My child doesn’t sleep well. So what? I’m over it. We knew we had a sleep thief on our hands from about day three when she wouldn’t go to sleep at all unless it was curled up on one of our chests. Days one to two she lulled us into a false sense of security where she slept constantly and it was the devil’s own job to wake her for a feed. This is easy we thought. Oh no… little miss had other ideas.
In the early days I didn’t worry about it. I’m a massive believer in and nurturing the ‘fourth trimester’. She didn’t understand that she was outside of me or the difference between day and night so we kept her close, did loads of skin to skin and believed that eventually she would sleep in her moses basket. Well what a waste of money they are. She spent approximately 6 minutes in it and the little lanky bean pole out grew it by 12 weeks completely.
Since then she has divided her time between her cot and our bed (roughly 1% in the cot and 99% in our bed to be precise). The point is she has never ‘slept through’ (I’m actually unable to pinpoint what we mean when we say ‘slept through’ – 8pm to 8am, 12pm to 6am, 1am to 9am – who knows? That’s why I’m referring to ‘sleeping well’) When I was breast feeding she woke every two hours until we weaned her then it went to every three hours. Brilliant.
I was promised at various stages that her sleep would improve. She’ll turn a corner at 12 weeks. Nope. Maybe six months. Nope. Hopefully when she goes onto solids. Nope. When she starts crawling, she’ll use up more energy. Nope. Nursery, definitely when she starts nursery…. You can see the pattern emerging.
The thing I don’t understand is how obsessed everyone is with a baby sleeping. It’s usually the first thing they ask. That and “Is she good?” What do you mean? Good is a relative term. She’s only had one exploding poo in public today so yes she’s good. Can she say her ten times table yet, well we’re working on it so maybe not so good. When you reply in the negative about her sleep they will then launch into giving you advice which is usually covered by one of the following:
- Stop feeding her at night. Are you frickin’ mad?
- Leave her to cry it out. No way. (Actually we did it once and I’ve never forgiven myself. Horrible, horrible, horrible.)
- Put her down drowsy but awake. What the actual hell? If she’s awake then she is not asleep and will therefore not sleep. This mythical drowsy but awake does not exist (in my and several beleaguered friends’ experience).
Eventually I gave in to her bonkers sleeping patterns and things became much easier. By accepting the current state it actually allowed me to adjust to sleeping in blocks of a few hours and with a baby that only likes to sleep parallel with the pillow and her feet wedged in my face.
I was really worried about coming back to work but again you do adjust and there is coffee at the office. Hot coffee, oh the joys and of course my trusty bee pollen (see earlier blog post). I figure that when the time comes that she does sleep through it will be a lovely, lovely surprise where I’ll skip out of bed in the morning Disney character style with a big refreshed yawn and blue birds flying round my head. La la la….
The truth is every baby is different and it doesn’t matter how long they take to sleep well. The point is they will get there. Whatever their sleeping pattern, they are getting what they need and it’s really more about managing our expectations about when we will reach ‘full nights’ sleep’ nirvana again. It also doesn’t matter how you go about your sleeping arrangements. As long as you are safe and it suits your family then that is fine and anyone who tells you otherwise well in the interests of being polite, smile and nod and then instantly empty your brain of their offerings.
Don’t get me wrong I know people mean well but I don’t need is your sympathy, I don’t need your bloomin’ advice and I certainly don’t need to hear about how your little darling slept through from being five minutes old. Have you got any sleep (or lack of it) stories to share? Please leave me a comment and we can celebrate our sleep deprived, twilight existence together.