Photo Credit: Jordan Strauss/WireImage
Think back to a time not so long ago when sleep wasn't just a luxury but a daily occurrence. Close your eyes and recall those long winter's naps, Saturday afternoons cuddled in front of movies or mornings where you would easily wake at 9 or 10 a.m. I know those days are long gone, Moms. It's okay, right? Because in return we've gotten sleepy 6 a.m. cuddles and 8 p.m. knockout sessions with our wee ones. It's not the luxuriating in bed that I bemoan. It's the multiple years of interrupted sleep that make me pause as I think about the complex subject as a whole. Looking back I wonder what I could have done differently.
I recall when I registered for my baby shower, one of my girlfriends highly recommended the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper as a great alternative to walking aimlessly down a darkened hallway (or, in my case, blindly without my glasses). Not only was it a great choice for more restful sleeps during those first months but it also added an intimacy between my daughter and me that is still instilled in our relationship. However, it set the tone for baby being in bed with Mommy and Daddy and it has been challenging to draw the line ever since. I mean, let's be honest, we need our sleep and yet they are little for only so long. I relish napping, spooning and sleeping with Easton and yet bad habits form quickly.
After the breastfeeding and long nights of the first few months came to an end, Easton found she could sleep through the night but was partial to our bed. Our pediatrician advocated a little tough love in that department. So, with confusion I'd place her in her crib after her bottle and gently whisper, “Mommy loves you. If you need me I'll be there.” It sounds sweet but the blood-boiling cries that rose from my child's lungs were a bit hard to take. The first night they ceased after twenty minutes. The second night ended in ten. On the third night we achieved sleep in another ten. On the fourth night we hit BINGO! From there peace and sleep prevailed in my house. Well, until those cute little razor-sharp teeth began to push their way into our world. It was hard to ignore her cries.
Whether it has been breastfeeding, teething, a bad dream or the comfort of afternoon naps in Mommy's and Daddy's bed as an alternative to the crib, sleeping through the night has been a challenge for Easton. And yes, I'll admit I have something do with that. I allowed her to win some of those nighttime battles where she ended up peaceful and happy in our bed. I have learned the hard way, Moms, not to indulge the pattern of co-sleeping. I have a lot of sweet memories but I also have a kid who struggles to sleep alone. I'll say it now, to all you first-timers out there, be tough on sleep! In the end, not only are you doing yourself a favor but you are giving them a great gift, too: independence and the ability to self-soothe.
Now that Easton can hurl herself from the crib, we are faced with our next chapter on SLEEP. We have to put our 19-month-old in her own bed. You tell me -- do you think she'll stay in her own room or pad down the hallway to our California king?
Watch Elisabeth on 'Heroes' on NBC at 8 p.m. on Mondays.