Friday, July 15

being awake.

Iris was a brilliant sleeper when she was first born up until about four months old. Being of the school of thought that parents should respond to their baby's cues and not the other way around, I never imposed any kind of schedule on her. Luckily, she seemed to grasp the difference between day and night right away and was even sleeping in 8 hour stretches for a couple of weeks. That is, until the dreaded teething began.

I've mentioned recently that I was reading The No-Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley. Well, I finally caved and bought this highly recommended book a few weeks ago because Marius and I could not figure out what was going on. I was perfectly happy to wake up three, four and even five times a night to nurse Iris back to sleep. It honestly didn't affect me much. I so enjoyed cuddling with her on the couch during those quiet, dark moments. I did this for about three months. I'm one of those lucky people who can function normally on less sleep but when she started waking me up every 15 minutes at night, I just couldn't do it anymore. I was awake round the clock and neither of us was able to complete a full sleep cycle. I just couldn't do it anymore. 

The first step was to change where she slept. Instead of the Rock 'n Play Sleeper which seemed to be cramping her new desire to move in her sleep, we brought her crib mattress into our room and pushed it up against my side of the bed. There was another week or two of waking very often, leaving me a teary-eyed and frustrated wreck. The next step was to get her sleeping on her own for nap-time because after months of sleep deprivation and a whining, crying, teething baby all over me at every hour of the day... well, I needed some time to myself. I will do everything reasonable that is within my power to nurture her and give her everything she needs. Parenting is not an easy job. However, as Marius often has to remind me - I need to take care of myself too. I often don't realize how badly I need to change something until it's right in my face and I break down. When I am highly informed or feel passionate about a certain topic, I may be very obstinate. I like to make things work my way and will dismiss other input because "I am right dammit!"

So, I gave in to buying the book. It offers gentle solutions to getting your baby (up to 2 years old) to sleep better and longer. Many of the suggestions were things I was already doing but it did enlighten me to one very simple yet important idea. Iris was screaming for a schedule. After the great number of hours of research I did while pregnant, I know how important it is for newborns to be fed and allowed to sleep on demand, no matter the hour! However, I have recently neglected to remember that Iris isn't a newborn anymore and has different needs. One of these is based on her new level of awareness of the world - she wants to know what to expect or in other words have a routine.

We all have our daily routines, for if we didn't our day would be chaos. I have daily routines of course, but being a stay at home mom means my day is relatively unstructured and I tend to just do what I want, when I want to. I missed Iris' cues for the need of a structured routine in her life. Since I developed a solid plan as to how our days go, she is sleeping so much better. It would sometimes be a 2-5 hour ordeal to get her to sleep. Now, it takes an hour at most. She naps within a half hour of the same two times every day. After morning naps she has a bath and gets dressed for the day. We have play time most of the day and by evening she is actually ready for bed. These were such simple changes which made us all much happier and more rested!

Situations like this remind me of why it's so important to be a conscious parent. We need to listen to what our children have to say and look at things from their point of view. I learned a lot about myself both as a mother and a woman. I didn't see what she needed because I was too wrapped up in my own agenda. I so desperately want to do what is right for Iris but in allowing my emotions to control me, I blind myself to what she's truly asking for. I suppose that is the great conundrum of parenting! Here's to living life Awake!

PS. These pictures were taken tonight within a span of about five minutes!!

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