It’s been seven weeks since our newest child was born. Seven weeks of snuggles, remembering all the newborn ways, and seven weeks since I have slept well. This baby, sweet little T-dawg, has one of those cuddly baby dispositions. Super charming, lovable, and happy…. as long as he is in my arms. Putting him down offends his sensibilities. Even the sensation of being lowered as-if-to-be-laid down causes his eyes to crinkle in worry and his lower lip to quiver, ready to cry about the injustice of it all.
I’ve tried the gadgets. We have not one, but two bouncy chairs offering different inclines and vibration. We have a baby swing. We finally invested in the Rock ‘N Play that seems to be all the parenting buzz right now. We have a co-sleeper. And none, not one, of these tools are right for him to sleep in by himself even if he falls asleep in my arms first.
As soon as he’s placed in one of those baby equipment things, his eyes pop open.
Don’t get me wrong, he does sleep. He’ll sleep in my arms, beautifully long naps of over two hours. If only I could live in our overstuffed chair and didn’t need to eat, go to the bathroom, raise two other kids, or occasionally have my hands free and personal space. If only.
Like most sleep-chasing parents, I got on the Google looking up articles on tips for baby to sleep, tricks to get your newborn to sleep in their crib, etc. We have swaddles, swaddling blankets and sleep sacks. We have different types of pacifiers and sounds machines.
Does it sound like I’m drowning in baby gear? You wouldn’t be wrong.
Then, finally it happened. I was talking with my midwife/Naturopath Doctor about the sleep and our struggles to have him nap anywhere than on me. And she gave me some advice about accepting him as a baby who needs to be held as he adjusts to life outside of the womb and that the fourth trimester is really all about bonding, rest, and healing.
“Embrace the fourth trimester. And, learn to side lying nurse to get some rest.”
It was permission to just accept him and appreciate the sweet baby love I get to have because it won’t stay this way. It was permission to enjoy all the movie watching and book reading I can do from my couch position of his nursing and napping.
Most important: it allowed me to feel like I’m not doing it wrong – I’m not failing as a mom.
I’m simply embracing the nature of this baby as he is and working with it. Sometimes I love the simplicity of this idea. Sometimes I have to remind myself that my job in this fourth trimester is to heal from his birth and to breastfeed and hold this little one.
So, my tips for getting baby to sleep are this:
- Baby wearing a lot (Moby wrap, Ergo, ring sling. etc.)
- Set up your comfiest chair with your phone, the TV remote, water, a snack, and a book and settle in for a long feeding and snuggle nap time.
- Enlist the help of partner, friends, or a postpartum doula to hold the baby.
- Trust that the baby will outgrown this stage.
And, I might miss it. I may miss the baby who wanted to be held and coo at my face. I’ll miss the warmth on my belly as we’re wrapped up together. I’m going to miss the heavy peacefulness when he naps next to me, rib cage to rib cage. How do I know I’ll miss it? Because I missed it each time my other two children outgrew this stage. There is joy in them learning to sleep in their crib and to sit up on their own. And, there is a sweet sadness for me as they outgrow the tiny snuggle bug stage with the good smelling head.