Pregnancy

Sleep training didn’t work for us, and that’s OK

Before you ask, yes. I’ve Googled different sleep training methods and tried to figure out which one would work best for us. Maybe I’ve tried them all. I’ve tried being mad at my husband for his peaceful slumber most nights while I was awake, sleep-deprived with tears streaming down my eyes. I’ve tried not feeling like a failure after people’s snide comments on how I’ve spoiled my baby too much.

Honestly, I’ve tried to deny the truth and give out every excuse in the book. But the simple truth is this: Sleep training did not work for us. Maybe it’s because my child is just not a great sleeper. Maybe it’s because I had a lack of patience. Maybe it just wasn’t the best option for us—and I finally accepted that’s OK.

Because every child is different. Every mama is different. And every circumstance is different.

My little one is going on 11 months old now, and he still hasn’t mastered a perfect sleep schedule. He yearns to be rocked or fed to sleep each night. In the beginning, I was hard on myself. I felt like a bad mother for not getting him to stick to a solid routine.

Related: A guide to 12 months of rest

With my husband working late into the evening and having to be up in the wee hours every morning, I took on the task of getting our little one to sleep most nights. And after working a full 8 hours and then jumping straight to dinner, bathtime and bedtime, I felt alone in the journey of sleep training.

I tried the Ferber method, but always found that the easiest way to get my little one down was to feed and then rock him. The cry-it-out method was almost unbearable for me. I couldn’t stand hearing my little one cry for a long amount of time. It got so bad that I would hear him crying when he wasn’t even making a sound. I tried many other methods, and even when I thought my son would finally begin to catch on, we found ourselves right back at square one.

With the lack of support that I had around sleep training and the negative pressure that came from several failed attempts, I decided to call it quits. Because in my opinion, it was hurting us more than it was helping. It was leaving me one mess of a mother. Snappy and irritable. Depleted and exhausted. And it exposed a lack of patience that I never knew I harbored. I didn’t want to be this on-edge version of myself for my son. So I stopped trying to force sleep training. And I just started to let things flow.

And sometimes, it’s the hardest parts of motherhood that make you appreciate it a little more.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that my child isn’t the best sleeper. He doesn’t have a set routine. Most times, he goes until he’s out of energy and then he’ll fight his sleep before he finally doses off. But that doesn’t make him a bad or a spoiled child. And it doesn’t make me a bad or a failed mother.

Because my child is thriving. He is loved. He is healthy. And that’s what matters most. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not madly in love with the fact that my child doesn’t sleep on a schedule. I would appreciate getting more rest most nights. But those midnight conversations with the moon have brought me closer to the true rawness and vulnerability of motherhood. And sometimes, it’s the hardest parts of motherhood that make you appreciate it a little more, even in the midst of tear-stained cheeks and drowsy eyes.

When your little one is finally peacefully asleep and you look down at them in their crib and admire this tiny human that is your creation—that is one of the best moments.

So now I don’t have to avoid conversations about sleep schedules. I can simply say that sleep training didn’t work out as I wished it would have. But my child is healthy and well, and that’s what makes me happy.

Because every child is different. Every mama is different. And every circumstance is different.

Related: To the mom who is overwhelmed, your best is more than enough

Slowly he is finding his rhythm. And slowly I am finding mine.

I don’t have to envy the mama whose little ones follow a prompt 8 pm bedtime every single night. I applaud them and hope that one day, I’ll get there, too. But for now, I’m trying and that’s what matters.

Because every child is different. Every mama is different. And every circumstance is different.

I’ll praise the nights when my son goes down without a fight. And maybe I’ll wake up, aware and saddened by the realization that I am not needed like I used to be. And that’ll tug at my heart for hours. Because one day, he won’t want me to rock him to sleep. One day, he’ll have a big-boy bed and he’ll be in his room, to himself. It won’t be a space for him and his mama to bond. Here and now, this nursery is our sanctuary. 

And so here I sit at 11:32 on Wednesday night, rocking my little one to sleep. If he had stuck to the 8 pm bedtime that I tried to put in place when he was four months old, I could have been asleep hours ago. But here I am, spending yet another moment with my precious son. Slowly he is finding his rhythm. And slowly I am finding mine.

Because every child is different. Every mama is different. And every circumstance is different.

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