Thursday, January 7, 2010

The (not so) Importance of STTN

It seems being a parent in America today takes knowing a whole lot - whether the Graco or Chicco travel system will match your car interior better, what crib mattresses are on recall, what childbirth class you had better take or else you and your baby will never bond, etc. Apparently, in addition to all of this, you need to know some acronyms. Actually, you become an acronym. After a month of being a mom, I found out that I was an EBFing, WAHM who was also a FTM. Interesting.

As my family and friends know, I frequently read my "baby board," a discussion group of moms (and a few dads) that all have babies born in the same month. There are FFers (formula feeders), BFers (breastfeeders), BWers (baby wearers), CSers (co-sleepers) and even something that I haven't quite figured out yet called ecoBFers. They discuss everything from diapers to pacifiers to what TV shows they watch when up for those late night feedings. But no single topic gets more play than STTN. Hands down, STTN is the winner.

Before my little bundle of joy was born, I never really thought about "sleeping through the night." Honestly, when I was pregnant, there weren't many nights I STTN myself because someone thought my bladder was a perfect kickball. So I assumed that babies are usually awake throughout the night. I was not prepared for the mass confusion and tons of (dissenting) information I was about to receive.

When we came home from the hospital, Ariella woke up every hour at night to eat or be held. I honestly thought it was normal. I was blissfully unaware that some of my friends' babies were STTN by the time they were 5 days old. One day when she was about two weeks old, I read in a magazine words that amazed me..."Don't worry if you are about to become a zombie; most babies STTN by the time they are 3 months old." Wow! I could not believe my eyes! To a woman who had not had more than 3 hours of consecutive sleep in a couple of weeks, that sounded great! I became ravenous for any material I could get my hands on about STTN.

I read so many suggestions...swaddle your baby, use white noise, put her down in her crib awake so that she learns to soothe herself to sleep, sleep with her, don't sleep with her, nurse her to sleep, never nurse her to sleep, on and on and on. I tried all of it. The swaddle did help until my fiesty little one (as her pediatrician called her) started kicking and pulling out of it at 8 weeks old. I tried other swaddling methods, but she got out of all of them. So I stopped swaddling.
We did get her on a routine, like a few of the books suggested, and that seemed to help with her naps (which was another big surprise). No one ever told me babies can only stay awake for about an hour when they are that little! After we got naps down pat, we started working on bedtime. We experimented with timing, routine, to do a bath or not, is she hot? is she cold? is she wet? is she hungry? EVERYTHING. Finally we got some sort of routine and time that seemed to work well...for awhile. (That's another thing I didn't know about babies - they change all the time, if something works for a week or two, it probably won't work in a month!)
All the while, we still have not STTN. We were getting close, down to about 2 wakings per night. Then we went on vacation, she got sick, and now we're back at about 5 wakings per night. Am I tired? Physically, a little. I'm more tired of trying so hard.

Yesterday, I was praying for Ariella and something hit me like a ton of bricks. Who cares if she STTN now? I read a book that said if she doesn't STTN soon, then she will be sure to have ADHD and be more likely to quit high school and end up in jail than those babies that are STTN. I usually finish books, but that one I promptly stopped and took back to the library. Did our grandmothers have all these books? What did they do? What does God think about STTN?

When I read the Bible (the real one, not one of the "What to Expect..." series), I see nothing about STTN. Ok, there are a few passages about sleep. But I don't think my baby is any less Godly because she has never STTN. (Ok, maybe I occasionally think that at 2 am!) What I do see, is that as a mom I had better focus more on developing her character and training her "in the way that she should go" than spending all my time trying to get her to sleep.

When I ask my mom about when I STTN when I was a baby, she doesn't seem to really remember. (And I don't have ADHD, I didn't quit high school and I've never been in jail, thank God!) Back then, they didn't focus on it like we do now. We are so competitive these days, it's almost like a reality TV show, like my baby is going to get "voted off the island" if she is the weakest link. We have Baby Einstein and yoga for babies and did you know your 3 month old can now read and do sign language and go potty?

Please don't think I am saying that sleep is unimportant. I know it is. There is a Yiddish saying, "Eating and drinking and sleeping all come naturally, but praying and studying Torah seem to take much effort." Ariella will STTN when she is ready to. Just as it took us a few days to learn to BF, she will learn to STTN. But I must teach her to pray and study God's Word. Those are the priorities. The other stuff is secondary. We have to keep first things first. And in my four and a half months as a mom, that's what I've learned.

Oh, gotta go...someone just woke up!

Coming back...

Dear blog,

I'm sorry I've neglected you. I haven't written a good post in a long time. I miss you. I'm coming back.

I know I need to clean you up a bit, and that may take a few days. But I will, and you'll be better than ever.


Jenny M