Salt Lake City Based Photographer Timbra Wiist owns/operates Landslide Photography & Photographs the Journey of Motherhood (see bottom of page or sidebar for more info. . .depending on what this blog is choosing to do for the day).

Friday, July 20, 2012

Night Time Parenting

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Blog Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Timbra Wiist landslidephotography {at} hotmail {dot} com. Today's post is about Night Time Parenting. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed in the comments section at for today's guest blogger on the Breastfeeding Cafe site The Carnival runs July 16th through the 31st!
________________________________________________________________________________ Night Time parenting is a big part of breastfeeding, especially in the early months (and continuing for years sometimes). What does sleep look like in your family? Did you have a similar sleeping arrangement with your own parents? What were your feelings surrounding safety and security at night while growing up? Were there people in your life who encouraged you to choose your sleeping arrangement?

Night Time parenting? What's that? I hadn't heard of such a thing. . . My plan was perfect and water tight. Nurse this baby until six months old, then she'd move out and get her own apartment, right?! I had intended to nurse my first daughter until the age of six months, and then "supplements" which in my mind, read "formula." This is the way I'd learned it and this was the way it should go. And never nurse a baby to sleep, because then she would associate eating with falling asleep. . .agreed? Agreed! And then said child ONLY falls asleep while nursing
And she nurses three times in the middle of the night. She sleeps in a beautifully handcrafted cradle, by your bedside, two feet away and within earshot and arm's reach. . .but sometimes you're so exhausted you wake up with her asleep on your chest, or you wake up and she's no where to be found and you don't remember getting up and putting her back in her cradle. Every time she eats in the middle of the night, she poops, so you have to change her, and she spits up and you leak so everything is wet. . .oh and she also likes to be burped, even if breastfed babies don't NEED to be burped. . .so you wake her dad up, because if you've been awake for fifteen minutes feeding her, you sure as heck don't want to now have to get up and bounce around. . . And then this little wonder, every dang time she changes and grows, she wants to nurse every thirty minutes, all night long. . .so you move her into your bed, just for a few nights. . .and then you're afraid of another night of waking every 30 minutes, and how you desperately want that sleep, so you leave her there just a few more nights to seal the deal. . .then you move her back to her sweet little cradle. . .where she sleeps well and seems back on her "schedule" again (even if that schedule is new and improved these days). . .but two weeks later, you'll be darned if that kid isn't trying to grow and change developmentally again, so it starts AGAIN. . .and when you haven't slept in three nights, three nights feels like YOUR ENTIRE LIFE!

So, back in with you she goes, until she can get her ducks in a row and totally master that whole "grasping things" thing that she's trying to work out in her mind and body at 2 months old. . . when the dust has cleared, back over in the cradle for . . . you know, another two weeks until she repeats it all over again and and again and again! And as that baby grows fat on her mama's milk, that mama realizes she doesn't feel ready to stop the nursing, nor does she feel ready to move that baby to another room. . .because that mama is about nine THOUSAND percent sure that there's no way this baby girl will go from her current night time waking schedule to sleeping straight through night after night, overnight. . .and this mama is about a MILLION percent sure that she is in NO way desiring to have to traverse hallways to get to that baby who is now only living two feet away in the night. . .

Then this little family makes a move over a big ocean, from a tropical home to a freezing mid-December, high desert waist land home. . . and that little baby, she willingly sleeps in a portable crib for several of her naps and even night times, when the bed is too high off the ground and too small for all three of them. . .but when she sleeps the first night in her freezing new home, there's no WAY that kids gonna let you lower her down into a space where she has to sleep separate from her mommy and daddy. . .and so she moves back in. . .and she stays. . . for FIVE AND A HALF MORE YEARS. . .and counting. There are years, yes, years, where she nurses a couple of times in the night, and EVERY an ANY time her mama wakes to pee, she wakes to nurse too.

Then her mama's belly grows and the milk slowly goes and she stops waking for ANYTHING in the middle of the night. Her daddy gets a job where he wakes at 1am, and her mama is a night owl, so she just stays up and the girls head to bed when the papa wakes his sleepy head. In the meantime, her parents add in another kid. . . for a while that baby sleeps on one side of her mama while she maintains her roost in the middle, like she always has. . . then that baby sister gets bigger and that baby sister can't seem to get off to sleep ALL the way at night until her mama moves her over to touch her sister. . . and some mornings they wake up all twisted up on one another, or making a "V" and touching feet. . . that little sister, she wakes a thousand times in the night to nurse for a few years. . .yes, years. . .but she is growing up now too, nearly 3, and her patterns are changing as well.
One thing is for sure, whether sunshine or moonshine, those little girls know that they are comfy and cozy and surrounded with love, even as they sleep. . .even if they could probably sleep in their own spaces. . .their parents are freezing in the winter and really need some small heater bodies to keep them warm :)
I do want to note that neither my husband nor I, were raised in a "family bed" situation. I believe I was in a separate room around the time I was 6 months old, but was sleeping through the night by that point. My parents assure me that they never left me to cry in the night time, they tended to me and held me when I needed them. During my upbringing, or at least my very early years, I remember being afraid of the dark and "seeing" things in the dark, but I also remember a couple of distinct times (when the chair on my desk looked like a witch) when my parents tended to me during those time when I'd call out in fear in the middle of the night. . . checking under the bed for boogie monsters, turning on lights to expose the truths behind the witches in the dark. Up until about the age of six, when my parents split up, I remember that my parents' bedroom was an inviting place, a place where everyone crawled into bed on Saturday mornings. . .it's a good thing they didn't have me sleep with them, they had a water bed. . .but what fun that thing was when it wasn't sleeping time :) And my dad was a light sleeper who checked on me with every turn in bed or cough in the night, when we went to stay with him. . .loud snorer, light sleeper :) I never felt insecure in the night time, or like I couldn't call on my parents in my moments of need and fear. We just happen to be very comfy and cozy in our bed for four and don't mind it one bit. . .

I'd also like to dispel the myths of co-sleeping. Before I was one, a co-sleeper that is, I thought that people let their kids sleep in their bed because they weren't disciplined, because they weren't tough (love) enough, because they were avoiding an intimate relationship with their spouse. I wondered how these people could also make more babies. . . but I realize now that it's no one else's business what you do in (or out of) your bed. A friend once said "I don't ask you what you do in your bed, why are you asking what I do in mine?" In response to someone questioning her co-sleeping practices. I understand now that co-sleeping actually keeps us all closer as a family, that even after a hard day with one another, we can cuddle up and the last thing my children know is that their mama whispered "I Love you" and held them until they drifted off.

Writing these posts brings back so many memories of those early moments of motherhood. I remember another friend asking me, who also had a relatively new baby (four months older than mine) if I was "still" rocking Alani to sleep at night, if I thought that rocking a child to sleep would make them dependent on being rocked in order to get off to sleep. . . my response was that I didn't care. And you know what? Six years later, I am still patting that same little girl as she drifts off to sleep at night, singing her lullabies sometimes too. . . when she is sixty years old, her mother will have held her at night for ten percent of her life. . .is that too long? Is any amount of time too long to love our children for as many hours of the day as possible, or to make up for a few of those hours when you were beside yourself because your kids were driving you bonkers? I also really cherish the middle of the night sleep giggles or funny things that are said out loud. . .I would be giving up enjoying so many moments of my children if I didn't have those eight extra hours with them at night :)

1 comment:

Krystyna said...

Anyone who says "what if" probably hasn't cried over the pages of "Love You Forever" by Robert N. Munsch. I am not afraid to claim our sleeping arrangements - especially after having a mom thank me since she was relieved to hear they were not "the only ones". Love your story - thank you!