I am just one year new to motherhood, so a lot of things have come as a surprise to me. One of those things is how much love I could ever feel for my daughter.
I had heard about it before, but it wasn't until I experienced it myself that I learned about this new love I hadn't ever felt like the love I have for my child.
I was also surprised at how much she would need from me, and how I, one way or another, without any past experience just figured it out.
I am surprised at how much she grows and learns, as do I, every day.
But my biggest surprise came at sleep time. I wasn't sure before I became a mom, if I'd choose to co-sleep or crib-sleep. I wasn't too worried about it, until she was born and I quickly realized, for my own sake, I needed to teach her to sleep on her own.
I couldn't believe just how tired I was after having a baby. Everyone warned me about this before she was born, advising me to enjoy my sleep now. And I won't lie— I followed their advice. I took every moment I could to tell myself, “I'm pregnant, I'm going to take a nap."
However, what I failed to realize is that I couldn't save up on sleep for later.
In fact, none of that precious sleep carried over after my daughter was born. And even after all my pregnancy sleep, I was still tired.
In my desperate need for sleep I tried to have my daughter nap in bed with me, but when she was younger if I even moved a little she'd wake up. And when she was a little older she would move so much I would end up with kicks and slaps on my face every time she turned, and I could never get the rest I needed.
That's when I knew that the sooner I could get my daughter to sleep longer stretches in her crib, the better it'd be for me.
I started thinking women who chose to co-sleep were supernatural or crazy. That was until one night while I was researching about baby sleep I found a comment from a mother defending her reasoning for co-sleeping with her sons.
She wrote, “A lot of people judge me for choosing to co-sleep with my sons. What people don't understand is that I'm a full-time, working, single mom that leaves the house as my children are waking up, and come back from work when they are going down to sleep. It's only at night time that I get to cuddle and love on my children through the weekdays, and I wouldn't change it for the world."
In that moment, my heart softened to her words. I understand what it is like to miss your child and desperately need time with your babies. I understood, that like me, parents make these choices on sleeping because of their unique needs. Mine was that I desperately needed uninterrupted sleep.
I spend most of my days with my daughter playing, entertaining, loving, correcting, feeding and all the things that comes with staying home with my baby. By night time, I needed a baby break. I am exhausted.
I want my daughter to fall asleep easily and get the sleep she needs because it is good for both of us. I also need that time to recharge so I can come in the next morning and have the energy I need to fully be with her.
By bedtime, after we go through her nightly routine, I'm no longer in the mood for fun or games. I need her to get some rest so I can too. I have to admit that at times I do feel strict. Sometimes I wonder if too strict.
After I put my daughter to sleep sometimes she perks right up and lifts her little arms towards me to hold her. And don't get me wrong I so want to fall for her cute little facial expressions, but I know that the minute I give in I will become frustrated and exhausted.
So I gently place her back down and walk out the room. In the first few months of trying this she'd wake back up and play and talk to herself and then cry, so I would come back in and give her back her pacifier back and blanket and place her back down. I repeated this routine for several days without giving in to the temptation to play with her or to bring her in my bed.
At first it was exhausting, but after a few weeks she now knows that I'm not up for games and it's time for bed.
She does have those nights when it's more difficult to put her to sleep than others. And she changes things on me every time she discovers something new, like pulling herself up or when she learned to go from laying to sitting. Now she even tries to hold herself on the rail and walk around the crib.
And I have to learn new ways to put her to sleep every night, but with consistency and extreme will power to not put her in my bed, I have had the rest I need to get my work done, to spend my days with her and to rest when it's necessary.
Throughout my short motherhood journey I have found that at times there's no right answer. We all, as mothers, deal with our own unique situations and make our own decisions, even when it comes to something that may seem so insignificant as sleep.
But as small as it may seem, being firm when it comes to my daughter's sleeping habits has given me restful nights of sleep I desperately need. And that helps me be a more engaged and patient mama during the day.
It's not easy to make these small yet difficult choices as a mother, but when I see her little face light up as I enter her room every morning, it makes it oh, so worth it.