Motherhood, Motherhood lessons

Changing Sleep Schedules

Baby J is almost one now. I can’t believe I started this blog while pregnant, updated it a little over the pregnancy, wrote most of the posts in the early post-partum days and will soon be writing posts about my toddler. How time flies!!

J used to be a three naps a day kid. He had the usual morning, afternoon, and evening naps. He did not take too long to be rocked to bed (yes, he did need to be rocked to bed) and once placed into his crib, would sleep soundly for 1.5-2 hours or more at a stretch. This was then….THEN Dubai and India happened. Jet leg set in both ways. A fever in India disrupted his sleep schedule entirely and after that night of fever, his nap schedule was also completely disrupted. Upon returning to the U.S., his nap schedule continued to be erratic. Gradually he did transition to two naps a day, a morning and afternoon ones with the latter one making him wake up around 2:30 or 3:30. Once he woke up at that time, he never went back for a third nap.

My anxieties slowly started creeping up. I worried about his lack of nap. He also started taking a really long time to fall asleep, fought napping with the all the stubbornness of his little being, and overall, made the times I would try to get him to nap (on weekends since I have a babysitter on weekdays) extremely aggravating and frustrating for me. I would yell and scream about what was wrong with him and why he refused to nap and that I was out of options on what to do, and how this lack of napping was destroying his normal development and so on. Deep down, I was also fighting my fear of having to be home with an overactive child all day when we leave this city and move across the country to California. I will have resigned from my job and without a new one, I would be a SAHM. The idea of being a full-time SAHM was very scary for me, still is. The underlying fear that came from how I would manage a future situation caused me extreme anxiety and anger in the present…until last week.

There were two back-to-back afternoons that changed my perspective. The first afternoon, the babysitter took him into his room to get him to nap at 2:00 p.m. She tried on and off until 4:00 p.m. at which time she left. At 4:00 p.m., I took over and tried to get him to sleep and he finally did sleep at about 4:50 p.m. The next day, similar to the previous day, the babysitter tried to unsuccessfully put him to bed starting around 2:30 p.m. but he only slept around 4:40 p.m. after I finally got him to sleep around that time. These two afternoons make me realize that perhaps J had shifted his naps organically to a morning and late afternoon schedule. My frustration used to emerge from not understanding that this schedule shift had happened. Failing to recognize this caused me a lot of unnecessary anger and stress. I really did yell and scream a lot – not to anybody in particular but to Aaron and J since they are at home. I was extremely worried about the fact that I simply didn’t know how to get this baby to nap. Finally, an epiphany.

Baby J has eliminated his afternoon nap – unless he is ill or some kinda super tired, he will not sleep and no amount of coaxing, yelling, leaving him in his crib to CIO or reasoning with him is going to work. So, I just decided to give in. I would work with his schedule. This recognition and acting upon it has been the answer to me – what do I do question! Now, the babysitter puts him down for his morning nap and once she leaves and we play a little, I take him for his second nap a little after 4:00 p.m. and after about 30-40 minutes of singing, rocking, and kissing, J falls asleep peacefully in my arms and stays asleep between 35 minutes – 1 hour. That is enough. I accept it. This acceptance has been huge to my sense of serenity.

What I had to learn from this experience is the fact that babies have their own clock.
If he doesn’t want to sleep, he will not sleep – he used to be able to fall asleep in our bedroom, in our midst – not any more; no amount of force or yelling or screaming is going to make him magically want to sleep. Now when he gets upset or makes his tired cries of protest, I speak to him even more lovingly, holding him, rubbing him, rocking and kissing him, and speaking calmly to him. I realize that he is not doing any of this to be malicious. He is a baby. He is going to have some bad days. Everything changes. Everything absolutely is a phase and he’ll outgrow everything just as he grew into it. Hang tight! Yeah to myself to finally gaining some perspective on this matter.

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