Firstly I am so grateful for everyone who took time out of their day to read my blog "A Labour of Love" focusing on labour, and Post Natal Depression. I am overwhelmed at the wonderful comments, messages and support I have had in bringing this important issue into light.
Right, this is not a post about The Beatles, (although I am humming the song as I type) it is about the wonderful topic that unites almost every parent around the globe - Sleepless Nights.
Now when I fell pregnant with Lylha I was well aware that as a Newborn there would be many a night where sleep was a distant dream away, and looking into the future I had guessed her teenage years will bring on the odd sleepless night, however, what I (and a fair few of my Yummy Mummy friends) didn't envisage was a toddler who would rather sleep on a laminate floor than go up in her cot and settle down for the night!
The night Lylha was born I was absolutely astounded that she went to sleep at 11pm and awoke for a feed at 6am the following morning, I rather smuggly text my husband at home this wonderful piece of news and proceeded to brag a little about it to some of the maternity staff... When the midwives came around on day 2 I told them this and the midwife told me - this happens a lot on baby's first day, they go through all the energy of labour too and she was probably as tired as you were... She was very right, night 2 was singularly one of the hardest experiences I had ever had, genuinely. I was still in hospital (if you hadn't read my last blog Lylha was delivered by emergency C Sec), in a fair amount of pain, the excitement of my family coming to meet her had been and gone, Michael had left for the night to get some rest and I then tried to settle Lylha at 11pm on a bottle and go off to sleep... Did this happen?? Did it hell!!! Lylha screamed all through the night, regardless of being fed, changed or simply cuddled - as a very new Mum I was constantly buzzing the staff to check she was ok and intermittently texting my hubby with hourly updates of "she is still awake!!!" Eventually we both fell asleep at 7am the following morning as both of us were totally shattered.
Day 3 We were allowed home, and as we got through the first day of Lylha in her new home and the lovely visitors "popping past" wanting cuddles and pictures, I was suddenly aware of how shattered I was and terrified of the night ahead - which again was equally as painful as the night before, only this time I had my husband shouting at me saying "We can't have this every night". This goes to prove no matter how aware you are of sleepless nights until you are actually in that position there is no way of describing how hard and how stressful they become.
For the 1st 3 months of her life (totally normally) Lylha would awake at least 3 times a night, and from about 4pm every afternoon I would begin to feel anxious, fearful and emotional of the night I had ahead - (I will ad Michael helped me in the early days at weekends but in the week he started work at 5am.) I thought I was stupid being scared of night times, but I was most definitely not the only new parent feeling that way.
By 6m I was still getting up at least twice a night for over an hour each time to feed, change and cuddle back to sleep and my Health Visitor (who do a good job most of the time) really upset me by saying "She is a bit old to be waking all the time have you weaned her?" - We were only just starting the weaning process and I was really put out thinking should I have done this earlier, is it my fault my child doesn't sleep and in turn both her and I get irritable too quickly?
At 10m Lylha would possibly sleep for 6 hours but still be awake the rest of the night and getting her too sleep was a horrible battle (one that still reduces me to tears on a regular basis), we began stopping cuddling her to sleep downstairs, and after her bath and bottle routine laying her in her cot with a musical light to watch and listen too, to get her go down for the night... Yeah right!! That was the plan anyway - she would scream and scream to come out of her cot, me being her Mummy and a total softy can not bear this noise so I was fighting myself and back the tears not to go in and soothe her every other minute - my husband on the other hand doesn't find the controlled crying difficult he just sees it as a way of her learning how to go to bed, in theory this is great, in practise its heart wrenching and unbearable.
Also around this time I found myself stopping going to Mummy groups, I never fully took to these anyway, as I was finding it increasingly difficult to listen to "oh my child sleeps through, has done since they were...old" when you haven't slept in 10m and feel you must be doing something wrong this kind of speak makes you want to either cry or scream - or both as I did on a frequent basis.
The stress of no sleep also took a huge toll on my relationship and my weight, being tired I was craving sugary foods, and quite frankly couldn't be arsed to exercise and eat healthy - as long as Lylha had a decent healthy dinner I was happy on wine and crisps... 2 stone heavier happier in fact!
By 12m we had cracked the odd night of unbroken sleep - which even if its 1 night in 7 is a saviour - if you are in a place now where your bubba won't sleep I promise you when you get the odd night you do feel that your sanity is somewhat restored. Of course the other 6 nights are painful and stressful but a small weight does arise of your shoulders, and gives you the chance to say to others "ha my baby finally slept a whole night" like many others the 1st time this happened for me was a momentous occasion one that needed a bloody good facebook status and a few family text arounds!
As she got older eventually we have reached a few good nights each week of sleep, but by no means in a position where we can say "our daughter sleeps everynight". What hasn't eased though is bedtime fun, at 21 months she is much more aware of everything - including when In the Night Garden Comes on, knowing bed time is around the corner - and sure enough as soon as she is in her cot, music and nightlights on, main light off and door pulled too the screaming starts - as does the every 10 min traipse up and down the stairs, letting our tea go cold, our tempers flare, and my tears flood. Its a regular thing to take 2 hours to settle her down - which then in itself feels an achievement, only to be destroyed on the nights she doesn't sleep or the mornings when she believes 4am is a perfectly adequate time of day to be arising!
I can honestly say it does get easier the older they get, and the slightly more used to it you get - but for everyone of you that thinks you have to put on a front that your baby sleeps, don't! I think the ones that don't are the majority and there is a weird snobbery (fake word but don't care) surrounding baby sleeping patterns.
I also am aware that lack of sleep can add to Post Natal Depression (which my last blog focused on) so if your in that place speak to your Dr, Health Visitor, a friend or your Mum - she has been there!
Lack of sleep is hard on anyone, especially new parents who have an uphill learning curve from the moment the little one is handed to them - but we do it, we are built for it and for every bad day there's Jeremy Kyle - perfect pick me up when your reminded No matter how difficult your world is at the moment at least I am not on his stage awaiting the DNA on the 4th potential Dad!