Catching a wink or forty

Photo by  Davd Mao  on  Unsplash

Photo by Davd Mao on Unsplash

I need sleep.

I’m sure most mums of children under five (every part of me wants to say one but I know that’s not realistic) would agree that a full night’s sleep is what we miss most about our pre-children life.

It has been exactly four months and 25 days since I had a full night’s sleep. That’s exactly the age of my son, plus one night of contractions (I also watched a whole Netflix series that night) and one night before that where I was full of the flu (a great time for my body to go into labour, don’t you think?).

Life isn’t too bad – but the strange thing about not sleeping properly is that on the one hand I’m amazed at how easy it is to function and on the other hand I’m not entirely sure whether I should still legally be allowed to drive.

I miss it. I love being a parent but maaaan, I sure miss a good night’s sleep.

Ashton had gone from the dream baby who slept eight hours to one who can only manage 3-4 hours. Believe it or not, I was okay with that until a few nights ago when he refused to go back to sleep after a 2am wake-up. One night I even took him into the lounge and didn’t get back to bed until 4am.

This continued for a couple of nights. On my third night of little sleep, I was breastfeeding my son for what felt like the millionth time. I cried and cried and cried, while he stayed happily latched on, and I convinced myself I was going to be tired FOREVER.

And just when I thought I’d hit rock bottom the floor dropped out from underneath me.

The following night (My fourth night of little sleep) we had a few friends over. Ashton had been up for a little longer than usual and when he started to rub his eyes I knew it was well past his bedtime. I left the living room and confidently settled him in to bed as usual.

But this time he just wouldn’t sleep.

The night wore on, our guests left and our baby was still awake. At times he was happy, laughing and still wanting to play. Other times he was angry, crying and clearly very frustrated. At all times, sleep was not on the agenda.

At 11:30pm I finally clicked that something might be wrong. Thinking he had a stomach ache, I squirted some Colic Calm into his mouth. And oh my goodness, he completely lost it.

Before I knew it he was crying, I was crying (Two nights in a row!) and not even the boob could calm either of us down – he just wouldn’t take it. After I finally comforted him with a cuddle, he slept only slept two hours at a time for the rest of the night.

At 4:30am, my husband and I woke to the sound of my baby crying AGAIN. We had extremely blurry, red eyes and Ashton had a snotty nose and a nasty cough. He had been suffering from a sore throat all night long, and mum and dad hadn’t figured it out.

Whoops – what a bad-mum moment.

I’ll never claim to be an expert on sleep, or how to have cracked the coveted 12-hour-straight infant sleep, but here are a few things I’ve learnt on my all-too-short journey.

Five Sleepy things to remember

  1. Nothing can make your baby fall asleep forever, eventually they’ll have to learn it themselves.
  2. If your baby refuses to stick to their usual sleep pattern, ask yourself some questions. Are they too hot? Are they too cold? Are they hungry? Are they sick? Is this just a growth spurt?
  3. Your baby will sleep again no matter how long it might take (they can’t stay up forever!)
  4. When it comes to babies, everything is usually just a phase. Just because they’re not sleeping for long now, doesn’t mean it will be that way forever and vice versa (unfortunately!).
  5. Daytime is for sleeping too. I’m not just meaning for baby, I’m meaning for mum too!

Seriously, the one thing that has helped me regain my sanity has been napping during the day. As difficult as it is to give up your day to catch a few z’s, I’ve woken up feeling fresh, revitalised and ready for another night of wake-ups after a one hour nap.

I have a day schedule that I expect my baby to stick to (that schedule is that I do what I want, when I want and my baby goes with me) so it’s only fair that Ashton has a night schedule that I have to stick to. Sometimes he sleeps two hours straight, sometimes six, but I’m ready for whatever he throws my way.

I will have good days, I will have bad days, but I refuse to believe I will be sleepless forever.

Rachel Chen