Did you feel the earth move last night? How about the night before that? Or the one before that? I sure did. Because my child slept through the night. Three. Nights. In. A. Row. I do declare that the times, they are a-changin'.
For most parents of one-year-olds, this is probably not really that big of a deal. In fact, in the parenting circle, it's almost this secret little competition. Like, if you can get your sweet little baby to sleep through the night it means that somehow you are far superior to all the other mamas and dadas out there stumbling sleep-deprived through the world. It always comes up in conversation with other parents. "Oh, is she sleeping through the night?" they would always ask. And I would always, shamefully, look down and mumble some response along the lines of "Well, no, not really, but we're working on it and she's still nursing so that probably plays into it and who needs sleep anyways?" And in my head, I would be thinking "For the love of all things holy, why will this child not sleep?" and doubting my parenting skills.
According to most "experts", Anna should have been sleeping through the nights months ago. Almost all the other little babies I knew were slumbering peacefully for hours at a time, while my darling girl was waking up every freaking hour. If she slept for three hours, it was cause for celebration. If it took less than 45 minutes to lay her down, we were practically popping the champagne. Mike and I were just sort of ready to accept the fact that our daughter, while being so much fun, and having such a great sense of humor, and bringing us so much joy, did not have any desire to let us sleep.
People told us to let her cry it out. Or to give her a bottle of formula before bed. But those were things we just didn't really want to do. So we waited. We cursed the clock in the middle of the night and we learned to function on a little less sleep and we watched as our little baby grew into a walking, laughing, loving little toddler in the blink of an eye.
And ever so slightly, things began to change. It got a little easier to lay her down in her crib. Instead of every hour, she was waking up every two hours. I got a little inspiration from my friend Alexia and her successes with The Sleep Lady Shuffle (not to mention hours of support and laughter and a shoulder for my sleep-deprived self to cry on). Then, without warning, she did it. The ultimate accomplishment. Mike put her in her crib at 9:30, and she didn't wake up until 5:30. (Cue angels singing, birds chirping, trumpets blaring.) I was sure it was a fluke, the Sleep Gods playing a dirty, evil trick on us. But again, the next night she slept like a champ. And last night was another repeat performance. In fact, as I'm writing this, she is still sleeping. It turns out that after a year of only sleeping a few hours at a time, eight straight is glorious for a mama - and enough for me to be wide awake at 7:30 in the morning ready to take on the world.
If there is one thing motherhood has taught me, though, it's that I know absolutely nothing. That just when you think you have something figured out, your baby will prove you wrong. These past three nights have been nothing short of wonderful, but if Anna goes back to her old hourly-waking self, it won't be the end of the world. Because as crazy as it sounds, as sleep-deprived and exhausted as I've been over the past year, as much as I want my girl to sleep through the night, a little part of me realizes that this just means my little baby is growing and growing and needing me less and less.
So even though I'm more well rested than I've been in over a year, and even though I can proudly tell the old lady at the grocery store that, yes, as a matter of fact she is sleeping through the night, a small part of me will miss the long nights rocking her to sleep, holding her in my arms while she drifts off to dreamland. Because pretty soon those nights will be a distant memory and she will be sleeping in a big girl bed and there's nothing I can do about it. The times, they are a-changin', indeed.