real talk, real moms: sleep

REAL-TALK-SLEEPI rarely get too personal on the blog, writing is not my forte, nor is speaking for that matter and I usually can’t find the right words to express myself. I kind of always assume everyone is like Rupert and can read my mind or that they just know me. I now know this to be untrue as I’ve read some not so lovely things about myself lately. Clearly those people can NOT know me, right? Motherhood, of course, adds an extra level of judgement (moms scare me) but I am excited to be a part of a conversation that will hopefully build other mamas up and show that there is no one “right” way of doing things. Jen Pinkston recently rounded up a handful of mothers to share their personal experiences on a topic as part of a 3 post series. It will be once a month so don’t worry, I won’t be filling the blog with all mommy ramblings. The first post is on sleep (or lack thereof), so here we go…

I have learned three things about sleep.

1. I prefer a lot of it. Like  a  l o t. I’m talking 8 hours is the absolute bare minimum. Any less and I turn into a cranky 5 year old beast that should not be out in public.

2. I lucked out with a baby that likes to sleep as well (or at least did until we broke him with a three week trip to another time zone during the 4 month sleep regression. More on that in a min). Well, some might say luck, some might say I worked for it. It is probably a little of both. A few things we did that I think help were… 1. I made sure to nurse just after a nap so I wasn’t feeding him to sleep. 2. I am considered the sleep nazi around the house making for darn sure Archer never skipped a nap and never stayed awake for more than what is recommended for his age. Sleep really does beget sleep! and 3. I always put him down drowsy but awake (again until our Michigan trip). From the beginning Archer didn’t have much of a day/night confusion. He started sleeping in two 4 hour chunks at night from the first week (our pediatrician said it was fine to let him sleep that much as long as I was still feeding every two hours in the day since he had already gained his birthweight + 6 ounces by his first checkup at 5 days old). This was a God send and we made up our own weird sleeping arrangement to capitalize on it, which leads to #3.

3. You gotta do what you gotta do to GET SOME SLEEP. Those first few month were a total blur, I had some extra recovering to do, more than most with a traditional birth, and sleep is so important for the healing process. The first couple nights after we got home from the hospital, Archer slept in our room and that is when the sleep deprivation starting realllly setting in. We were already going on about 72 hours with only a few cat naps here and there and any peep Archie would make, or if he didn’t make a peep for too long, we would both shoot awake just after dozing, checking to see if everything was ok. We realized this was not going to work.
Luckily my sister came to help out which is how we were able to start getting some Z’s. We ended up moving Archie into his bedroom on night 3! And before you think I am already a terrible mother… this is how it went down and how we became relatively well-rested very early on. First a little side-note… I had a catheter the first two weeks so I wasn’t going anywhere in the night. That pee bag, tubes, and me were strapped in for the long haul so Rupert and my sister took turns sleeping in the nursery with Archie. Rupert took the first half of the night, bringing Archer in to me to nurse and then my sister took the second half of the night doing the same. This meant I could sleep knowing he was being taken care of and only had to wake up to feed.
When my sister left, Rupe continued to sleep in the nursery until I got my catheter out. Then instead of moving Arch back into our room we ended up taking turns sleeping in the nursery with him. Rupe would take the first half of the night and I would take the second, switching when Archie fed around 1 or 2 am. Again this meant that for at least half of the night each one of us got a stretch of uninterrupted sleep. We carried on like this for about three months, which seems like a long time not to be able to sleep with your partner but in the grand scheme of things it isn’t that long and it led to a happier healthier household.

baby-sleepSo, back to the sleep regression I mentioned in #2. Things were going along swimmingly… at about 7 weeks old Archie made his first stretch of 8 hours of sleep (haaaallleluja) and that continued on, and then that 8 hours turned into 10 hours and there we were, sailing along when we flew to Michigan for three weeks, (three hour time change), Archie turned 4 months old (babies brains change and they start sleeping more like an adult, aka lighter sleep), he was in a whole new sleeping environment, AND he was teething. All of this at once meant one or two or three wake-ups in the night and it threw us for a real loop. I ended up bouncing him to sleep more often then not and guess what?… When we got home he didn’t suddenly think oh I am home, now I will go back to falling asleep on my own and staying asleep. Nope, he decided he realllly liked getting bounced to sleep and while I am at it I am going to take only 40 minute naps. Thankfully he did go back to sleeping through the night 10+ hours but that is where I am now…  trying to get back to him being able to fall asleep on his own and trying to get him to nap longer then a hot second.

I don’t know how to end this other than… I need to got to sleep, seriously… it is 10 pm and that is 2 hours past my bedtime. kidding/not kidding. I’d love to hear how any of you mama’s or daddy’s got through the 4 month sleep regression or if you have any tricks to getting in some extra z’s (or maybe you fell asleep reading this insanely long post? definitely a record breaker for me).

Make sure to check out the other mama’s of the series, chatting about sleep today:
Apartment 34
Could I Have That
The Effortless Chic
Ave Styles
The Refined Woman
Parker Etc
A Daily Something

Photo by Connie of The Great Romance 

  • I don’t have any advice to share, but just wanted to thank you for this post! So good to hear the real details of what worked/isn’t working yet for you guys! Thanks!

  • Oh mama….welcome to the club!!! I’m on my second child and I STILL have not figured it out. Every baby is different and what worked with chicken #1 has not worked with #2. #1 was a solid 10 hour sleeper by 5 months (but still had his nights) and #2 likes to wake up every 4 hours or so…talk about sleep deprivation. Here’s what I have learned, once you THINK you have their schedules all figured out, those little cuties turn around and change it up on you….and then laugh behind your back. It seemed like after #1 turned 1 he settled into a consistent schedule and had remained pretty consistent. Good luck and I know this didn’t help at all…but just know that you are not alone!!!

  • I don’t have any advice to share on motherhood yet, but I was sad to hear that people are saying unkind things about you. People are going to be mean through out life if they know you or don’t know you. I guess what I am trying to say is don’t let those people get you down. I am sure figuring out how to be a parent is harder and right now I am sure that’s where your focus lies is becoming a good parent. Good luck to you and your little family.

  • So good to hear other mama’s experiences of the whole sleep thing. I am a bit guilty of feeding Sophia to sleep since we started trying to move her bedtime forward. She is a couple of months younger than Archer so haven’t reached the four month regression yet! Lovely post and such a precious picture of the two of you.

  • Wow! You are oh so lucky your little guy started sleeping as well as he did. Our little girl is 8 months old and a great 7-pm-7am sleeper now but the first 6 months were horrible!!! Looking back on it, I can’t believe I didn’t completely loose my mind, or did I?! I honestly don’t even know it’s all such a blur. Thank goodness we forget about the horrible times.
    Our baby had a milk intolerance that we didn’t get completely figured out until she was a few months old. The first three weeks she literally would not let us put her down. Not swaddled, not in her crib, not in a rock and play, not in a swing, not anywhere! My husband and I resorted to taking shifts with her. He’s stay up until about 3am with her and then we’d switch. It was exhausting. At three weeks we could finally put her down for maybe a 2-3 hour stretch. Then at about 2 months she was sleeping 5 or 6 hours at night and I literally thought I was in heaven! We had two months of blissful 6 hours of sleep. We even flew to Australia and confused our sweet girl with 6 weeks of a 15 hour time difference that she handled like a champ! She was still sleeping 5 or 6 hours a night. Then all the sudden 4 months happen. It was awful. She started waking up every hour, and since she was held so much in the beginning (holding her was literally our only option early on.) she wanted to be held. I was up with her every hour. I cried daily. I was on the brink and completely loosing it. We weren’t a fan of using a cry it out method, but she was miserable, I was miserable, I was making my husband miserable, and something had to change. Desperate we went for it. After a shaky first week of crying for 10 minutes, comforting for a few minutes, and so on….She completely changed! She started napping during the day and sleeping 12 hours a night. She was a different baby once she started sleeping SOOOOO much happier!
    I envy you mamma’s that don’t have to let your sweet little babies cry in their cribs, but I’m a believer that sleep is a huge priority for the whole family!

  • The 4 month sleep regression was a huuuuuge slap for me. My little guy was in bed with us and nursing a couple times at night but doing some really long stretches and I was finally feeling good about things. Then he started waking every 45 mins (each sleep cycle). I went on like that for about 3 weeks but I was loosing my sanity and he was soooo so cranky so we did some self soothing. We put him to bed awake and comforted him but i didn’t nurse him or bounce him. He cried for about 40 minutes (which was awful at the time) but that was really all he needed. Just one night and his naps got longer and he only had 1 feed at night. I know most people aren’t that lucky but my boy caught on quick. He was happy on his own til we took a trip last summer and then i couldn’t get him back in his crib and he’s been sleeping with me for almost a year. :/ Honestly though, I really don’t mind it. I’m sure my husband would like to share a bed again but as you say, in the grand scheme of things this won’t last forever or be that long a time. I’ve come to learn that getting kids to sleep is a winding road and sometimes things go well and sometimes they don’t. You just have to figure out how to cope in that moment and find the best solution for everyone. People will always have opinions, which is so strange to me (you’re not the one sleeping with my toddler?) and I’ve just learned to not get into it with people who think they know best. I’ve had people tell me I’m awful for letting him self sooth and others who think I’m crazy to let him back in bed. Good luck! Things will get better, and then they’ll get worse, and then they’ll get better, etc etc. ;)

  • I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with negativity, the first few months are hard enough without unsolicited judgement from others. We all get it and the sooner you learn to ignore it the happier you will be there is no one right way to be a parent (or anything else for that matter!) Forget the haters and do what works for you and your family! Bonne Chance and all my best!

  • Hi Sarah,

    I don’t think I’ve ever commented, but I do really enjoy your blog. I hope you don’t let negative comments get you down! It’s fun for me to see your beautiful home, funky clothes, great hair, and cute baby. I have two kids (6 and 3 1/2) and I feel your pain on sleeping issues with babies. I remember many late night google sessions desperately seeking answers for sleeping problems with both of my kids when they were little. Here’s what small amount of wisdom I can provide: 1 – remember it will pass. I promise. Sleep issues get easier as your kids get older. And you get more sleep then – I promise! 2 – I read many books. The one that helped me the most is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I’d recommend it if you haven’t read it. Good luck! And thanks for the dose of fun reading and beautiful photos your blog provides.

    • Thanks heidi, and yes! I did read that one. I think I have read every book on the market by now and all of google. ;) and totally, it will pass… thank you for the reminder. x

  • I am so sorry you had to listen to any kind of negatively. You are a wonderful, caring mother and you need to do what feels right. After having three kids in three years I learned very fast I need a lot of sleep as well. 10 is perfect for me! It is so important to your mental and physical health to get what you need. I say do whatever works. Our first wanted to sleep in our room with us at that age so we did that. My 2nd needed to be nursed a bit more at night, my 3rd didn’t have any problems. Please do what is best for you. It sounds like you have a wonderful, helpful hubby!!!

    • Thanks katie! Holy moly thinking of three makes me dizzy. ha you are a rockstar mom and thank you for the sweet comments.

  • You have an amazing sister :)

  • Who knew sleep could ever be so stressful, right?! With our second, he would wake to nurse 1-2 times at night. When he/we were ready to drop the night feelings, we used a gradual weaning-style method to (mostly) avoid just having to cry it out. I focused on the earlier feeding first and would gradually shorten the time that I nursed him so that he got used to less over time. Ex: nursing 10 min the first night, 8 min the second night and so on. It worked pretty well, and I wish I’d done that with our first. Maybe you could do something similar with bouncing where you gradually shorten the amount of time you bounce him each night? Hope you get some rest!

    • Hey Mara! Ah I never thought of that. Today I got him to sleep two naps without the bouncing… there were a few tears but they didn’t last long and It took him 20 minutes of chatting to himself before falling asleep but at least he did it on his own! #proudmama haha

  • I enjoyed the frankness of this post. I’ve finally gotten my 3.5 month daughter on a routine and sleeping through the night. However, I’m rather nervous as we’ll be visiting San Diego (3-hour time difference) just when the four-month regression hits (perfect timing!)… hearing your experience, as well as those of your readers, helps me build confidence that we’ll get through it somehow. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Hey Dorothy! Oh man that is exactly what happened with me. If i was to do it again I would just keep with the program of what I was doing at home and not start bouncing him all the way to sleep, that was the killer, ha. Babies don’t know they are on vacation especially if it lasts more than 3 days, so if you just stay consistent with what you do at home you hopefully won’t hit as many bumps as me. x

  • Girl – how did you get Archer back to 10 hours? We’re on week 5 and I am afraid I have Carter addicted to bouncing. We had a trip and really hot weather mixed into our regression period so I don’t think that’s helping. Right now I’m doing a mix of advice from Healthy Sleep, Happy Child and the No Cry Sleep Solution, but CIO is getting more and more tempting by the day. I can’t even remember how many wake ups we had last nigth and then he was bright eyed and chipper at 6am! Crazy town. I know it will get better – it HAS to but oy vey. And oh to those online haters, F-em! Sorry, I’m sleep deprived drunk right now. Hugs!

    • Hey Erin! Ha Well when he woke up in the night crying once and I had to pee so bad so it took me a few minutes to get over there and by the time I got to the door he wasn’t crying anymore. I looked at the monitor and he was settling himself. It was like a MIRACLE. ha so from then on when he wakes and cries in the night I give him 5 minutes, if he is still crying then I would go in but it slowly tapered off… UNTIL just recently and he got used to the night feeds again. He was constipated for SEVEN days so any peep and I fed him to make sure he was hydrated. We just read “the happy sleeper” which I really liked and are doing a bit of a mix of healthy sleep habits and the happy sleeper method now. We shall see how it goes. Last night he woke up at 4:30 but put himself back to sleep. I am still stuck on naps though. Total crap shoot.

  • No advice to share on motherhood yet, but a bit shocked to read about the negative comments. I feel you tell your story so beautifully via your images and creativity, that most of us feel like we understand you so well, even those of us at the other end of the world who don’t share your native tongue.

    You are my number one favorite blogger and I always look forward to your posts, no matter if they’re long and personal, or just a beautiful image you’ve captured during a weekend trip. Just a bit of positivity to balance it all out ;) xx

    • Awe thank you Patricia, that means so much to me to hear. I know I don’t respond nearly enough to comments but I always see yours and appreciate them HUGELY! xo

  • One thing to watch out for is when you transition from a crib to a bed. We had a champion sleeper until we switched him over. Then we started reading one book, two books, three books, just lay down with me mommy, until it was laying next to a squirmy, squirley kid for two hours! RESET was brutal! Sounds like you are doing a great job getting him into some nice and regular sleep patterns.

  • […] Effortless Chic // Erin of Apartment 34 // Sarah of Smitten Studio // Alex of AVE Styles // Em of The Refined Woman // Amy of Parker Etc. […]

  • […] suggest this post or even this one?!  Otherwise, keep reading and I highly suggest hopping over to Sarah, Amy, Erin, Sam, Rebecca, Emily, Hilary, and Alex’s sites today too!  Now about Miss Parker […]

  • all I want to know is WHY does 4m sleep regression always time out perfectly with GOING BACK TO WORK!! Seriously… it stinks. I’m on baby #2, we just got over sleep regression and working on sleeping “through” the night (he’ll go 6 hours, so I can’t complain)… and trying to work full time along with the hubby… and a toddler to boot :)

    • haha! @hmc Ah I can’t even imagine. I work from home and it STILL feels impossible to keep things together during this time.

  • Firstly, I’m so sorry to hear that people have been saying/ writing not nice things, that can’t be nice at all. Just remember they are jealous internet trolls! You’re awesome, your blog is awesome, ignore the rest :)

    My daughter is now 3.5yrs, and it’s crazy how fast you forget all of the little details. I do know for sure that she didn’t sleep through the night until she was 5 months old and even then, I think we had two night feeds. You’re doing awesome. And at the end of the day, every parent is different, every kid is different. We all do what works to help us survive and attempt to thrive at the time. We all love our kids and we’re all trying our best. Keep it up! Big love xx

    • Thanks Emma! and yes! It is crazy how different everyone’s experience is. Thank you for your sweet words. x

  • […] At the beginning self care is more self survival. You get the sleep when and where you can (You can read our real mom series on how I got as much as I could here). I need a lot of it and I make it a priority. When I start to feel drained or tired to the point […]

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