I was blessed to have a baby who slept through the night from pretty early on. Even as a newborn, she only woke 1-2 times a night for a quick diaper change and nursing session. She gradually shifted to just one waking at night, and then around 2 months, when I was getting ready to head back to work, she started sleeping through the night. I almost felt like we cheated the system somehow. Babies weren’t supposed to sleep that well!
When I talked with other moms, I almost felt guilty. As I heard other mamas’ stories of hourly wakings throughout the night, I didn’t dare share about my baby sleeping the whole night through! I was so happy to be getting a good night’s sleep, but my heart went out to those tired moms who were up every hour throughout the night!
Now we’re 8 months in, and my how the tables have turned! My previously amazing nighttime sleeper is now up every few hours throughout the night, and I’m finally getting a taste of those sleepless nights that I was fortunate enough to miss out on in those first few months! It’s almost more painful now that I know how good those full nights of sleep once were, but I know I was fortunate to bank the extra sleep when my body was recovering from pregnancy and childbirth. Nevertheless, it’s been difficult to adjust to this new phase in my little one’s development. After numerous google searches and some time browsing Pinterest, it seemed we were dealing with the 8-month sleep regression. From my research, my little bug was simply going thought a lot of developmental changes which were likely affecting her sleep. However, after days turned to weeks, and those weeks have now stretched on for almost 2 months, I’ve begun to question whether this “regression” is really only a temporary state. My baby seems perfectly content with this new routine of waking every few hours, and banking lots of extra snuggles with mama. On a good night we can get by with only 3 quick nursing sessions throughout the night. On a bad night, we’re up 5 or 6 times. Either way, it means very fragmented sleep for me, and a bit of frustration as to why we’ve suddenly forgotten how to soothe ourself back to sleep at night.
I won’t lie and say that this new state of sleep deprivation has been easy. Nighttime is always difficult, because as you pull yourself out of bed in that barely-conscious state, it’s easy to feel frustrated, helpless, and defeated. During the day, I can grab an extra cup of coffee or snag a sweet treat to keep me going. But at nighttime, when it’s dark and quiet, and all you want is a few hours of peaceful sleep, it can all feel really overwhelming. On more than one occasion, I’ve shed a few tears in those dark hours of sleeplessness. As I laid in bed nursing my baby back to sleep, silently praying for just 3 solid hours of uninterrupted sleep, I’ve let out a few tears of helplessness and frustration.
But when morning comes, it much easier for me to gain some perspective. When I look into those big blue eyes, and hear her quietly coo, “mama,” as I pull her from her crib. When I’m reminded how lucky I am to have this sweet, precious daughter in my life. I get to love her, snuggle her, and comfort her when she’s sad or hurt or tired. I may be the one who suffers through these sleepless nights with her, but I’m also the one who gets to calm her tears when she cries for me at night. I’m the one she wants to soothe her back to sleep.
I’m constantly reminded of how quickly my baby is already growing up. I look back at her newborn photos with tears in my eyes, remembering those first moments with her as if they were just yesterday. I know all too well that she soon won’t even be a “baby” anymore. I know she won’t always need me to soothe her back to sleep when she wakes at night. These sleepless nights will end sometime soon, and she will sleep through the night just like she used to. And while the sleepless, nighttime Megan is excited for those nights of 8-hour stretches of uninterrupted sleep, the daytime Megan reminds me to soak up those extra snuggles now while my baby is still a “baby,” and while she still needs her mama to help wipe away her tears and soothe her back to sleep again.
Stay strong fellow sleepless mamas!