Real Talk about Baby Sleep

October 12, 2020, Hailey Cain

It only seems fitting to write about sleep, from the beginning to where we are now, since I’m typing this post with my arm stretched over Delilah while she’s napping,

During pregnancy, sleep for me wasn’t great. My energy level during the first trimester was basically non-existent. I was a student at the time which meant doing everything I could to be awake and alert in my classes. The key to not being tired all the time was taking lots of naps! I kept a pillow in the car for naps between classes.

Later in my pregnancy, it wasn’t the waking up 3 or 4 times a night to pee that got to me. It was the heartburn before bed that drove me crazy! It was so bad and I remember everyone telling me that Delilah was going to come out with so much hair… well, surprise, she’s still mostly bald! I tried everything for heartburn – antacids, sleeping sitting up, watching what I was eating – but I still had to wake Joshua up to get me some milk in the middle of the night.

When I was pregnant, I swore I was going to try to do everything the “right way” when Delilah was born. Sleep was definitely one of the things I worried about the most. I swore I would never co-sleep and that it was safer and better in the long run for her to sleep in her own bed next to ours. In the days leading up to my induction, I set the pack and play bassinet up next to the bed along with all the stuff we could possibly need throughout the night.

Fast forward to coming home from the hospital with Delilah when we started to rethink our plan. The recommendation for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) prevention is for a baby to sleep in a bassinet rather than in an adult’s bed, but I quickly learned to balance best practice and practicality. There is no 100% right way when it comes to raising a baby and that it’s OKAY to figure out what works best for you.

When we got home from the hospital, I was not sleeping at all. I was just barely surviving on quick naps when someone else held Delilah. Then, after accidentally falling asleep one night while holding her, we knew we had to figure out something to get some sleep.

As a baby shower present, my dad had given us a co-sleeper bassinet that had a hard frame to be used in your bed. I didn’t want to use it at first because I was adamant about Delilah sleeping in her own bed, but after a few nights of no sleep we decided to give it a try. We were still very concerned about safety so we took some further steps to make co-sleeping as safe as possible. We put the co-sleeper in between Joshua and I in bed and we also used separate blankets so we wouldn’t have a blanket stretched across her while we slept.

While different things work for every family, using the co-sleeper was a dream come true for us. We could finally sleep for longer stretches of time and, when Delilah did start stirring in her sleep, I could easily reach over and calm her down.

It was also easier to set her back down without waking her up after late night feedings. I didn’t have to get up out of bed, I could just turn over and set her down while she slept. For a while this worked really well and we were all getting good sleep, but Delilah started getting tired of it as she got a little bigger and a little wigglier.

She would start to get fussy around two or three in the morning and wouldn’t calm down until I took her out of the co-sleeper and let her sleep with me for a few hours. After a while, this happened more and more until the point that we started taking the co-sleeper out of the bed in the middle of the night to make more room. Ultimately, we ended up transitioning to Delilah sleeping with us in bed every night.

It’s important to point out that co-sleeping is not recommended by pediatricians, but we figured out what we were comfortable with and what worked for us. Delilah is now almost 7 months old and still sleeps in the bed with us. She takes most of her naps with me holding her and most of the time I’m napping with her.

I go back and forth on when to get her to sleep in her own bed. Sometimes I put her down for a nap in her own bed, but most of the time I’m tired too and we both sleep better when we nap together.

I’ve also tried to see how long she would sleep in her own bed at night, but I drove myself crazy checking on her a million times to see if she was still asleep. I was so nervous about her waking up that I wasn’t able to sleep. I didn’t realize at first that sleeping away from her was something that I had to adjust to as well.

We were on a long car drive overnight recently and I couldn’t relax enough to fall asleep even though Delilah was sleeping soundly in her car-seat next to me. I wasn’t able to rest at all until I leaned myself into the car-seat to make sure she was okay.

It’s still a goal of mine to at least get her napping regularly in her own bed, but when it comes to her sleeping in our bed overnight, this works for us right now and that’s okay.