Babies and sleep are serious business and can turn into a constant discussion. I’ve been asked soooo many times about sleep. It can be a controversial topic and I’m certainly no expert, however, I do know that following your intuition always goes well, so… I’ll leave that there.
In regards to sleep, at times, it’s been challenging but I know it’s not forever. I have literally chewed through and inhaled thousands of pages of information on babies and sleep. I have been given far more advice than I have asked for. I am often tired but the vast and immense love I feel when I see Nahlo’s gorgeous face light up when he sees mine make every sleepless second worth it.
There are a few things I feel strongly about:
- I will not let my baby cry it out alone.
- I will not avoid his eye contact when he is searching out mine.
- I will push all information aside that does not line up directly with my intuition, no matter how much pressure and noise comes from any external source.
- I will nurture my baby’s emotions. I will not try to stop them. I will hold the space for him instead of trying to distract him from his tears and frustrations.
- In hard times I constantly remind myself that this is all so swiftly passing and before I know it, I’ll be wishing I could return for just one day.
There is so much information out there. You can find a decent back up to anything you believe or any way you want to parent.
I do feel like somewhere along the lines, we have been talked out and away from our internal compass (for everything, not just parenthood). We look for answers outside of ourselves and expect things to work for our own unique babies (and everything else) because they worked for others. We listen to all that nonsensical noise ‘out there’ in hope to have the perfect sleeping baby, instead of being patient and listening to ourselves and that innate connection we have with these tiny humans who were born from the same cell as ourselves! What the actual fuck!?
Something which has worked for us, is learning when Nahlo needs a release and seeing when tension is starting to build up inside of him. We see his patterns of holding, after 8 months of close observation. .
Signs for holding tension include:
- He holds tension in his body: clenched fists and intensity in his energy, even if he’s still smiling.
- He doesn’t want to be put down, even if all his needs are met.
- He wants to be on my boob aaall the time. (The same would be for a dummy)
When Nahlo’s emotions build up, we carve out space to be with him. We don’t try to distract him from his emotions. We invite them in and hold him and make him feel safe. We actively listen to any outpouring or rage he is experiencing, while holding him close.
It helps that Brendan is on board with this style of parenting. He has wavered a few times but I, as the mumma, with the natural mumma instinct, have taken the lead. He is a dedicated dad and will read parts of books which I give him and I know not everyone is blessed with such a hands-on dad. The results we have seen along the way have been amazing.
We never really had a routine for Nahlo in the first months. He has always been such a cruisy and happy kid that I’d wake him to suit my schedule. I do wonder whether doing that for so long interrupted his circadian rhythm. We will never know and I am done with analysing every little thing. It’s exhausting! Plus, everything constantly changes.
These days his naps are priority. He doesn’t seem to need much sleep which means that I’ve had to shift the way I thought things would be.
I never saw myself as a stay at home mum – relying on a man. Funnily enough, when I surrendered to it, it came so naturally. When I surrender to that Yin energy I love it.
I used to think I fell too easily into the category of using my boob as a crux. So much so that when we went to Tassie, I stopped that pattern. Then – I missed it. I realised that actually, I wasn’t ready to stop.
When we got home, it took Nahlo a while to settle back in and I seemed unable to put him to sleep by jiggling and rocking. I’d let him have his emotional releases when they built up but I simply didn’t have the energy to rock and jiggle until he slept. So out came master boob.
I had forgotten how much I loved lying on the bed, Nahlo draped across me, suckling whilst gazing into my eyes with adoration. So, I invited that pattern back and I love it, and so does he.
Not only do we get that delicious solo skin on skin time but it forces me to stop and relax. I deepen my breath and as I do, Nahlo’s slows down. We forget how much our nervous system affects our babies. (and everyone around us for that matter)
Since bringing this ritual back into our lives, Nahlo’s sleep during the night has turned a corner. He still often wakes but we can often just gentle pat his back and he’ll fall back asleep without us having to get out of bed. We still do get out of bed a couple of times to rock him but he drops in fast. I also still let him have the boob when he’s crawling all over me searching for it.
We also still have challenging nights but it’s all part of it. I know that one day we will look back at these midnight and early morning moments with such swollen hearted memories.
One thing I have come to realise is that no matter what we do, it all changes so swiftly. We can put so much energy into trying instead of allowing.
Enjoy these moments sweet mama (and papa). Before you know it, they’ll be running off with their friends and we will be left with a whole new meaning of letting go.