428 Days Later

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5.45 this morning.  I’m lying in bed, weeping.

So far, so standard for the parent of a shitty sleeper.

For the last 14 months, I’ve been woken up several times a night by my wailing child.  On many of those nights I’ve found myself crying too.  Desperation, sheer exhausted misery, and – of course – burning torturous maternal guilt.

Why can’t I make this baby sleep; I’m a useless mother; shit I can’t believe I actually just contemplated throwing her across the room; I’m doing this all wrong.

The motherhood manuals lied to me.  My baby didn’t sleep ‘like a baby’. I want to scrawl ‘FUCK YOU’ in jagged red pen on the pics of tots blissfully asleep in their cots.  My reality was altogether different.
COT OF EVIL

Daytimes presented their own particular challenges.  Maya REFUSED to sleep unaided or in a horizontal position.  ‘Nap when the baby naps’ is NO FUCKING GOOD when your baby won’t let you put them down.

For half a year our naptime routine involved a gym ball, a sling, and a YouTube video of hairdryer white noise.  Bouncing dog-tired for hours on a sphere of rubber was far preferable to vigorous step-ups (noooooooooo), our only other nap technique.

Some people raised eyebrows but it worked, yo. Plus, the bouncing sorted out my leaky pelvic floor.

P1110068
So I bounced, I read, I googled, I yawned. I downed endless cups of tea (shit maybe it’s the caffeine keeping her up?) and mainlined Hobnobs.

And I obsessed. OH MY FUCKNESS I obsessed.  I maintained intricate sleep records for months in hope we’d crack the code of baby slumber (we didn’t).

SLEEPCRAZY

I lurked on a thousand forums, confused by the conflicting advice, judging myself and all the other mothers in the world; feeling bad for not being tough enough for hardcore sleep training, feeling bad for even considering hardcore sleep training, feeling bad for occasionally limply attempting hardcore sleep training and then giving up because I just. wanted. to. fucking. sleep. and it tore my hippy heart to shreds hearing my child cry out for me.

Whatever I did or didn’t do, it wasn’t right.

And I was SO. TIRED.

And then, at seven months, apropos of nothing, Maya agreed to nap in a cot.

2013-08-06 12.57.28
We put the gym ball away, bringing an end to the silent nap judgement.  I got a few hours to refuel for the multiple wake-ups at night.

But nonetheless by eleven months I was spent. I called a strike on getting out of bed, and lovely husband instead brought the babe to me for night-time boob feeds.  I felt stupid for starting to co-sleep (danger! creating a rod for your back! yadayaya) and simultaneously felt stupid for not having tried co-sleeping before (cozylovey and so much comfier than wrenching neck snoozing tits out in a chair).

By her first birthday, I was entirely inconsistent in my reactions to her wakings – cry it out one day, earth mother the next – and I resigned myself to fact I was DEFINITELY doing it all wrong. I was a pathetic parent, but too angsed-out to care.

And I paid my dues.  The thirteen month sleep regression saw her quit naps and wake up to TEN TIMES A FUCKING NIGHT.

I looked wearily at motherhood manuals again.

But then, but then, last night.

I put her down at seven, and myself down at half ten.

Seven hours later I wake, birds chirping dawn streaking sweating confused rock-hard tits. No baby breathing next to me.

Baby must still be in cot.

Baby must have SLEPT THROUGH!  At last!!!!!!!

Or.

Baby could be dead.

I mean. She could be dead…

A little pallid corpse waiting for me next door.

I wonder how I could survive without her.

And I realise just how much I love her (inestimable amounts).

And the tears come.

And I WILL her to wake up.

And, eventually she does.  All by herself.

Morning

 

17 thoughts on “428 Days Later
  1. As always, I love your honesty. And your humour. And the photo of you with Maya sleeping in her sling (amazing). But most of all I love that you’re finally getting some bloody sleep! Enjoy every blissful moment… Xx

  2. Awesome here’s hoping she’s finally getting into a routine. And you aren’t a bad mother it just takes time and trying lots of things before eventually she clearly doesn’t give a toss what your doing and does what she needs to grow and develop and sleeps!!! Well done for making it through xx

  3. Love it, love it, love it! I have no desire to be a mother (and the lack of sleep thing is right up there as one of the reasons why) and yet I’m sitting here reading your blog. Why is that? I’m not interested in anyone else’s thoughts on motherhood, just yours. Because you write so brilliantly and you make me laugh. And you’re not afraid to show us who you really are, warts and all. Thank you, Lotte. x

    • Of course! Vertical bar is the date, horizontal bar is all the hours of the day divided into half hour chunks. Coloured in chunks show when Maya is sleeping: blue is night time sleep, orange first nap, yellow second and so on. Inside each cell there is a number: 1 indicates that the whole half-hour time segment was spent sleeping, 0.5 means she slept for half of it (ie quarter of an hour), 0 means she was awake. The numerical data allowed spreadsheet to automatically calculate the whole day’s sleep in the last cell of each day, so I could easily see whether it was a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ day, and try and manipulate naps the following day in line with this and eventually solve the riddle of baby sleep.

      As I said, PROPER CRAZY SHIT.

  4. I know your pain! My kids are nearly 3&5 and we still regularly end up co-sleeping (although no longer breastfeeding – hallelujah). It does get better though! It may not seem like it now, but they do eventually end up sleeping in their own beds more and more (well, thats what im hoping for anywya, I don’t fancy sharing my bed with teenagers!)

  5. I absolutely love this! My daughter didn’t sleep through the night and we weren’t tough enough on the baby bootcamp that is Gina Ford. It seemed like every other child in the world was sleeping and I convinced myself that all other parents were liars and a sleeping baby was a myth!

    Sleep deprivation is the worst and they should use babies to train marines! We tried reflux wedges, sounds of dolphins and my husband and I literally watched every tv programme with subtitles as we were scared that having volume on TV would wake her up!

    Crazy times and I’m still scarred by it, Kitty is now three and I will still not risk saying that she sleeps through the night, just incase……….

    • Sounds horrible! We never tried the reflux wedge but did have one end of her cot propped up on books… and white noise instead of dolphin noise. Sorry scars still run deep but at least you know now you weren’t alone..!?

      Kitty is an AWESOME name btw.

  6. Oh my gosh this brought back memories! My daughter’s sleeping wasn’t too much of a problem after about 7 months, but she seemed to spend her entire waking time from birth to about 10 months (when she suddenly and out of nowhere walked for the first time, straight into the middle of the room) screaming at me (when she wasn’t feeding or returning her feeds with a projectile vomit across the room), with an intense, accusing stare that made me feel like I was the most evil person on the planet for having brought her into the world.

    My daughter is 24 now, somehow I too managed not to actually throw her across the room and she grew up beautiful and strong. I felt like the worst mother in the world but I promise you that the reward is there in the end. Stick with it honey, it will all be great! xx

  7. Pingback: The most important piece of advice a new mama needs to hear (contains swearing) | Lotte Lane

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