The Newborn Sleep Dance

Let’s start with the first hours after our beautiful new baby arrives. We spend the night and day in the hospital in blissful happiness. We’re so amazed by this baby and spending all our time getting to know her. I’m on a high from successfully giving birth to this human. I sleep in between moments of practicing skin to skin and breastfeeding. It’s all perfect. But then we go home and it all changes.

The first night at home is hell. All of a sudden we’re sharing our room with this screaming, crying, grunting, party animal. I get into the best sleep of my life and all of a sudden this baby is crying and I realize I’m the only one that can console her. The shock hits me like a ton of bricks. I’m breastfeeding so I have to actually get out of this wonderful bed and feed her. There’s literally no one else that can do that. I mean I knew this was part of the deal but I didn’t get it until it was actually happening. I actually thought, I’m never going to get a full night’s sleep again for the rest of my life! I was devastated. 

Thankfully, that turned out not to be true. Our daughter, Emmelyn actually ended up being a really good sleeper. She started sleeping through the night at around 9 months old and hasn’t looked back. We count our lucky stars.

Now with my almost 3 month old son, Deacon, the memories of the horror of the bad nights are coming rushing back. One of the biggest reasons is because he rolls his eyes into the back of his head as he’s falling asleep and it’s super creepy. But mostly, it’s the typical newborn sleep dance. We had the same week from hell when we got back from the hospital. He only wanted to sleep on me. He was up every 2 hours (including feeding time!) which continued for a couple months. I don’t remember the exact timeline; I’m sleep deprived. He did start lengthening his first sleep stretch until about 3:00 AM and then he’s up again at about 5-6:00 AM but that’s been heavenly. 

However, all of a sudden he’s starting to become a light sleeper. Which I vividly remember Emmelyn doing to us and it was brutal. You’ve got them sleeping peacefully in your arms for a solid 3.5 minutes. God forbid you hold them one minute less and they wake up right away or one minute too long and they want to sleep in your arms the whole time. So you put them down super slowly, carefully, and as quiet as possible. Typically this is when my toddler comes in the room and asks if Deacon is sleeping, in her not so quiet voice, or lately she’s been enjoying banging on the piano at this time. Anyways, I put him down and BAM, his eyes blast open like he’s been awake the whole time. Okay no problem, maybe I just didn’t hold him quite long enough. Do it all over again and the instant he’s put down, BAM wide awake. Lord, love a duck.

I’m realizing this is just the beginning of the sleeping battles. I haven’t even mentioned his maximum, 35 minute naps. We’re not even into the sleep regressions yet. For Emmelyn, the 4 month sleep regression was a dark time. She had been giving us beautiful night sleeps. Just up once and sometimes not even once. Just when we were getting caught up on the missing sleep from the previous 4 months, she reminded us that she had all the power. We had been using the soother as our secret weapon and all of a sudden this stopped working. She would spit it out the minute I let go of it. I remember trying to get her to sleep at the lake. She was in the bottom of the playpen and I’m bent over it holding the stupid soother in her mouth until she fell asleep. I stood there bent over until my back was breaking and then would summon all my ninja moves, and try to leave. She would wake up immediately. Ugghhh it was the worst. It hurts just thinking about it.

After that mess, we started the dreaded sleep training. Emmelyn got her nighttime sleeping straightened out fairly quickly but the naps were a long battle. Thankfully I had a friend sleep training at the same time as me and we could commiserate together. What a time. 

I clearly forgot about most of these struggles because we had a second child and we’ll be doing it all again, I’m sure. Hopefully I’m a little wiser this time around and things will go smoother! Doubtful, but I’m going to hold onto some hope. Our next challenge will be moving Emmelyn into a big girl bed and nighttime potty training. There will be more on that later. At the very least, I know someday I will get a full night’s sleep again. Worst case scenario, it’s when I retire.

6 thoughts on “The Newborn Sleep Dance

  1. Oh yes, I remember the “sleep dance” vividly from when my girls were babies. I think I had every ninja/gymnastics move mastered trying to sneak out of a sleeping baby’s room, only to have the door squeak when you closed it and the baby wake up and start screaming!
    As a word of hope I can say at ages 3 & 5 they are now significantly easier to put to bed and wake me up far less— although you may be right in saying a “full nights sleep” is still a distant dream haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry Whitney. I thought I replied to this but it apparently didn’t work! Thanks for your comment!
      Those squeaky doors are the worst! I remember you saying your oldest likes to “check on you” when you’re sleeping haha what a sweet child you have! She’s got good intentions at least! ❤️


  2. I remember being up multiple times with Ava. She didn’t start sleeping through the night sometimes until 6 months, then 9 months or so.
    She has now got into a dreadful habit of bottle when she wakings one the middle of the night.
    Our son can be a dream sleeper only up once most nights since 2 months


  3. Being sleep deprived affects everything. It is always such a relief when sleep is again part of your routine. Despite the challenges, I know you enjoy and embrace the joy of motherhood. It is certainly one of life’s greatest gifts! Love your blog. Keep writing!


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