By Taylor Kulik
It’s early in the morning, and I’m watching the clock, waiting for it to tell me when you need to nurse again. You’re crying, and I think you’re hungry, but the article I read said that babies should eat, then play, then sleep. But I feel like you really just want to eat, play, eat, sleep, eat, sleep.
Why are you different than the rest of these babies I read about?
It’s late afternoon and I’m sitting with you in this dark room, praying that you’ll just stay asleep the next time I lay you in your crib. Everyone keeps telling me that I should be able to lay you down drowsy to teach you to self-soothe, but it’s not working. I’ve probably been rocking you on and off for an hour. Your nap would have probably been over by now had I just let you stay asleep when you fell asleep on my breast. But I keep hearing that’s a bad habit, so what am I supposed to do? Now you’re overtired, and I’m in tears. We’re feeding off of each other’s stress. I wish your Dad would come home.
It’s past midnight. Every time you wake, I nurse you and you fall right back asleep. But I can’t let you sleep in my bed. Everyone tells me I could hurt you. So I pick you up and lay you back in your crib, and you wake. Every single time, you wake. And then I stand and rock you until I start to doze off and almost drop you from being so exhausted.
How can this be any safer than letting you sleep next to me? I can’t keep going on like this.
We’re going on an outing this afternoon. Another well-meaning person asks me how you’re sleeping. Inside, my anxiety rises as my head runs through all of the times you were awake last night, and how I couldn’t get you down for your nap today and what a failure I am for just giving into nursing you to sleep and holding you the entire time you slept. I won’t tell them that because I can’t handle hearing about the bad habits and problems I’m creating for us both. I feel so much shame that I can’t get my own baby to sleep without me. Isn’t that the most basic milestone? That’s why everyone asks me about it, right?