Life After Birth: The Sleep War
Before having my baby I had a very real expectation of how well, or how terrible she might sleep. I was very unprepared for other aspects of motherhood like nursing, holy wow. That was a struggle for me, but for whatever reason, I just really expected to have a terrible sleeper. My impatience for my completely normal lack of sleep came when I started comparing my situation to someone else's.
My daughter had really bad acid reflux and because of that, she seemed to want to nurse on the more frequent side. Even though I was up twice in the middle of the night to feed her she slept fine when she wasn't nursing. She wasn't the best daytime napper, but she napped enough that I was able to get in a cat nap when I was really dragging from being up in the night. I was content in my phase of life...until we hit the 8-week mark.
Friends of ours suddenly started asking if our little lady was sleeping through the night yet. They, of course, meant no harm but frequently talked about how their son (just 5 months older than our babe) "magically" started sleeping all the way through the night from 7 PM to 8 AM when he hit 8 weeks old.
Thanks to my postpartum anxiety and hormones I spiraled into a place of self-doubt and obsession. I was suddenly obsessed with the fact that my daughter wasn't sleeping as much as she should, why she wasn't, and what I had done that caused the "problem." Even thinking back on this I feel sad about how much it got to me because it definitely caused me to be frustrated more than I should have been.
I turned to reading and searching for the magic trick; the perfect swaddle, the perfect way to fill a belly before bedtime, the perfect way to get baby to sleep without nursing etc. I also turned to my pediatrician for his advice. Of course, he told me it was completely normal to have an 8-week old that was waking as much as mine was. You think that would have calmed me, but it didn't. I just thought there must be something I could do because I wanted to have a baby that was sleeping perfectly through the night too.
OH MY GOSH. Mamas, I tortured myself. Do not, DO NOT, DO NOT, waste time being obsessed with whether or not your baby is sleeping exactly like someone else's "perfectly" sleeping babe. My daughter eventually got there! She even got to a point where she was sleeping better than the friend's little boy that was sleeping "perfect" at 8-weeks old. I wish I wouldn't have spent so much time concerned with the sleeping thing when I could have been loving on my little girl a little more!