is he sleeping through the night? (part one)

March 2, 2010

why is it that the only question people can think to ask me is, "is he sleeping through the night yet?"  it's like the standard stock question that flies out of everyone's mouth as soon as they lay their eyes on the nubile fresh meat of a struggling new mom.  is it that they seriously can't think of anything else to say?  is it all they remember about having a baby? are they just trying to drive me crazy?

as a disclaimer, i'm not talking about when my sister-in-law or friends ask (including you, beloved reader). because i know they genuinely care about x y z and why when how.  when they ask it's because they want to lend me a friendly ear to share things about the jude.  what i'm specifically referring to is the "acquaintances" in my office, and the friends of friends of relatives, and strangers in line at target.  not appropriate, people.

BAD PEOPLE, BAD! no cookie for you!

so, is he sleeping through the night?
there are only two possible outcomes for the answer:

if you say no... they look at you with their disappointed sad face and their offensively withering feeling-sorry-for-you eyes.  then they may or may not gloat in your situation and offer you unsolicited advice about sleep training books that they/their children/someone-they-met-one-time read and how great it was for them.  if you make the mistake of elaborating and telling them the dirty details of what's going on they'll tell you allllllll about how what you're doing is wrong wrong wrong.

if you say yes... they won't believe you.  even if it is true.  direct yourself to the top of "what happens when you say no" because they are going to tell you all about it regardless, because they don't believe you.  ladies will narrow their eyes and turn up their noses and scoff (SCOFF! out loud!).  and you'll be petrified to even say yes because saying it out loud tends to jinx that kind of thing and there will be hell to pay.

i've tried both options on different occasions with different people.  i did not like any of the answers i received back.

it was a similar problem when i was pregnant.  it was always, "how are you feeeeling?" and because i was blessed with an easy pregnancy my answer was always, "great!"  and people were SO DISSAPPOINTED that i was doing great.  like that was not a satisfactory answer.  they only wanted to hear about how horrible everything was and swelling and tiredness and blah blah blah.  it drove me crazy.  i'm sorry, person i don't know very well, things are going great for me and you're upset about this? my life is not a television drama here to entertain you.

i'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt that maybe people just don't know what to ask a new parent or pregnant mom.  they're trying to show an interest, show some polite concern.  and the spirit of that is great.  but when it's the first question out of every random person's mouth it starts to grind its gritty slicing path way up to, in, and around my nether regions.  especially when they disregard my answer.  are you only asking to hear yourself talk?  do you feel like you have to? because really, you don't.  we can just talk about the weather instead.

i've learned that the best technique is to say something totally vague and non-committal.  because no, my baby isn't sleeping through the night, but i'm not upset about it nor am i looking for judgment or advice.  basically, i don't want to talk about it with a random stranger.  so i find myself saying things like, "we're all getting the rest we need" and, "he's doing great, he's such a happy baby" and, "close enough".  i do sort of enjoy the look on their faces when they slowly process that i actually haven't answered the question at all, and they don't feel comfortable enough to ask for details just so they can verbally spam me. but you know what i like better?  THEM NOT ASKING.

here's a quick question asking checklist: do you actually know this person? are you friends with them? do you care about their answer? are you trying to make yourself feel better by finding someone you think you can pity?  just so you can remember when that happened to you and thank god you don't have to do it anymore?  if you ask because you care, bring it on.  it is very appreciated.  as a new mom i find myself absorbed with baby stuff and that includes sleep issues.  so i want to talk about it, just not if you're asking for the wrong reasons.  or if i don't know you.  then back the hell off, regardless.

{why is this the first question everyone asks?
since when did we expect babies to sleep through the night?
is that even a realistic goal?

this concludes the crazy ranting portion of our sleep post.
stop by tomorrow for part two, the informational part.}




I'm curious for the informational half... though I enjoyed reading the ranting half. :) I have no kids, and therefore, no advice for you, whether the answer is yes or no! I do have LOTS of friends and relatives with babies, and I can't imagine telling any of them how to "do it right!" ... much less tell a stranger. No cookies for them indeed.

wrestling kitties

Question: Is your child sleeping through the night?

Answer: I don't know, we lock him up in his cage at night in the other room and don't pay attention.

I ask general questions like that at times but it is truly out of interst but I imagine most people don't care, want to give advice or are trying to compare to their kids!


I find it best to live by the general rule that people I don't know suck. This may work for you in situations like these!

I still have people ask me if Jay sleeps all night. Umm, he's 9, of course he does. I hate the assumptions people make, especially since Jay is special needs. Just because he is developmentally behind doesn't mean he still has the sleep habits of an infant.


So, since I'm childless too, I have nothing to add.


I've read all your archives now. And I feel like I've sufficiently stalked you. Awesome.


So funny...and true! I just assumed that question disappeared when your baby got older. Shit!

Oh, and how about the, "Is the baby here yet?" question you get a million freakin times when you're pregnant. It's the first question asked every time someone calls or you call them. When you say, "Not yet" they usually say, "Oh." and then act like the rest of your conversation isn't too exciting because it's NOT ABOUT A BABY.

I pretty much quit using my phone for the last week of my pregnancy...


*sigh* I can so relate. Welcome to motherhood I'm afraid. Where everyone gives unsolicited advice on every move you make. Gets old but doesn't really ever get better.

I am one of the lucky few whose children slept through the night absurdly early. So I am the one that gets called names and scoffed at. People are always asking "how I did it" and all kinds of nosey questions. I have learned to just say I'm lucky like that and walk away. Most people don't REALLY care. They are just being people and have no boundaries.


Do you have ANY idea how bad of a mother I am because my 2 1/2 year old still will only give me 6 hours straight at the most? And I should be drawn and quartered because I sleep with her to boot. And what fate should I suffer for just getting her off the breast milk a couple months ago??

I think you can assume how well MY conversations go with people.

Ky (Two Pretzels)

Great post. (As always.)

I feel that there are a group of possibly well-intentioned women out there who come across as asshats.

They're the same women who scoff at those of us who are blessed with great pregnancies and those of us who actually (gasp!!!) enjoy breastfeeding.

People like to commiserate, no? I feel that many times those crazy people who ask you those questions are merely asking so that can either a.) tell you about their experiences or b.) tell you what you're possibly doing wrong.

Your responses are PERFECT.

Note: I completely exclude friends from this comment. Friends can ask anything they want.

AND, I've noticed that the minute I tell ANYONE that Lila is sleeping well - that same damn night - she gets up at least 3 times.



oh jamie...i feel your pain. i get this question from the same aquaintance person at work EVERY week. no, nothing significant has changed in the last 7 days crazy person who just wants to talk at me about her experiences and give advice over and over again.

and it seems like it's getting even worse now that max is 7 months- like i'm doing something wrong because he still gets up once a night. i'm ecstatic that it's only once a night, by the way.

i like your responses i'm going to have to try those. :)


I allowed people's comments to affect me so much that when Peanut was about 2 months old, I bought the No Cry Sleep Solution. It specifically says that you have to make sure it's YOU that thinks there's a problem with the way your baby sleeps, not the people around you.

Now when people ask I just say "I don't know. I just roll over and stick her on a boob." Not only does it confuse them because it was not a response they expected at all (because co-sleeping isn't the norm), but it's true too!

the grumbles

lactating girl- I love that response! I'm not sure I'm ballsy enough to use it, but I'll have to file it away in my sassy-response arsenal.

Amber, The Unlikely Mama

This reminds me soooooooo much of my dealings with a friend while I was pregnant. EVERY time we talked she would rant on and on about how horrible pregnancy was for her, and how much she hated it. I think she truly just wanted a friend in the pain, but I couldn't be that.

When I would insist that my pregnancy had been fairly easy and pleasant, she would only come back with things that could go wrong later down the road. Like how morning sickness can rear its ugly head in the 3rd trimester again like it did for her. Ummm thanks for the words of encouragement bitch! Yeah...I didn't talk to her much for about a year after that. Ugh.

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