Having A Child Who Doesn’t Sleep Is A Form Of Mom Torture And I’m Barely Surviving
As a new mom, you think that nothing can possibly touch the early days- your baby is hungry several times during the night, barely naps during the day and might even need to be laying on your chest to sleep at all. No doubt, the first months can be very difficult in regard to sleep and sometimes, even the entire first year. However, while most babies do start to sleep through the night eventually, there are some babies that grow into toddlers and children that still do not sleep through the night. I have one of those children and I am here to tell you- having a child who doesn’t sleep is one of the most difficult things a parent can deal with.
My son is now five years old and a totally wonderful and hilarious little guy. He has a ton of energy, major dance moves, he’s very smart and inquisitive and most people who meet him think he’s a riot. He has about 12 million positive traits but holy shit, he is, was and always will be a terrible sleeper. As a baby, it manifested in the usual ways only magnified from the typical bad sleeper. He wanted to nurse constantly and was basically only sleeping if I were holding him or laying right next to him. He was the very definition of a “high-need” baby and made life very difficult during his first year. He slept through the night for the first time at 11 months old. And by sleep through the night, I mean a 6-hour stretch. He was up every one to three hours nightly for most of his first year. Like I said, misery.
As a toddler, we had struggles with staying in his “big boy” bed and getting him to fall asleep at all was unreal. It got to the point where I would have to sit beside his bed and pat his back for close to an hour to get him to sleep and then, he would be up by midnight and only sleeping with my husband and I would do. Of course we tried everything we could to get him to stay in his own bed because when he was with us, we could not sleep. He’s a restless sleeper (shocking, I know) and throws his little body all over the place.
Somewhere around pre-school, he got better at staying in his own bed but we still have the issue of his incredibly early wake-up time. He is a 5:30am kind of guy and no matter how early or late he goes to bed, that is when he is running into our bedroom asking for breakfast and rambling about anything and everything. He does not stay in his bed all night every night and still ends up in our bed sometimes. Either that or one of us is in his room trying to help him get back to sleep. It is rare that we make it through a whole night without hearing from him at least once. We have come to the conclusion that he just does not need as much sleep as the typical kid and it’s something we have learned to live with. We bring it up to his pediatrician at his well visit every year but he is still growing on track and very healthy so she tells us it’s just how he is.
As far as the fallout for my husband and I, at this point, it has permanently messed with our own ability to sleep through the night. Even when he is sleeping at my parent’s house we are both still up every few hours because our battered bodies seem to know no other way. After five years, it’s a pretty tough habit to break. Of course, I would not trade my son for any amount of sleep in the world. He is a truly special little dude and I know his bad sleep habits are just another part of what makes him who he is. We are barely making it but he is worth the struggle, every single night.
(Image: Renata Osinska/Shutterstock)