The mom guilt is real, y'all.
What do you do when there's only two options, and both of them have negative consequences? There is no winning no matter what you choose. Do you make a choice and move on? Or do you cry yourself to sleep trying to figure out what the magical third option that doesn't exist is, and wonder why you didn't do that instead?
If you have children of any age, you probably aren't surprised that the topic of the day in our house is sleep. It's always sleep. Who's getting it, who isn't, how to get more of it...
We've found that E's baseline is 15 hours of sleep. Minimum. On an ideal day, where schedules have been followed and no one is sick, he'll sleep 12 hours at night, and take three naps during the day with each nap being at least an hour but no longer than two and a half. Which means he'll end up with somewhere between 15 and 17 hours of sleep for the day. (Don't you wish you could be a baby again??)
However when he's at daycare, his first two naps of the day are only 30 minutes. Which means that by the time he gets home, he's only at 13 hours for the day. Sometimes if I managed to pick him up early enough I can get him down for a nap at 4:30 and get another hour in. Which still puts him at a sleep deficit and will eventually add up to an unhappy Bubba at some point. We're looking for solutions to the daycare naps, but unfortunately he just gets too excited while he's there.
Which brings us to the other night. (Yes this was days ago and I'm still upset about it). I got him home by 4:30, and he was hungry and tired and generally cranky from a long day. I gave him a bottle, and decided to risk a late nap - lying him in his crib at 5:00. My hope was that he'd sleep 45 minutes - an hour and then would wake up. So while he slept, I cooked him some broccoli and green beans, and prepped his bath for later that night.
By the time 6:15 hit, I started debating with myself. I could wake him up so that we could do our normal nightly routine. But it seemed silly to wake him up only to put him back to sleep. Or I could let him sleep. Even though he was still in his clothes from daycare, which were pretty dirty and a bit wet from spit up. And by letting him sleep I was risking that he'd wake up super early the next day, since he'd been sleeping so long.
I decided to let him sleep, because I knew he'd be really upset if I woke him (there's a reason they tell you not to wake a sleeping baby), even though I was a bit upset I didn't get any time with him that night. Tom eventually got home, and we talked about it, but decided not to wake him. We figured if he woke up before we went to bed, we'd change him into PJs, but otherwise would let him sleep.
He didn't wake up, and so we went to bed. A little while later I shot up in bed, waking Tom in the process. "What just happened?!" he asked me. As I was lying there, still worrying about him sleeping in his clothes, I remembered. The last time his diaper had been changed was at 3:30, before I picked him up. Normally when he goes to sleep at night he wears an overnight diaper plus a sized up diaper on top of that and an extra pad to keep him dry and warm all night. But because I'd only put him down for a nap, he didn't have that.
And again I weighed my options. I could wake him up and make him extremely upset and he likely wouldn't go back to sleep for at least an hour, and would possibly sleep horribly after that.. but he'd be dry, warm and clean in PJs. Or I could let him sleep in his dirty daycare clothes and old diaper and be soaked and cold all night long. Again, I don't think there was a right answer here. We let him sleep, and I freaked out all night long.
He woke up the next morning after 14 hours straight, soaking wet but well rested. Tom declared him happy and fine, but I still sit here second guessing myself. My co-worker laughed at me when I told him the story "So the baby is perfectly fine, you know there was no right answer, you know you're being dumb for beating yourself up, and you know you should let it go... but you aren't." Yup. I guess that's parenthood?
Here's to learning to let things go and settling for good enough. E doesn't seem to notice.