Saturday, May 25, 2013

Why It Hurts When You Ask

Have you ever been through a difficulty or trial? I'm sure we all have, in one form or another! Sometimes a particular trial can lead to questions, and lots of them. A trial I never thought could be so arduous has been that of getting a baby to sleep "like a baby." I wish someone had told me from day one that every child is different, including their sleep needs (inherent) and habits (changeable). I wish someone had told me that these differences in kids were beautiful images of what could come (though difficult), rather than promising that babies could simply sleep like babies if we could just get with the program.
We've been praying for some of the same things for over a year in relation to Sophia's sleep needs and habits. We've sought counsel from seasoned parents, talked to the doctor, read too many books & blogs, and tried half a million "tricks." A few months ago, Brian and I stopped trying to fight the trial of sleep deprivation and simply gave ourselves over to it. We determined that Sophia sleeps as much as she needs to and that she might change one day but it won't be because of anything we've done. She is healthy. She is unique. She is passionate. She is a marathoner, not a sprinter. Her endurance will be a strength to her as she grows. She is EXACTLY the way she is supposed to be right now.
So if I'm so strong in my resolve about this situation, why does it hurt when people (family, friends, aquaintences) continue to prob us with questions like these:
  • What does the doctor say?
  • Have you tried leaving a light on?
  • Have you tried playing music?
  • Have you tried feeding her? She's probably hungry.
  • I've heard babies don't like cold cribs. Have you tried a heating pad?
  • Maybe she is having dreams.
  • Is she teething?
  • Is she sick? She must not be feeling well.
  • Have you given her any Tylenol?
  • Is she too cold/hot?
These questions, and the thousands beyond, hurt because you assume we haven't investigated the problem ourselves. Sadly, what the problem is one night might not be the same the next night, so trust me, we don't have any lasting, fail-safe solution. 
In the concise words of my dear friend Katie (who makes the same point but in much sweeter prose):
I wish someone had told me this years ago, before I knew better:

If you know someone like me with babies who have trouble sleeping, don't assume we need advice.
We have read every book, every article, tried everything.
We are desperate for our babies to sleep better.
We are probably a lot better informed than someone who's baby naturally sleeps a lot!
Unless we ask for advice,
all we need are hugs, encouragement, prayer, and tangible help for our weary minds and bodies.

Praying for all you other moms who are worn down by crying babies who won't sleep!
When you continue to ask, I know you say it is because "you're just curious." But what do you plan to do with my answers? You plan to create a strategy or solution to suggest to remedy our trial. I appreciate your desire to help, but sometimes it's more helpful to leave the wound to heal. I'm exhausted, I want answers, but God hasn't given us a solution so we just have to keep on living. When you ask, it's like asking me to take a u-turn and reconsider the difficulty of the trial.
Help me instead to move forward. Help me to focus on the things I can change and to trust God with the things I can't. Help me to not heap false guilt upon my very tired and pregnant soul. Sophia's sleep is in the hands of God and He knows exceedingly more than I ever will. For goodness sake, leave your expert opinions about sleep at the door and let's talk about the weather :)

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