People who tell new moms to sleep while the baby sleeps either never had a newborn or had a baby who slept a whole hell of a lot more than mine does.
While Harper, thankfully, sleeps pretty well at night (and by “pretty well” I mean she wakes up 2-3 times per night but goes back to sleep pretty quickly after a diaper change and feeding), daytime is a different story. The kid barely naps. She’s exhausted – yawning and everything – but stubbornly fights sleep like you wouldn’t believe.
In the last couple of weeks we’ve been working on a nap routine (and by “we” I mean me, since J isn’t home weekdays) and we have one that works. Kind of. Around 12:30 Harper nurses, then we go upstairs to her nursery, where I have already pulled the shades and turned on her fan to cool it off and for white noise. We rock for a bit til she falls asleep. Usually she’s pretty fussy so it can take a while to calm her. Once she’s asleep or close to it I swaddle her (she startles and wakes up pretty quickly without it) and rock some more to make sure she’s really asleep. Then I bring her to my bedroom, which is also dark with fans running. She then sleeps in her co-sleeper, sometimes waking up and needing to be rocked again.
I know some people say you shouldn’t nurse or rock your child to sleep, but you know what? My kid needs sleep, and if that’s what it takes for her to get it, that’s what I’ll do. I sometimes also let her sleep in her swing (gasp!) or on me (double gasp!) later in the afternoon. I do try for her main nap to be in the co-sleeper for, hopefully, a deeper sleep.
This routine works to an extent. I can almost always get her to fall asleep, but I can’t always convince her to stay asleep. Some days she’ll sleep for 20-30 minutes, others an hour. We had one blissful 2 1/2 hour nap (on a Sunday – J had gone to the movies so I had the whole house to myself. Bliss!) and today we’re at about an hour and a half and counting.
I never know how long I’m going to have so it’s hard to get things done during this time. I need to prioritize. First, I stuff my face. I need to eat and it’s hard to do with an 8 month old who constantly wants to be held or she screams. Once I’ve eaten I sometimes try to get some quick chores done, like emptying the dishwasher or putting in a load of laundry, but I don’t sleep because I don’t know how long I’ll have and it would suck to be woken up after just a few minutes. Instead I just relax and enjoy my free time, however long it may be.
So maybe I have dark circles under my eyes, but I’m OK with that. And the next person who tells me, as if they are giving super helpful life-changing advice, to sleep when the baby sleeps may just get punched.