Dear Atticus, on sleep

Dear Atticus,

I loved swaddling you. I loved how cozy you looked, and how it helped you sleep. I loved having you in bed with us swaddled, safely tucked between me and your dad. But swaddling is not forever, as much as I kind of wanted to swaddle you until college. (At which time we could transfer swaddling duties to your roommate.)

Over the summer, it finally seemed as if you were ready to sleep unswaddled. So we tried it. And it was awful. Your dad and I are not comfortable letting you cry yourself to sleep, so we sat with you and tried to parent you to sleep. But you weren’t ready. Your arms flailed about and you woke yourself up and it was so sad. I said, and I believe, that I wouldn’t send you on a bicycle if you weren’t ready, so I couldn’t expect you to sleep unswaddled if you weren’t ready. We abandoned the idea of leaving you unswaddled.

The problem was that you weren’t ready to sleep unswaddled, but you weren’t really into being swaddled anymore, either. And so we tried swaddling you more. We used your Miracle Blanket. We rigged up other blankets to restrain your arms. You got out every time, and then you would yell at us until we wrapped you back up. In the interest of full disclosure, we even tried the thing where we wrapped an ace bandage over your other swaddling. That one kept you in, but you still woke up kind of mad. I can’t imagine why.

Atticus in May 2011

It took some days and nights of very little sleep, but then, one night, you suddenly learned how to sleep without being swaddled. And now you roll around happily until you put yourself to sleep.

We swaddled you both because we wanted to get some sleep and because we were trying to protect your sleep. When I was home with you in January and February, I worked very hard to get you on a routine of naps. We started putting you down for bed at 7:00 pm before you were six weeks old, and I have closely guarded your bedtime ever since then. Making sure you are well-rested is as important to me as making sure you are fed and safe. I get this from your Grammy, who still asks me if I slept well and encourages me to take naps.

I think there are things we could have done that would have been “easier” to help teach you to sleep. But we have done what we think is best, even if it meant that we were tired. This is what I mean when I say I want to be intentional in our decisions. We want to teach you that relationships must be intentional, and by making those choices ourselves, we are trying to show you how very much we love you. I know you don’t understand why we make you nap, why we put you down at night when it’s still light outside. But I want you to be ready to explore each new day, my busy boy, and that takes a good night’s sleep.


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    Dear Atticus, on sleep – Through a Glass, Darkly