Before I start – “sleeping like a baby” is the most ridiculous phrase ever coined; it was obviously from a person that never lived with a baby! I’ve been publishing the mammy profiles for a few weeks now and there’s one thing that has come up almost every time – the hardest thing about having a newborn is usually sleep deprivation. Nothing can really prepare you for the sleep deprivation.
I thought I had it in the bag from working night shifts but the difference is that you can sleep after your night shift at work. There’s very little opportunity to sleep during the day with a baby in the house. In my post about surviving the first week with a newborn, I advise you to get sleep whenever you can and this usually means having another pair of hands to help out – if you get offers just take them. Just remember you will never ever get the type of sleep you got before you had a baby. Those days (and nights) are forever behind you! Just accept it and move on. So here’s a look at my own first 4 months trying to get some sleep with a baby in the house.
Oh my god, walking zombies all round. Baby in bed for feeds, baby in moses basket beside bed for the few minutes he would sleep between feeds, baby back in bed feeding, baby sleeping in pram during day, is he too hot, is he warm enough, checking room thermometer every few minutes, adding blanket, removing blanket, accidentally waking baby with all the faffing about, heating on, heating off. That was the general gist of it for the first couple of weeks. Then he settled into feeding every 4 hours so we got a few hours during the night and had the bright idea of taking turns doing feeds (I was still breastfeeding but was giving one bottle of expressed milk at night). So I would go to bed after feeding him around 9pm, hubby would sleep on the couch with baby in his carry cot on the other couch. He would feed him around 1am then put baby back in carry cot and he would continue sleeping on couch until around 5am when we would swap over and I would feed baby and sleep on couch while hubby got a few hours in bed. Now, we do have a spare room but it was March and we thought it was a bit cold for baby there and fire would be still warm in sitting room. Yes it was crazy stuff but you do these crazy things when you are sleep deprived.
I had stopped breastfeeding, you can read all about that journey here but I was expressing so we continued the crazy nights on the couch and little by little baby started stretching out his night feeds so some nights we got 5 or 6 hours between feeds. And even though he had his complete meltdown every evening and cried from around 8pm – 10pm no matter what we did, we could handle it as we knew he’d sleep so we thought we were the luckiest parents ever. And we were back in our own bed and he was in the cot in our room – he was just too big for the moses basket!
We had it made. Ok, the witching hours continued in the evenings and we walked him and held him and sang to him and tried to console him. BUT he was sleeping at least 6 hours in a row at night and around the 9th or 10th week he was going from 9pm until 7am every night. Yes, we were just a little bit smug. We had the elusive baby that slept through the night. Result.
Started off grand, the good times continued until around 18 weeks. Then, our sleeping baby decided sleeping wasn’t as much fun as he previously thought. In fact, he decided he wanted to party all night! So he would sleep perfectly well until 11pm (around the time we would go to bed), then the waking would start. Mostly, all it took was a soother and he would fall back to sleep but this still involved one of us getting up and giving him his soother. And when it started happening every hour or more it was back to taking turns with him. This time we used the spare room and the travel cot so every second night one of us would get a good sleep and the other would work the night shift with our little party animal. Then I found a fantastic article that explained why my baby wasn’t sleeping, and even better, that it won’t last too long – read it here and it really is well worth a read. I also found a book called The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley which I’m still reading. So far so good. With advice from the book, I made 2 big changes. The first one was his day time naps. I reduced them to 2 big ones as opposed to lots of small ones. He feeds every 3 hours during the day and has no night feeds. So now he has a big nap in the morning after his first feed for at least 2 hours, then another big nap straight after his lunch time feed for 2-3 hours. Then no nap between 4pm and 7pm. Second big change was strict bedtime at 7pm straight after his last feed and quiet time from 6pm-7pm. Quiet time is curtains drawn, tv off or down low, read him a story, if he’s due a bath we would give it at this time too. After a week of this we are starting to see results thank god. It’s a work in progress and very difficult if you are out for the day but we are trying to stick with it as best we can!
So hopefully the future is bright as far as sleeping goes! One fab blog post I read recently takes a very funny look at the sleep situation when on holidays, hopefully not a look at times to come but a great read for a few giggles – here is a link to it – Four in a Bed