Good news: My husband has been snuggling with our sweet baby the past several nights, and I’ve actually gotten more than four hours of sleep in a row! Woo-hoo! Mary Elizabeth has finally hit the “slept through the night” milestone. (I refuse to consider how our upcoming move will likely lead to sleep regression.)
Some lucky readers may be thinking this is insane given that she’s nearly 15 months old. However, my first didn’t hit this milestone until about 2 and didn’t start really sleeping well until the past year (she’s 5 1/2). She’s a great sleeper now. She slept in to almost 9 a.m. the other day. One definite perk of homeschooling is not having to race out the door in the morning or to force groggy children out of their beds before they’re ready.
When I read or hear about moms of newborns who are celebrating their little ones sleeping for five hours in a row, I’m always in shock. After the shock wears off, I start to get just an eensy-weensy bit envious of these moms. Then I start thinking really wholesome, Christian thoughts like, “Well, their kids must not be nearly as inquisitive as mine.” Then I curse myself for being so catty and start to question my parenting tactics. Maybe I’m just doing everything wrong. Then I remember my second child slept well all on her own and remind myself that nature sometimes wins over nurture. Or maybe it’s how much I nurture that makes my kids less of sleepers.
Whatever the case, rest assured (hopefully, you rest better than I do) I’m not looking for sleep advice here. I’ve read all the “how to get your kids to peacefully drift off to Slumberland and stay there all night long” books. When the baby’s in bed with me, I nurse in the side-lying position, which is supposed to mean I scarcely wake up for nighttime feedings (ha!). I physically cannot bear hearing my babies “cry it out,” so maybe it is my fault my children do not sleep long stretches at wee ages. (Yet, again, my second slept through the night and slept very well until just recently when nighttime fears have been causing her to wake frequently, and I used the same sleep strategy with her. So there.) :-)
Really, what my recent stretch of sleep has done for me (besides given me more time to yak about sleep or lack thereof) is given me hope. My recent bout of postpartum depression left me questioning my ability to care for another baby (and myself). For the first time in my life, I was really, really fearful about the prospect of my fertility returning.
But that’s all changing, thanks to God’s grace.
This morning I actually was able to wake up just before 6 a.m. because I wasn’t up all night. I prayed. I went on an early morning walk. I had a cup of coffee in silence before my preschooler shuffled down the stairs and cuddled with me on my lap. I burrowed my nose in her hair, and I swear I smelled sunshine. I felt so stinkin’ happy just having a decent night’s rest and wondered if I’ve been a sleep martyr for too long.
Then a part of me (the insane part) started to feel wistful that my baby is already starting to need me less at night.
It’s good to feel wistful instead of fearful. This is where God Family Planning is such a beautiful thing. My own fertility is connected to how frequently I nurse – especially at night. So just as my baby (or I guess I should say toddler) and I are beginning the slow process of night weaning, I’m beginning to see my fertility as the gift that it is. Just as I’m blessed with more sleep, my heart is starting to long again for the hope of new life.
God is so wise. If only I trusted His plan for my family and me more fully.