My first pregnancy was bliss. No sickness, pain, or discomfort. I went on with my life as it was, working as a teacher and enjoying our new home in Albuquerque.
As I approached my due date, I was nervous about how this little person was going to change our lives.
My husband and I had a great routine, lifestyle, and social life. We enjoyed going out for dinner, meeting with friends, and traveling . . . A LOT. Everyone kept telling us how we would never sleep, be completely exhausted, and our whole world would be flipped upside down.
When Jolene arrived, I embraced motherhood as many new moms do. I spent hours reading about baby sleep, determined to get her to sleep through the night as soon as possible in order to keep some sense of normalcy between my husband and me. We stuck to a schedule consisting of a bath, swaddle, white noise, and a feeding every night. And I was always careful not to “feed her to sleep.” By some miracle, she slept through the night by six weeks old. I immediately thought: why is everyone complaining about this so much? This is easy! You simply follow these steps, and the baby will sleep. Why isn’t everyone doing this?
We spent the next two years in sleep bliss with a baby who always slept 12 hours at night with a nice three-hour nap during the day. Our life changed, but not as dramatically as I thought it would.
I know. Don’t hate me.
My second pregnancy was a lot harder than the first with morning sickness, hip issues, and an extended hospital stay upon delivery. Not to mention chasing a toddler around through all of it. When sweet baby Oakley arrived, we already had our sleep game face on. We started her schedule on night one with her bath, swaddle, white noise, and feeding. We were still very careful not to “feed her to sleep.”
Six weeks went by, and this baby was up . . . all . . . night.
My husband and I were exhausted and confused. Why had this worked so well with Jolene, but not Oakley? Our friends laughed at us. One friend said to me, “Andy, you didn’t know Jolene was a unicorn baby?” I was stunned. “What’s a unicorn baby?” I asked. “Jolene was a baby who naturally slept well from night one. Some babies just do.” This had never occurred to me. I was convinced everything we had done had caused her to be a wonderful sleeper.
As I continued my research, leaning on Facebook groups, social media, and friends to help improve Oakley’s sleep, I noticed similar situations with other moms. One baby slept great, the other did not! We learned from other parents, and above all, we stuck to our routine. We became more intuitive with Oakley, paying attention to what worked for her, instead of copying exactly what we did with Jolene. Jolene loved pacifiers, Oakley didn’t. Jolene loved swaddling, Oakley didn’t. With some major trial and error, by her eighth month she was FINALLY sleeping through the night, and so were we.
Now, Oakley is 15 months old and a wonderful sleeper like her sister.
Our eight-month marathon to get her there felt impossible, but now that it’s all over, I’m proud of how it changed us as parents. No two kids are the same, and we can already see how different both of our girls are. This may be a tale of caution to all new moms out there. Did you have a unicorn baby?
If you or a mom you know is struggling with a baby who won’t sleep, I highly recommend this Facebook Group and this website. Feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to me on social media for help or suggestions on getting your little one to sleep better.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.