Sleep and Parenting-After-Baby-Loss

We’ve struggled with sleep since Miss K was about 5 weeks old.  She just decided that she wasn’t going to sleep in her pack ‘n’ play anymore.  Against my better judgment and preference, I let the hubs put her in bed with me.  I didn’t sleep the first few nights – terrified that I would roll over on her, blankets would somehow crawl up to her face and smother her, or a pillow would sneak over (I NEED at least one pillow to sleep).  But lo and behold, she started sleeping a little better.

Fast forward to moving into the new house.  She now has her own room (just across the hall), the crib set up, some “normal” in our lives…and it wasn’t happening.  Nobody was getting sleep.  Little back story…we don’t know how to be normal parents.  We only know how to grieve a child…and that’s not something you ever do well.  So I’m convinced we are struggling more than we would have otherwise.  Raising a child with the nagging (constant) thoughts that you could lose them at any point, makes you do things differently than a parent who is trying to raise a child with the future in mind.  We haven’t exactly agreed on much and haven’t exactly followed the rules.

After 8 months of sleep in no more than 4-hour increments, we hit a breaking point and Little Miss has responded well to “sleep encouragement” (I refuse to say that we are sleep training…it sounds like something you do with a dog).  At night, she shows us clear signs that she is ready for bottle, books and bed.  She settles herself down for her first nap fairly easily.  We still struggle with her afternoon nap.  She can manage to stay awake for a LONG time for her age, but she needs the sleep.  Baby sleep is SO important.  I love the book The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West.  She outlines how much sleep babies need at each age and a good sample schedule for each.  This book helped teach me how to be a “normal” parent, not just a grieving, neurotic one.  Miss K actually had a nice nap this afternoon.  The first “good” one in quite awhile.  I have learned to be creative with these naps in order to get them in.  Maybe strategically placing a grocery shopping trip for the time I know she will be sleepy and driving around through parts of town I’ve been meaning to explore but never had the chance.  Or if she falls asleep in the carseat, I throw my rules out the window and leave her in it, just put her in her room with the monitor on so I can do dishes or sweep or whatever.  Funny how she fights sleep during the times most people start to get sleepy and have to fight to stay awake.  Today, it was about 3pm.  Wouldn’t you love to take a nap from 3 – 4:30pm everyday?  When I was working (doing hair), I would go get a latte around that time because it gave me enough boost to make it until 6 when I could get home, off my feet.

Just sleep, child.  Sleep.

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