I couldn't put my baby down
I'm writing this sat with my husband, watching tv, drinking a glass of wine. Ronnie is sound asleep in her moses basket next to us. This may sound like a fairly average scene for an evening with a newborn. I'd have thought so going into it too. I was told the newborn phase was 'by far the easiest' and that all they did was 'sleep all day'. What I wasn't told was that my baby would want to sleep all day ON ME.
People often talk about separation anxiety from a baby and since she spent 9, nearly 10 months inside me this would seem fairly logical. Of course she is used to me in every way; my heartbeat, my smell, my movements. She is so in tuned with me as she was a part of me. So when she was brought into the world being on her own was not something she was used to at all. Subsequently I was used to her, completely protective and well, new at this! I wanted to do what she wanted me to do. If she wanted to be near me then fine, I would let her. When asking advice on how to get her to sleep in her own moses basket so many people told to me to 'soak up being wanted', 'embrace newborn stage' 'take in the cuddles' as one day she wouldn't want to cuddle me and I should 'cherish this moment'. So I did. I went all out. I let her sleep on me all day and even all night. She wouldn't let me put her down and so I stayed awake, sleeping only when Rob was holding her.
I highlighted that previous statement because although it rings complete truth, she did not want me to put her down, she wanted to sleep on me, I am now extremely aware that I was letting her want to do this. I had given up trying to put her down because it was easier in that she didn't cry and it happened instantly, and she was happier. She was peaceful and in turn the house was quiet. What is now of course abundantly clear is that this way of life was NOT sustainable. I was so sleep deprived, so physically and emotionally exhausted from taking on this responsibility that when my mum came to stay with me on week 6 it took one 'let me hold her Lauren' for me to burst into tears and break down. I needed to sleep, but most importantly I needed to let go.
It was clear to see that I had put so much emphasis on wanting Ronnie to sleep as I thought it was my responsibility to get her to sleep that I had completely ignored the fact that I, myself needed to. Ronnie, although new, would learn that if I kept putting her down eventually that was the place to sleep. It might take a while but she would learn. So I decided to do it, to take charge. One evening I wrapped a t shirt I had been wearing all day around a hot water bottle. I then took the hot water bottle away let the t shirt cool so it was warm then I placed this in Ronnie's Sleepyhead, hoping this would lessen the shock of being away from me. I then lay Ronnie down. Put lullabies on my iphone near her, and popped a dummy in. She was still extremely reluctant, but I was determined. Over and over again I would settle her and then place her back down on her own next to me. I'd sit with her during the day or lie next to her at night making her feel comfortable, not letting her get too upset. I did this repeatedly. Some days and nights were easier than others. Your patience wears thin when you are running on no sleep. Then suddenly all she needed was her dummy or some music to soothe her. Then finally we did it. She self soothed herself to sleep on her own no dummy, no music. IT HAD WORKED.
I had no idea that separation anxiety existed when I was pregnant. No body warned me. So when I was faced with it from her I took it into my own hands to handle it. I did this because I had to. For the both of us. It was safer for her to sleep on her own but also if I didn't do it whilst she was little I'd create a co-sleeper in her and a monster in myself. I can't say that it was easy, as it wasn't. So many people have and will continue to say 'You wouldn't be able to spend this much time on her sleeping arrangements if you had another' thats true. But I don't, I need a nights sleep before I even contemplate that!!