When you have a new baby, you often hear something like, “They don’t come with an Instruction Manual!”, followed by the chuckle of schadenfreude.
But then you have the last laugh when you have your second baby, and you’re like um, hello, I KEPT THE MANUAL FROM LAST TIME. (In my case, I really did – I have tons of small notebooks with EVERY DETAIL of the first 18 months written down. Photo evidence above.). So, I TOTALLY know what I am doing now.
Until, I didn’t. Which is what happened to me this week.
My son Owl is 15 weeks old. When my daughter Baby RK was 14 weeks old, she began Sleeping Through The Night (STTN). On the nights leading up to this momentous event, she would eat once at night, between 3 and 4 AM. She would wake up once, and then I would feed her, and she would go back to sleep. Feeding was a 45-60 minute ordeal — she would need to burp a lot, and would spit up tsunamis of formula that would soak and stain my clothing and the stench never really came out in the wash.
One night, Baby RK didn’t wake up to eat until 5:15 AM. The next night it was 6 AM. The next night it was 6:15 AM. And the next night it was 6:45 AM. We were now officially into day, no longer night. And that was that. She was STTN. And about two weeks later she shifted from eating five times a day to four. She didn’t wake up again at night until she had her first cold, five months later.
And I naively thought little Owl would follow this same path, that his Instruction Manual must match that of my daughter.
Despite the fact that at 14 weeks he would wake up at 11 PM, and then go back to sleep with the help of a pacifier, and then wake up between 1 AM and 2 AM, and need the pacifier every 10 – 30 minutes until 3 or 4 AM, a time I deemed acceptable for a feed, the time Baby RK ate before she started STTN. That whole week he would eat between 3 and 4:30 AM, but always, always, there were earlier wake-ups and the need for Pacifier Whac-a-Mole before we made it to my pre-determined time.
After three trippy, brutal, torturous nights of basically being awake from around 2 AM on, shoving a pacifier in Owl’s mouth roughly every 10 – 30 minutes, until the next day, I came to my senses.
“He’s not ready,” I thought.
“He’s not Baby RK.”
“He just wants a bottle. And since it takes him 10 – 15 minutes to suck one down, with zero to one burps required, why on earth am I resisting this?”
After exchanging about 1,754 texts with friends who assured me that a bottle at night at 15 weeks would not dash all hopes of future STTN, I decided I was done. Enough of this silliness with the pacifier. I would just make him a damn bottle and give it to him when he woke up! And fifteen minutes later, we would both be back to a sound sleep.
For the past ten nights, as I placed him in his crib, I would say, with desperation-tinged hope, “See you in the morning!”
And last night, I said to him, “See you when you wake up!”
And, in yet another dashing of motherhood expectations, he woke up at . . . . SEVEN THIRTY THIS MORNING.
So, I don’t think he was saying, “Mommy, I’m not ready.” He was saying, “Mommy, get to know ME, I’m different. Show me that you are interested in getting to know ME.”
And once I did, he decided to sleep.
I wrote this 5 days ago. Since then, Owl has slept through three of those five nights without a peep. It’s like he’s still reminding me he’s not his sister.