One word that brings so much misery, to expectant parents, new parents and existing parents everywhere.
When I was pregnant every person known to man would tell me how I would never sleep again; how you get used to existing on no sleep. It’s funny how people laugh about it, and tell you it’s some parental rite of passage to never sleep again.
When the boy was born there was no such thing as sleep anymore. Night and day merged into a long mass of feeding and changing nappies.
The first six weeks were hard – I tried to take everyone elses advice on board and tried to sleep when he slept. But the chores didn’t do themselves, so that only happened rarely.
Now, even at age 3 he wakes and grumbles through the night; and of course with my super sensitive mum senses I wake up every bloody time.
Every night, week, months I’ve told myself it will get easier – especially when working a ten hour shift on three hours sleep and crying into my coffee.
I am a sleep misery. I can’t exist without it.
I’ve always needed 8 hours sleep, and I get sad and miserable when I don’t get it.
Even as a mum, I’ve never been able to function on limited sleep. After bad nights I was the mum that cancelled play dates and appointments because I couldn’t think or speak on limited sleep.
And I’m so miserable when I’m tired, so SO miserable
I so wanted to be one of those mums that always turned out looking decent, always looks fabulous and always managed to carry on despite no sleep.
But I never was and I never will be.
Sorry to any new or expectant parents reading this, hoping as I did that it gets easier – it never has for me, sorry to shatter your hopes and dreams.
Last week the boy was ill and we spent three days shut indoors while he was poorly, typically he would only sleep when I was writing/doing chores/doing other soul-destroying tasks that kept me from a short slumber.
He woke every hour for five days. And it was the same every time – a grumble that turned into a cry that turned into a shout for mummy(daddy was sparko, grrrr); a quick cuddle and comfort from mummy and he fell back to sleep.
But I would lay awake for thirty or so minutes. And just as I dozed off – he’d wake again.
It’s worse than a hangover being tired – you have a headache and a constant sick feeling; you can’t speak, concentrate or focus.
And the world feels like a really dark, lonely place.
I have to pinch myself sometimes to remind myself that it won’t be forever and to treasure it(#blessed) – I wanted to be a mum more than anything and I thank the big guy upstairs every day for bringing the little man into my life.
But I find myself wishing away the years; craving the age where he doesn’t want to get out of bed, and the day I may actually get more than three hours sleep without being woken up.
It’s always a friendship maker or breaker between mums – on one side there’s the camp who are sleep deprived and their little angels wake up until the age of sixteen or whenever it may be.
And then there is always that one who’s child slept through from three hours old and has never woken in the night.
Me? I’m right in the middle – I feel like I’ve been really lucky(I’m touching wood while typing this) as he has been really good for keeping to routine and staying in bed; however I can’t remember a night where he hasn’t woken up.
There is a huge misunderstanding of the term ‘sleeping through the night’ – there are numerous books about techniques and ways to get your child to sleep through.
As time went on for me, the definition of ‘sleeping through the night’ became clear: if you child sleeps most of the time between 7pm and 7am that’s classed as sleeping through. Like the times they don’t really sleep but because you slept on the floor in their bedroom, and you didn’t give in and get up, that’s sleeping through right?
When you look into the reality, it’s really rare for children to sleep completely through and the term seems to loosely mean that they have remained upstairs all night; regardless of whether they have slept or not.
It may get easier as he gets older – but ridiculous ideals of how children should sleep makes parents feel inadequate and like their child isn’t doing what they should be.
My advice? Ditch the books, don’t listen to the shit advice, and trust your gut – every child is different and what worked for Janet at number 21 probably won’t work for you. Just go with it – and look after yourself!