Shortly after Elly born, friends and family came round to see her and gush over her. Almost everyone asked how she slept and when I explained that she didn’t sleep well at all, they all bestowed me with a piece of advice and then assured me that she would sleep soundly in a few months.
I remember clearly wishing she would hurry up and turn 3 months old so she would magically sleep through the night like all the books I read promised.
If I knew then that the first time she would sleep through the night would be a few days after she turned 3 1/2, I might have curled up into a ball and refused to come out.
I was going to write that I would have cried, but I remember all too well crying. I cried because she wouldn’t sleep and surely that was my fault. I cried because she wouldn’t stay asleep at naps and I desperately needed sleep too. I cried because she woke up constantly throughout the night and I was exhausted.
Everybody told me that what I needed to do was leave her in her crib and let her cry it out. I just couldn’t. It made no sense to me. How could a child who couldn’t go an hour without nursing in the day magically sleep for 5 hours or more at night? Of course the real answer of why I couldn’t let her cry it out is because I couldn’t bear to hear her cry. No power on this earth could make me stand outside her bedroom door and listen to her cry. All I wanted to do was pick her up and hold her when she cried.
Instead I searched for an answer on how to get Elly to sleep better at night and at naps without crying. I bought a stack of books, namely the No-Cry series, but none helped. I pulled out the sound machine a friend had gotten us, I darkened the windows and I hummed nursery rhymes until I thought I was going to lose my mind. It all helped a little, but Elly still woke up 13 times in the night. Finally, I gave up trying to get Elly to sleep in her crib and I brought her to our bed. Angels sang me to sleep the night I did. Elly slept only a little bit better, but I felt like a million dollars because I had gotten more sleep in one night than I had in the past week. She slept in our bed until she turned 3. I have no regrets. Scratch that. I have but one regret; I regret that I didn’t bring her to our bed sooner.
After her 3rd birthday, I decided it was time to transition her to her room. Still unable to listen to her cry, I laid in bed with her each night until she fell asleep. There were nights she begged me to put her to bed in my room, but thankfully they were few. She eventually became used to the new routine. Now she loves her room and runs to jump into her bed. I still lay down with her each night, but it is a small price to pay for being able to sprawl out on my side of the bed when I turn in for the night.
Now, the light at the end of the tunnel is visible. Elly slept through the night in her bed for the first time ever. It likely won’t happen again tonight or even tomorrow night, but perhaps by Elly’s 4th birthday, she will stay in her bed and I will get to enjoy a full night’s sleep.