When my daughter hit the five month mark, I decided it was time to begin sleep training her to sleep in her own room for naps and eventually sleeping on her own at night. Up until then she had been sleeping in her swing for nap time and in a side sleeper beside my bed at night. Often ending up in bed with me as she woke up in the middle of the night to eat. I found it easier to just feed her laying side by side with my arm behind her, usually falling back asleep before she finished only to wake up to her sound asleep in my arms. I preferred it that way and truth be told I still do.
As she quickly approaches the half year mark, I want her to explore her independence as well as understanding that there are other forms of comfort besides in my arms. Her crib and her bedroom being an important one. I mean, her dad and I did spend months preparing this beautiful bedroom for her; painting her walls a periwinkle blue and piggy pink, painting my Jenny Lind crib the brightest white to match her dressers and rocking chair, finding the best art and frames to put them in to hang on her walls. We even build a book shelf to fill up with special books to read to her at night. So when the night came that she fell asleep in my arms after her bath and I decided to lay her down to sleep in her crib, part of me inside broke down.
“I felt like something was missing.”
Honestly, part of me was so proud that she had stayed asleep and looked so peaceful alone in her bed yet the other part of me was dying inside at the thought of her being alone. In her bed. At five months of age that meant for over a year now she has either been beside me or inside of me asleep and just thinking of her being in the next room over felt like she was miles away. What if she woke up and got scared when she realized I was not there beside her? She had never been alone at night in a room like that. Would it be too dark or too cold without the warmth of being beside me?
Was I overreaching? Probably so. Even more so when I went and checked on her about ten times within the hour. And when it came time for me to go to bed, about two hours after laying her down in her crib, I couldn’t get comfortable at all. I felt like something was missing. I went and checked on her in hopes that she might be awake or maybe stirring ready to eat soon. Yet there she lay ever so soundly all by herself. She never looked so grown before and in that dim light I could see her future. I could see what would all be a little girl in the face of an infant.
“As badly as I wanted to go in there and bring her to bed with me, I didn’t.”
I know it’s going to happen eventually, where one day she will always go to sleep alone in her room and I know it’s important to have that independence yet part of me is looking back on those first five months wondering why I ever got upset that she would wake up when I would try to set her in her side sleeper. And wondering how five months had gone away from me so quickly and how much I took them for granted.
As badly as I wanted to go in there and bring her to bed with me, I didn’t. Instead I just sat in bed wide awake, checking in on her every so often until four and a half hours later when she finally woke up to eat. I picked her up, gave her a soft kiss and told her how proud of her I was. Then carried her to my bedroom where she slept for the rest of the night. She may have not slept the entire night but after five months and barely staying asleep five minutes in there before, five hours alone in her crib was long enough for me.