Madison slept through the night at six weeks old. I'm not talking about the Dr. Sears version of "Sleeping Through The Night" that's something like four hours at a time, because I'm serious about sleep, and four hours does not count when you're serious about sleep.
She slept from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m., and by 12 weeks she was going to bed at 8 p.m. and waking up at 7 a.m.
We threw a party. A huge party with balloons and cocktails and a champagne fountain. We rolled her out in her crib and she waved affectionately at her public. I considered traveling the globe giving lectures titled "Getting Your Baby To Sleep Like She Really, Really Means It!"
Because I was obviously a pro! I knew all about getting a baby to sleep through the night. I would rid the world of the insanity of the non-sleeping baby and the entire Sleep-Deprived Parent phenomenon. (Which really is the cruelest joke of new parenthood. No sleep. Well I also believe the hormones are a cruel joke. And the pain of breastfeeding is also a pretty cruel joke. A joke in a "Ha ha, this is purely evil" type of way.)
I was so cocky about sleep, I decided to have my children 2.5 years apart. Surely I knew all there was to know about getting infants to "Sleep Through The Night Like They Really, Really Mean It!" Another child would be like getting an MBA!
Then Max was born and I never slept again.
I was looking over the little journal I kept next to my bed for writing about how things were going in that first year. According to the journal, nothing at all happened in Max's first year except he wouldn't sleep through the night.
That's pretty much all I ever wrote about. I realize now I had become psychotically determined to figure out how to get my child to sleep through the night. At least every other entry was about his sleep, and how it was seriously lacking.
To sign off I would write, incredulously, "Doesn't he realize I AM A PROFESSIONAL?"
All I thought I knew about infants and getting them to sleep was thrown out the window. The same window I imagined hurling myself from at the 1 a.m., 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. wake-ups. The same window my husband imagined hurling himself from while he was on duty.
What I realized at about month 15 of Max's life was this: I really didn't "make" my daughter sleep through the night. She wanted to sleep, and I certainly wanted her to sleep, and we were gloriously compatible in the sleep department.
I will say I watched her cues pretty well, and I learned how she liked her day to go, and I made sure things happened the way she liked them. Naps were at around the same time each day, she liked GIN Gimlets, not that wimpy Vodka version, I put her to bed awake (because cuddling was not on the "Turn Ons" list) and she cried for five to 10 minutes before she could let her brain shut down and go to sleep.
If I had really created a Sleeping Baby Empire (a book, videos, a world tour), all I really could have lectured on was "How My Daughter and I Work Together To Get Her The Sleep She Wants."
I was only an expert on that particular topic. I had no clue how to get your baby to sleep through the night. I had no clue how to get my second child to sleep through the night. Really, I knew nothing at all.
In the five years I've been a mother, I've only become an expert at not knowing a single thing. Even the things I know can change without warning. I'm always changing the rules and changing the way I do things, because my kids change and what worked for one might not work for the other. I think it also proves, once again, that there are a million right ways to be a mother, because it is all about what works for you and your child.
However, I do have to say, I am actually an expert at smiling and leaving my body while my son flails about and shrieks during an agonizing public tantrum.
I'm thinking about taking that show on the road: "How To Leave Your Body and Smile Vacantly As Your Child Makes A Public Spectacle Of You."
Because, I assure you, I am a pro at that.