I woke with every sigh, every sniffle, so eager to meet her needs I actually WOKE HER UP trying to anticipate them. That’s right, people! The most important thing I have learned about babies since numero uno is that they make A LOT of noise in their sleep. They cry, whimper, laugh, snort and generally make all kinds of ruckus while they are zonked out. By responding too quickly I disrupted both of our sleep cycles without even realizing it.

What to Do When Success = Misery

PR/Marketing was my field of expertise in pre-kids life,  so when I became a mommy I decided to be my own personal PR rep with Katie. As a rookie mom, I was insecure about my mothering abilities, so I created an ad campaign that went like this:

Baby, I love you SO MUCH. When you are sleepy I will NOT let you cry it out. Not only that, I am going to make a huge display of my efforts to help you fall asleep. You are going to have the most attentive parent ever, because I AM SUCH A GOOD MOM. You’re going to love me, too, when you get to know me.

My campaign went so well that in a short period of time I had completely convinced Katie that she needed an elaborate routine in order to fall asleep. A routine that centered around me. For awhile, I loved it. And then I didn’t.

At some point I realized my error, but by then my message was so well-ingrained we both believed she needed me to help her fall asleep. Things got pretty bad. I read The No Cry Sleep Solution and tried to implement it, but in the end I gave up and hoped she would start sleeping through the night on her own.

Ha.

Ha ha ha.

Second Verse, Same As the First

Elizabeth Pantley knows a thing or two about babies and sleep . . . and the parents of babies that don’t sleep. She knows, for instance, that many of them will buy her No Cry Sleep Solution and then fail to execute the solution part.

That’s why she wrote The No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers (or at least, why I like to think she wrote it!) Newly pregnant and desperate for a few months of real sleep before the baby arrived, I finally found the motivation to make a change.

We got The No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and it WORKED in almost no time at all. After two solid years of frequent night waking I was rewarded with many months of blissful, uninterrupted sleep.

In a nutshell, that’s how I got here. Your journey may have been different but if you’re reading this there’s a good chance you’re looking for a better way, too. In the next installment of this series I PROMISE to begin sharing the actual strategy to help Micah gently fall asleep, along with the results as they happen.

What are your sleep regrets and faux pas? I can’t be the only one blundering through this!

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21 Responses to THAT Mom: How I Got Here

  1. Kate C, says:

    “Cry-it-out does not lead to ‘sleeping through the night’ – it results in learned helplessness.”
    ~ Danelle Frisbie

    But what do I know? I’m just as sleep deprived as you! And unfortunately, the no shoes in Walgreens was only one of my finest moments…..

    Asher actually slept really well (usually 5 hour stretches which is considered sleeping through the night) before we moved, but he has regressed since. Not sure why…..

  2. Lauren says:

    My 18 month old is not sleeping through the night AT ALL, and I am so tired. I don’t sleep well with her in my room. Like you said, I wake up when she moves, makes noise. And she doesn’t just wake up and start nursing, she sits up and cries out “ninny, ninny.” I may look into that book you mentioned. She’s my third and I am homeschooling my first which mean…I need more sleep!:)

  3. Lauren says:

    Oh and one more thing…my most common “that mom” thing is going in public and coming home and realizing my nursing bra is flapped open. It happens quite often. I love it;)

  4. kathryn says:

    My first baby seemed to cry ALL the time, I was terribly sore from nursing and exhausted!! My mom introduced me to “Baby Wise”… I know this method is not everyone’s cup of tea. But it has really been great for our family! Personally I NEED sleep!!! We have 6 kids who were all about 18 months apart, all under the age of 9. They are all happy, independent, self soothers who slept 12 hours a night by 12 weeks give or take. This is not to say I wasn’t still extremely tired those first few months with occasional night feedings!! And I have def had kids regress with moves or trips out of town.

    My “that mom” moment was right after I had my 4th baby…I had all kids down for a nap…I needed one as well, desperately! When I woke up the house seemed TOO quiet. I went to my 3 & 4 year old girls room to find them gone. Ran outside to find them planting flowers with the neighbor…I tried to ask nonchalantly how long they had been there…45 minutes!!

  5. :) Instead of regaling your comments section with the novel that is my experience in the field of sleep deprivation because of being a nurse on demand AP mama, I will save that novel for the conversation that is sure to come in person while we both try to converse through bleary eyes while all of our children grasp for our laps because they need us RIGHT then. :)

    I don’t have any of the faux pas you mentioned, except that I can relate a LOT to that second photo you posted of yourself. It’s been really bugging me lately that I always feel like a frumpy mom. I want to be a cute, put together, happy woman who IS a mom. Yeah. Not yet. I do get my showers every day, though, and my hair washed every day… after that it’s a toss up as to whether I’ll be in one of Caleb’s Tshirts around teh house (I always put on one of mine at least to go out) and normally no makeup (I love wearing makeup) and my hair doesn’t ever feel ‘cute’… Ugh.

    I am fortunate in the fact that I deal fairly well with waking up often at night, so long as I’m actually able to sleep in spurts at some point. With Emma, her and I woke up 6-8 times a night until she was close to 14 months old, but we also stayed in bed until 10am, and I almost always napped with her. Now, with Logan, I am not able to be in bed that much every day, from having a toddler, so the lack of sleep is effecting me a lot more this time around.

    Even so, I don’t think I regret nursing on demand or bedsharing with Emma. I regret not teaching her (and myself) how to let me calm and comfort her in other ways too. We’re having to learn that now, and it’s hard.
    I also regret the toil it’s been on my husband having me so tired so often.

    Logan isn’t as ‘need to nurse’ as Emma was, already, and he often doesn’t nurse to sleep, instead wanting to be bounced or rocked to sleep. Sometimes he even falls asleep AFTER I lay him down beside me (*GASP*!) … Because I never learned how to comfort Emma without my breast, though, one thing that’s been hard with him is that I keep offering him the breast and it makes him mad sometimes and then I get wiped out not knowing what else to try. Caleb’s WAY better with him, because he has always had to comfort without nursing (obviously). I’m learning, though, and it’s fun to have my baby fall asleep with me without nursing down.

    I’m still nursing on demand with Logan, and still tandem nursing (oh girl, we definitely need to talk about this one… I need encouragement and companionship in this crazy thing that is tandem nursing), not on demand but regularly. We’re still bedsharing, although I’m not holding him if we’re not actively nursing, like I did with Emma. I’m still ok with waking often at night and not doing any form of cry-it-out in the sense of leaving a baby to cry for “self-soothing” (sometimes Logan or Emma do have to cry longer than they would if they were only children, for the simple fact I can’t get to them all at once all the time. I don’t consider that CIO, though. I consider that ‘Mommy only has two arms”).

    I’m curious to find out what y’all are doing with Micah. And I hope that you are encouraged that other mamas and dads are trying to figure it out too.

  6. regrets: i wish i would’ve read more about infant sleep before having my first! i wish we would’ve kept her close when she was so young. i wish i would’ve embraced the times i couldn’t get her to nap without me, and just enjoy getting some rest! i wish i would’ve taken the advice so often given: sleep when the baby sleeps! because after #2 comes along, that’s a whole ‘nother ball game!
    with my second, i wish we had had separate bedrooms for them when he was born! i wish i would’ve known when that magical age is between when they just fall asleep whenever wherever, and when they depend on nursing for all eternity just to stay asleep… so that i could help him learn to fall asleep on his own easier.
    we have both sleep solution books and they are great. i’m still babystepping my way through the second one.

  7. Leah says:

    I have on more than one occasion gotten all three children into the car and driven to the market only to realize that I am still wearing slippers. And, really, what’s one to do at that point but enjoy shopping for my veggies with hot pink polka-dots on my feet. LOL!
    For me, it is all about seasons. Just as surely as I know that no matter how long the winter feels, a day will come when I see those tiny crocuses popping their heads out from under mounds of snow, I know that my baby will sleep and that this fuzzy, hazy feeling will pass.

  8. Heather Ivers says:

    I just finished the No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and while I’m not trying to get Max (18mos) to go to sleep without nursing or soothe himself back to sleep, I’m working on the set wake up and bedtimes and earlier bedtime. (I’m lucky that I can usually sleep pretty well even with him nursing at night…I don’t even know how many times he wakes up these days) We’d been letting him stay up too long thinking he knew when he was tired (yeah, two hours ago…duh)! So far so good, the bedtime routine really seems to help. We never had a set routine because I just didn’t think it was a good idea to schedule things with littles. I’m coming around on the sleep point, though. It was interesting to find out we operate on a 24 hour schedule so it’s easy to get whack if we don’t get external output to tell us when to go to sleep and wake up. So instead of maybe having a bath or maybe not, then doing whatever with daddy including watching hot rod videos on YouTube or running around crazy until 9:30 and then crash and burn, it’s 7:00 bath, dim lights, then jammies and maybe a snack, brush teeth, nurse somewhere in there and potty, books and lights out at eight.

    Last night there was much exhausted sobbing, but tonight was a single tired protest and only(!) took 30 minutes before I could get up (shaking fist at canine teeth…come on already).

    And now mama has time to ramble in the comments section of her favorite blog :)

    • Heather Ivers says:

      I meant 25 hour schedule…yeesh!

    • Heather says:

      Aww . . . thanks Heather! I have heard that our circadian rhythms are based on a 25 hour cycle and have been wondering a lot about it recently. What is that extra hour for???

      • Heather Ivers says:

        Just our rhythm due to hormones, I guess…how I wish I really had that extra hour! I have grand ideas that I’d use it to catch up on house work, but ehh, who am I kidding. I’d probably just surf the net :D

  9. Rachael says:

    We co-slept with our daughter for about 3 months…then one night my husband decided we needed some time alone, and put her in her bed. She didn’t cry it out…she just put herself to sleep, and she’s done it ever since (she’ll be 3 next month.) She would sleep with me at naptime, but got to the point that she wouldn’t go to sleep at night EXCEPT her bed. I’m sure many parents would love that…and for the most part I do…but here’s the problem, which is also my regret. Except on rare occasions (usually only when she’s EXTREMELY tired) she WILL NOT go to sleep unless she’s in bed…alone. Now, if someone can help me figure out how to get her to sleep somewhere else (like in the car) I’d appreciate it. We recently had a trip that didn’t end til after midnight…she was awake the whole time. Last summer we had an 16 hr overnight roadtrip…I think she slept for 4 of those.

  10. Leah says:

    @ Rachel – I am sure you have thought of this but when we do those night drives we try to think of everything that our DS or DD would have in their beds and duplicate it – same music, light, same blankets, stuffed animals, etc.

    • Rachael says:

      Thanks for the suggestion Leah. We’ve always got all that with us…she always has her pillow, her blanket, and her Brittany and Alvin stuffed animals, but this last trip she kept saying she needed to lie down…which really isn’t possible. We have about an 11 hour drive (just for one way) coming up for Thanksgiving, and I’m REALLY not looking forward to it…so much so that I’m actually considering spending $900 (which we really can’t afford) on plane tickets just so I can avoid it.

  11. Tanya says:

    I am mom of a 9 mo baby boy, we started off with him in his crib, and 3 months into it, i just couldnt muster getting up to feed him at night and somehow he magically started staying in our bed. I semi practice AP which I love. Some regrets: I wish I wouldn’t have read some sleeping books because they make you feel awful…accidental parenting and wish I wouldnt have asked or received some unhelpful tips from loving and not so loving people. I refuse to CIO but I am your second picture on a daily basis. My son will sleep with motion in a car or in his stroller or rocking and feeding. But he wakes up an 1hr-2hr later every night. I feed through the night which has resulted in awful sleep and a sore back. I hope that he eventually learns to sleep which I should have implemented in him. I am at fault. This specific blog I thought I was reading about myself. I need to read that book ASAP. I have read all the others, whats one more. =p

  12. Margo says:

    In the beginning I thought i would loose my mind. My little one would not nap unless on me. Many days she slept only 3 hours or so during the day. And then nighttime came and we were nursing every 3 hours. It was no fun! My husband would come home and I would be the biggest jerk to him because I was sooooo very tired. I had to do something! I found a book a friend gave me called The Baby Whisper Solves ALL Your Problems: Sleeping, Feeding, and Behavior-Beyond the Basics from Infancy to Toddlerhood. It was a reasonable book with reasonable/doable information in it. I started it about 6 weeks ago and now my 3 month old is sleeping 6hrs at night before a feeding. And she puts herself to sleep in her crib and if she wakes up too early she self soothes (w/o crying) herself back to sleep. All because of The Baby Whisperer. I still sleep with her at times to nap or just let her sleep on me for cuddle-sake!
    I’m a better, happier mommy & a much sweeter wife!

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