A baby that sleeps through the night is often every parent’s dream. Mine does not. Her screaming has pierced my night time dreams two to six times per night for the past eight months. She woke me up before she was even born, so it’s not like I wasn’t used to waking up at night, but I assumed that she would be sleeping through the night by now – especially since my older daughter was sleeping six to eight hours a night by three weeks old. Yeah, they are so opposite when it comes to sleeping and their temperaments! I have learned to embrace these sleepless nights and cheer when she sleeps a little longer – like this morning when she slept in until 8 a.m after only waking up three times between 10:30 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.

If my baby slept through the night I wouldn’t get the extra snuggles. There is something so quiet and peaceful about cuddling a sleeping baby in the middle of the night. It used to take over a half hour for her to drift back to sleep and now it’s just a few minutes after she finishes feeding. Many people would call this an improvement, but it’s a reminder at how she’s changing and growing on her time. God created her to be special and unique and accepting this is part of knowing who she is and what she needs. She needs some extra snuggles and that’s okay. I have tried giving her extra solid food before bed, a bottle of formula, a bottle a breast milk with rice cereal and have decided it’s just not her time to sleep through the night yet. I won’t give up on trying tricks to help her sleep, but I’m choosing not to stress over it.

If my baby slept through the night I wouldn’t be as creative in managing my day. I’m a first class over scheduler. I like to get things done because it feels good and I have deadlines to meet. Getting housework and work done when you are tired is hard and trying (especially with a five-year-old excitedly asking her book of questions as we tick off the minutes of the day). I have to prioritize my day around why my baby will sleep and it often includes taking a nap or at least laying down and resting myself. Taking care of a baby, older kids, work, housework and resting is a full time job and requires a lot of juggling. It’s okay to take a nap when the baby is sleeping, even when the baby is nearly eight months old.

If my baby slept through the night I would not have as many quiet moments with God. I often talk to God as I’m nursing and rocking my baby. I remind myself how great of a life I have and mentally go through all the reasons I’m thankful for my husband, daughter and even the challenges that each day brings. I also spend this time thinking through items on my to-do list and upcoming plans. I work best when it’s quiet, so the middle of the night works for me. Yes, I also ponder how wide I should open my eyes to balance not becoming wide awake and not falling asleep.

If my baby slept through the night I wouldn’t have as many quiet moments admiring my older daughter. At five, I know she’s fine sleeping through the night (most nights, at least!), but I take advantage of slipping into her room and watching her sleep. This never gets old for me. Thankfully, she is such a hard sleeper so she doesn’t often wake up because of her screaming sister. I do not pick her up and rock her anymore, but it fills my heart and relaxes my mind to see her sleeping so peacefully. These moments are going fast and balance out her spicy sassy little self during the day.

Do I look forward to when my baby sleeps through the night? Yes and no. I will be filled with terror the first time wondering if she’s okay (just like I was with her sister), but my heart will settle and adjust. Then I’m sure I will start depending on her sleeping through the night so maybe I can get up early to work or workout. Right now I’m just going with it – no need to stress or compare my sweet baby to all my other friend’s babies who have been sleeping through the night since day one. I’m embracing who she is now and know that she will sleep more than a three hour stretch some day.

Elise Cleary

Elise Cleary writes from Traverse City, Michigan after leaving a career in marketing to stay home with her two young daughters, Anika and Teagan. She started blogging at http://aliveandfighting.com/ in 2015 about her journey following a gluten free lifestyle and a life that's worth fighting for as a mom, wife, and writer while trusting God's lead. She shares the fun, challenges and life lessons that come in balancing work deadlines and nap time while choosing joy in the exhausting and stressful moments.