The Toddler won’t sleep through the night. Not consistently anyway. And by consistently I mean for more than two nights in a row. We are currently in such a regressive sleep point that I’m up as often as I was when he was six months old (yep – he didn’t sleep through even then)… but now, I’m back at work and have tried to make a new ‘year’ resolution to find some me time in amidst the workload I love to heap around myself once things get going. And The Toddler is a giant compared to his six month old self so a subtle co-sleeping cuddle in mommy’s bed to get a few extra hours is becoming quite the joke.
I know what the thoughts are on co-sleeping; I’m aware that my desperate need for sleep will compromise some people’s beliefs about sleep time safety or even just prompt a comment about how I will have been making a rod for my own back and now I’m paying for it (trust me: I am well aware that I probably am). I also know that parenting is a personal thing. I’ve read books and blogs and the helpful hints that are delivered to my inbox weekly but they don’t all fit my boy. Or my parenting mode.
We’ve always had a problem with the sleep. The Fiancé told me that baby just loved his Momma and wanted extra snuggles. The health visitor told me that breastfeeding babies take longer to go through the night. My Mother assured me that breastfeeding would create a problem. My Nan told me my breastmilk wasn’t filling him enough. My Dad: he was spoilt. You can imagine the failure I felt. I persisted with the breastfeeding anyway and all of the ‘on-demand’ schedules that it created for me. But I did subscribe to the routine around bedtime in the hope that calm would perpetuate through his sleeping and coerce a longer, deeper sleep.
At four months a growth spurt hit. It was one of the hardest periods of Mommyhood so far. The excuses changed: once the food hit baby would for sure go through. He was likely just hungry. So he was weaned and then fed, milked, bathed, swathed in Jonson’s ‘purple magic’, dressed, snuggled and milked again to sleep. Soundly he went. For four hours.
People knew nothing.
My boy was booking every trend, breaking every rule. But then has it just been that this mother is too weak-willed and first time to have really tried to get a consistent full night’s sleep out of the baby…?
I’ve tried immediate soothing. I’ve tried withholding boob and just using the other bedtime cues to resettle. I’ve tried just shushing. I’ve tried dream feeding. I’ve tried bottling. I’ve bought night lights. I’ve used white noise. I’ve left music playing. I’ve put something I’ve worn in with him. I’ve tried sleeping bags. I’ve bought him in to the big bed. I’ve made sure he’s stayed in his own bed. I’ve lain next to him. I’ve sent The Fiancé in and tried to stay away so as not to provoke a milk rage. The rage has ensued anyway. Even when he has cried himself back off, he’s woken up a few hours later.
Obviously, I’ve not done all of those things at once. A variable has been exhausted until it’s put aside. On the ten nights that he has slept through, I cannot think what I’ve done differently to the other hundred and something… and yet I must have. The lack of sleep has me feeling like a failure. I worry that it will have a detrimental effect on The Toddler. I reach out to blogs and books to see what I could do better. I even raised my failure with a professional at the twelve month check up. The health visitor asked me if I’d tried a few options. They had fancy titles and pictograph explanations. I said yes to all but one: I won’t try controlled crying. Cue the look…
So here I am. 17 months after a 29 hour labour and a full night’s sleep still eludes me. I remember thinking during those first hours that I was so tired, that I’d lost a whole day of sleep and wondered when I might make a bit of it up. Oh how I laugh at my newly ‘mothered’ self now; how much I had to learn!
The Fiancé and my Mother have now just taken to telling me he will get there in his own time. They blame teething, settling in at The Childminder, having been on holiday, afternoon naps, car naps, belly ache when the sleep doesn’t come.
Other people look at me like I’m ridiculous when I say my twelve-month-plus boy doesn’t sleep through the night. Some look sympathetically. I mostly look tired. And for coffee.
Maybe I will find the magic way of getting him to go through the night. Maybe he will just do it one night and think it’s great and so do it again and again and again… And so as I sit at my desk on a Tuesday wondering how the hell I will get through my working week on three hours sleep a night I call upon the skills those blissful three hours teach me:
1. Patience – because mommy life is sent to try us and reward us bountifully if we just relax past the paranoia and see we aren’t doing so bad really;
2. Organisation – else I’d still be picking my clothes! Get everything ready pre-tired because you sure as hell won’t want to make a fashion / food / lesson plan decision at 6am having only slept from 3am…
3. Humour – there’s always some to be had. Usually at your own expense. I stopped, or tried to stop, taking myself so seriously a while ago. This motherhood malarkey is hard and there’s no perfect way, no matter what the books say. Grilling yourself for the little wrong things make the big problems seem terrifying.
4. How to make a good coffee. When the patience and the humour fail, when the make up won’t cover the lines and the shadows; the coffee always works. At least, maybe, the second one does…
The sleeplessness won’t last forever. I know that. The tiredness might last a while after the full night’s sleep returns, I know that too. It’s easy to feel like a failure as a Mommy but if The Toddler wakes up everyday boundless and curious and happy then hopefully my rookie error isn’t causing too much of an issue and in our own time, we will find our way.
(If anyone has had a similar experience or has any ‘magic’ to share, then I’d be happy to read about it – please leave me a comment. Thank you)