Pain, and Relief. Grief, and Gratitude.
What do you do when what you want is vastly different than what you need? Or when what you need to do brings you much needed relief, but also with it, pain and grief?
I want to take a moment to talk about what I’d do, while it’s weighing heavy on my heart. You see, the last two nights, Wilder and I have been house sitting for a dear friend. I’ve found myself sleeping in the same room as my baby, but no where near my baby and it’s pulling at ever sting that’s wrapped right around my heart.
But first, let’s talk about love.
I had every intention of sleep training my baby. It’s something that as a nanny, I’ve helped many other families do over the years. I knew how to do it and that I could do it. But then I had my own baby. Wilder spent the first three months of their life sleeping on my chest and that was followed by my arms. My baby was born and I found myself instantly practicing gentle and attachment parenting without even thinking about it, I just let my instincts take the lead. I mean, that’s one of the benefits of being a single parent, is getting to rely on you intuition and not having to compromise on parenting.
I fell in love with cosleeping. It was had taken me by surprise and I didn’t ever want my baby to leave my bed. And then my PPD got worse and worse until eventually, it became unsafe to share a bed with Wilder and I was at a crossroads. My baby was no longer safe in bed with me. I would wake, thinking that I could hear them crying or scratching the walls only to find them fast asleep. My skin would crawl when they would touch me and it would trigger rage. I’ve never harmed my baby and always walked away, thank god, but I’ve spoken to my child in ways that I wouldn’t speak to an enemy. We had reached a turning point and two weeks before Wilder’s first birthday, they stayed with a dear friend for a week who helped teach them how to sleep on their own. I have many feelings about this, but what I also know, is that I was far more afraid of continuing to sleep with my child than I was of these feelings.
And let me tell you, this past month has been absolutely glorious. I’ve been able to do more influencer work, writing, and I’m even falling back in love with reading. My house doesn’t reach the point of disaster that it feels debilitating and I have me time again. Wilder sleeps twelve hours a night in their bed and I feel pain and relief all at the same time.
Up until a few nights ago, Wilder has been in their own room and I’ve felt less grief and more relief about it. But two nights ago we started pet sitting and now my baby is sleeping in a pack and play across a dark room from me and WOW, does this go against my instincts, especially at night. I want my baby next to me. Near me. With me.
But also, my baby is fast asleep and has been for ten hours without me rather than tossing and turning on me. I’m learning that parenting is a lot about what I want being different then what my baby needs and that’s ok. We can hold both grief and relief at the same time.
And it’s ok to feel both grief and gratitude for the same thing. That it’s common and even healthy.
Today I’m so grateful for the time that I get to sit in the mornings with my coffee and you all, writing and paving the way through this world and these feelings, not only for me, but for my baby alike. I’m grateful that when I wake up now I’m excited to see my baby rather than starting my day off tired and irritated. I’m grateful for the reminder that we can hold many feelings at once, and that it never has to be all or nothing.
What are you most grateful for today, dear friends? Because even within grief, there is gratitude.
Danny (and Wilder)
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Your words about feeling grief and gratitude at the same time, for the same thing, and that being okay really hit home for me. I’m feeling those things about a (very different) situation in my life, and this post allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief that it’s a normal part of life and I shouldn’t expect it to be fully one or the other. Thank you, Danny!
How did your friend do the sleep-training? I’ve tried so much to get my child to sleep better but he really only wants to sleep beside me or on me, and wakes up many times. I am so tired but doesnt want him to feel unsafe. It sounds so good that you did what you did! 💜
This really hits home! My wife and i have two boys -one is six the other just turned one a few weeks before Wilder. I am currently laying next to my six year old who refuses to sleep on his own and my wife is in our room with our one year old sleeping with her..on a mattress on the floor because our bed is too high to be safe for him. At nap time she has to stay with him the WHOLE TIME or he will wake up screaming. It’s been rough to say the least. What method did your friend use to sleep train Wilder? We could really use the advice!