What do people mean when they ask you if your baby is sleeping through the night? Do they know that normal baby sleep doesn’t always involve sleeping the entire night for 8-12 hours? Do they want to judge you if your baby isn’t sleeping through the night? Do they want to sympathize if you’re not getting a full night’s sleep? Do they really mean to ask if you’re getting enough sleep but the “normal” question to ask a new parent is about the baby’s sleep?
It doesn’t matter. I’m done caring about the motives behind the question “is your baby sleeping through the night” because I’m done answering it. I’m instituting a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about baby sleep. It may be based in superstition or coincidence or a misunderstanding in the difference between correlation and causation, but that doesn’t really matter. I’m done answering any questions about my children’s sleep.
Why, you might ask, would I do such a thing? I’ll tell you.
Any time someone asks about how well my kid is sleeping, I’ll try to be positive (and part of it is my ability to forget the frustrating times and only remember the successful, restful times) and say something like “oh, she sleeps great. She wakes up a few times to nurse but is right back to sleep, usually.” (See, I even say things like “usually” because I don’t want to jinx it.) Invariably, that very night, something different will happen (difficulty falling asleep, waking more during the night, waking earlier in the morning than usual), and I’ll remember that conversation about sleep, shake my fist and curse talking about sleep.
I’m fully aware that any of those things could happen on any other night and I’d just get frustrated, but deal with it as a variation of normal or developmental/growth spurt or what have you. The fact that I’d just spoken about sleep in a positive way makes the negative that much more negative. Hence, I am not going to talk about sleep anymore (or at least that’s my goal). If you ask me how well my newborn sleeps, well, I haven’t thought of a simple, clever, inoffensive response yet, so I might start ranting about how talking about sleep changes the sleep so I don’t want to talk about it. I guess I should work on that response.