You can handle anything on a good nights sleep and it will come, even if in phases.
When we first brought our daughter home, we had weeks and weeks of crying, screaming, not sleeping… me and the baby that is! I actually think most of the crying came from me after a while, from exhaustion. It isn’t just tiredness; it was a feeling I had never experienced before. People talk about being “tired” as parents but you don’t understand the extent of it until it’s you. True sleep deprivation… it’s no wonder it is used as a torture method.
At the beginning our daughter had day and night round the wrong way. What was not helpful, after more than a month of 5am bedtimes, was when someone would say “do this”, or “do that”. I WAS DOING THIS AND THAT! In fact I was doing anything humanly possible to change it but it took time. It all takes time, nothing with a baby happens instantly which is why patience is key… something I’ve really had to work on. People’s advice was, of course, offered with the best intentions with people genuinely trying to help but it doesn’t feel that way to a hormonal, exhausted Mama. We’ve all been there. That feeling will pass too.
I remember so clear the turning point that I could even give you a date; that is how much it meant to me. I didn’t realise at the time but 9 months on, I know it was at that point we turned a corner because I will never forget it.
It was April 2019, the evening that series 8 of Games of Thrones was due to air at 2am. It was so normal for us to be up at that time that I just assumed we would be watching it. My now fiancé had gone to bed earlier and set an alarm for just before 2am… because he couldn’t risk spoilers the next day on Twitter… yes, I am serious. That night I had managed to settled her around 11pm and at 2am his alarm woke me up! Luckily not the baby but I was fuming. Furious is an understatement. He asked me, “are you going to get her up and watch GOTs?”, I said NO! I wasn’t waking her, what if this is the night she sleeps through and not just between 5-10am!
She did just that. I was stunned, elated, emotional (what’s new?), just simply ecstatic. That’s not to say that she is now a champion sleeper, we have good nights and bad nights. She is now 10 months old and I am sitting at work falling asleep at my desk because she’s woken me during the night screaming for 4 nights in a row. Last week she slept 12 hours a night for the whole week… it is ups and downs and with experience, I know it comes in phases, I can cope with exhaustion now.
It was in that glorious night in 2019 that I knew that she could sleep and would, if not all of the time. It gives you a glimmer of hope and a bit of rest. With that bit of rest you feel you can handle everything else.
I learned patience during that time and also not to beat myself up. I sat many a night in a dark, lonely living room just crying because I so desperately needed sleep. There will be so many Mums who can relate but I am sure you know that you are not alone. I didn’t know that but I do now. My heart still sinks now when I hear her on the monitor in the middle of the night. I get up and pray that she just needs her dummy… it feels selfish but it is okay, it’s human. Who really wants to be up in the middle of the night?! Unless you have a cocktail in your hand!
I can’t promise that you and your baby won’t go through phases, mine does… I told her only this morning that waking me at 4.45am was not acceptable but she ignored me, so we got up before 5am and I went to work at 7am. Hope she had some nice naps today… I haven’t! ha! But every bad, exhausting phase will pass and you will feel better.
You’ll rarely sleep when they sleep, you just won’t (that’s your time), but it is sound advice if you can… failing that, get yourself a LARGE coffee, some chocolate and sleep well at night Mamas, if you can xxx