March 25, 2015

Why I'm Glad My Twins Don't Sleep Through the Night *Yet*

Every single person I met at Wal-Mart yesterday asked me if the girls were sleeping through the night. (Side note: remember those questions twin moms receive. I answered every one. At least twice.)  By the last one, a nearly 80 year old greeter/shoplifter sniffer extraordinaire (she legit chased another elderly lady outside when she didn't stop as the sensors went off), I was so done answering this one question. She had twins herself and really just wanted to tell me all about her twins. Birth story and all. It was cute. But she made it a point to tell me that they slept through the night from 3 weeks old. A blessing since she had a 1 year old and got pregnant again when they were a month (!) old.  I laughed but then I thought really? Both of them?! That's unheard of. I could have gotten sad or anxious but instead I chose to be grateful. Yup, I am grateful my girls aren't sleeping through the night yet.

This is new. A week ago I hated it. I was dying for the night wake ups to end and for them to go to bed at a decent hour. I have been so stressed lately about them sleeping better at night. I research it all day and get upset when they wake up AGAIN just as we sit down to eat or watch a show. This week has been different though. As they finished up mental leap 5 and their teeth stopped bothering them they're waking up less on their own, are easier to put down and don't come in our bed until dawn some nights. Last night Jules woke up at 1:20 and I didn't even try to act like I was getting up to feed her. Girl came and snuggled right up and stayed for the night. Because you know what?

I miss them.

I spend every day with them and I still miss them at night. It is so friggin hard when they're up all night. But I know in my heart that those nights will soon end. Plus, even when they're up they're still pretty fun to be around. As we get to the point where they will naturally (hopefully) be going to bed earlier (and staying there longer) I am choosing to focus on the positives and be grateful for the time. When people ask if they're STTN I will happily tell them not yet because all too soon they will be and I will miss them.

Here's why I am choosing the be glad that my twins don't sleep through the night yet:

We are following their lead and I feel good about that

We learned early on that we cannot make the girls do much that they don't want to do. This includes sleeping and eating. Despite our best efforts to put them on our schedule they have made it clear that they will sleep when they are tired. Our job is to watch for their cues and get them down before they cross the threshold into being overtired. We have about a ten minute window from that first yawn to the last big eye rub just before their eyes close. As soon as we see the yawn we start our laying down routine and for the most part they go down happily (unless they're feeling separation anxiety pangs or are hungry little beasts).

They will sleep when they're ready and able when there is nothing keeping them up (like teeth, growing, new tricks, etc). Until then I feel like we need to support them and follow their lead. And they are slowly figuring out on their own what their natural schedule is. I have a feeling we will eventually let them cry a bit but it's crazy how ever since we let go and let them lead the way they have stopped waking up hour after hour pissed off.

Eventually everyone figures out their own biological rhythm and learns that night time is for sleeping. In the end I know now that I am meeting their needs by not forcing them to do what they're not ready for and as an added bonus I don't have to listen to them cry (even if it would only take a day or a week to get "perfect" sleepers, as tempting as that sounds).

Extra family time

When they were just transitioning out of the every 3 hour schedules of eat, sleep, poop, sleep, eat they were finally starting to stay up for longer stretches. I loved having the time to play and talk to them but they were still only awake for maybe 5 hours total during the day. Soon they started sleeping from midnight to six and some nights they had a stretch from 6-12 with a sleepy feed at 9. The problem was that Dad doesn't get home until 6:15 most nights and he was missing all his time with them. So instead of putting them to bed for the night after the 6:00 feeding we brought them into the kitchen with us to cook or one of us played or snuggled with them while the other cooked and then we ate dinner together. They took a short nap at 8 or 830 and then they would eat at 9 and go down and some nights stay down until 6 or 7. It worked for us and it was our special family time. They loved the extra attention and Dad got to see his girls. Now that they're naturally going down at 7:30 or 8 and sleeping longer through the night it's a rush for him to get any time and still have a solid bedtime routine before shit hits the fan and no one sleeps! We miss it.

Extra one-on-one time

Some nights one of them just does not want to go down at 7. Or 8 or 9. The other one will pass out peacefully and sleep for hours while she just screams until I take her out.Usually she's overtired (we missed our window) or not tired enough yet. She's instantly happy, every time, when we take her out into the living room. We are breaking all sorts of sleep training rules but we can never say no. I could never force her to sleep so we don't even try. Again, we learned early on that only they can decide when to sleep no matter how much we would like them to. So we would get this bonus time with one baby while the other slept. It's amazing how different it is with just one baby. You notice things you don't see when both are up and you can really get to know each other better. Sure, if you're going on two weeks of straight up all baby all the time it's time to synchronize them but when it's an extra hour or so once a week it is so worth it.

Extra snuggles

 I doubt it makes sense to people without kids (I never understood it) but it is so hard to get both sleep and snuggles with your kids. For childless adults sleep = snuggles. For parents, snuggles can mean no one sleeps if baby stays up, feet and fingers in your face and up your nose and a constant fear that someone has killed the baby or it fell of the bed. The girls still come in our bed and while we love it it's definitely nearing its peak. So I, of course having the "luxury" of staying home, have found myself staying up with them after they nurse (I'm also trying to curb the habit of nursing to sleep so its not entirely unselfish). Instead of cursing my lost z's I'm snuggling up while she pulls my hair and blows raspberries.  In like a second they will be too old for this so I am going to love every extra second we get.


I write this thanks to my experience at Wal-Mart but also after I found myself reading through a sleep training forum tonight. All these moms were lamenting their inability to snuggle baby in their bed now that they've sleep trained for fear of undoing all their hard work. I totally understand it and I would probably feel differently if my girls were awful sleepers all the time since day one. But you have to do what you and baby are comfortable with and forcing yourself to forgo something you love for the sake of sleep just seems like an impossible choice to me. At the very least it's one I'm just not ready to make just yet. I don't want to give up this time with them knowing full well that they will sleep through the night when they're ready and it may just be sooner than I really want.


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