Right now, as I type, my 7-week-old son is sleeping peacefully through his morning nap. In his crib. All alone. Without anyone to comfort him. Last night, he had a pretty solid night of sleep from seven p.m. to seven a.m. with feedings at midnight and 4:30 a.m. The night before, he slept an impressive eight hours in a row from seven p.m. until three in the morning.
When I first found out I was pregnant with my first son two and half years ago, my second reaction – after elation/shock/awe, of course – was fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of how I would handle an unpredictable screaming baby. And fear of whether I could survive the rigorous parenting boot camp known as babyhood.
Every time I bring up a conversation about sleep with new parents, I feel like I’m swapping war stories.
“So he screamed for two hours straight before going down for the night? That’s nothing. My little guy screamed off and on all night long while I power nursed him, dream fed him, cuddled him, and patted him on the back until my hand fell off.”
You get the picture. In the same way that hard-working, ball-busting career women (and men) get a high off of working ridiculous hours on little sleep, it seems like many new parents don’t feel validated until they’ve been put through the wringer.
All I can say is thank God for my husband, a.k.a. Mr. Fix It. When I was still pregnant with my first son, I sent him an article about infant sleep, asking him which camp we were going to be in. Were we going to go all Attachment Parenting on this unsuspecting baby and cater to his every whim? Or were we going to be parents/drill sergeants that put him on a strict schedule?
To my husband and me, scheduling made the most sense. We ordered The Contented Little Baby Book by some fancy British nanny off Amazon posthaste, and it became our Bible. For new parents that were totally freaked out about what exactly to do with a baby every hour of the day, a very, very, VERY detailed schedule was the life raft we were looking for.