I’m writing this blog as a new mum experiencing all the new mum shit…I have one big whiney, pooing and spewing baby on my hands today and I also have an infant child to look after (my partner has food poisoning)… I’m 4 months and 7 days into this motherhood business and I can honestly say it’s taken me about 4 months to say goodbye to my old life and embrace my new sleepless one.
Of all the changes that come with having a baby, not getting any sleep was definitely the killer for me. I want to clarify right away that I don’t write ‘was’ because I am finally sleeping again, I write ‘was’ because I am finally at peace with getting no sleep.
I’ve struggled with the concept of infant sleep since I brought my little man home from hospital. Everytime someone asked me how everything was going and how I’m managing I’d say ” I wish someone would of told me how much I wouldnt sleep!! “and they laugh and say “I did!” and I say “No. Someone needed to grab me, maybe strangle me and shake me a little, screaming YOU WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN”, then maybe I’d have taken them seriously.
I grossly underestimated what it would be like dealing with a baby and his (what I now know are) normal infant sleep patterns….and I grosssssssly grossly grossssly underestimated how I’d be able to cope running on very little sleep day in and day out. For four months I spent hours upon hours googling, searching through mummy forums, facebook groups and reading books about why my baby wasn’t doing what I wanted and how to get him sleeping through the night.
I asked friends, relatives and strangers and more often than not I read or was told to “‘just’ pop him down and let him cry” or try some form of controlled crying, which to me is basically cry it out with stints of teasing my baby by popping into his room, calming him, then right when he’s happy, leaving him again. I’m not here to slander that style of ‘sleep training’ though I will just say it was not for us. Not right now. Maybe some day in the future he will appreciate being popped down in his own space to put himself to sleep but for now, mummy instincts say no.
My reason for writing this random blog post is not to shit on how other mothers choose to help their babies (and themselves) sleep. My purpose is simply to help that mum who has spent all day/night crying as she searches through the internet, to know she is not alone and her baby is NORMAL. I want to raise awareness about what normal infant sleep patterns are and to bust this whole warped idea society has about how babies should and shouldn’t sleep and be put to sleep. I am not going to be providing you with a sure fire way to get your baby to sleep, instead I would like to help you question why you think your baby has to sleep through the night and/or sleep on their own without your help.
Before I go on I’d like to acknowledge how beautifully my little boy slept as a newborn…because I’m very grateful for that now that I am getting barely any sleep and he deserves some recognition for that 😂. I took this very much for granted… instead of relishing in those 2-4 hour (independent *ill touch on this another time if anyone happens to be interested*) day sleeps, I spent most of this time whinging that I had to *feed* him or *rock* him or *put dummy in his mouth* to get him to fall asleep during these times. Oh how naive I was.
Fast forward to now, 4 months and 7 days old. Our daytime routine looks like this:
– Wake up around 6am
…….then that’s fucking it. That’s as routiney as we get. He let’s me know when he’s getting tired (or more commonly, over tired) then I feed him and lay with him or feed him and hold him… Or rock him… Or put him in the pram and go for a walk… or when all else fails we get in the car.
But I do not put him down, awake in his cot. And that is OK.
I learnt pretty quickly at around 8 weeks old or so that the long independent day sleeps were over for us. Enter catnapping. I spent hours, days and weeks in tears, indoors (because god forbid I put him to sleep anywhere but a pitch dark room) trying everything under the sun to get my babe to sleep longer than 45 minutes IN HIS COT, BY HIMSELF. Everything bar crying it out (I’ve had moments of letting him cry for 5-10 minutes as I may or may not have been in tears myself) but I very quickly learnt this was not for us.
Please know I do not intend to insult anyone though I know I inevitably will so to lessen the possibility of this, IF YOU ARE A MOTHER OF A BABY WHO SLEEPS WELL (WITH WHICHEVER METHOD YOU USE) AND YOU ARE HAPPY WITH THAT THEN YOU DO NOT NEED TO READ ON ☺
If you are a sleep deprived mother sick to death of the pressure to sleep train and ‘teach’ your tiny helpless human how to self settle/ soothe than you just might share the same views as me, so read on.
I write this with the hope of spreading awareness about the reality that is sleepless babies and sleepless mothers. I am not an expert, I am just one tired mumma who on her search for like minded sleep deprived mummas was greeted with a whole lot of YOUR BABY ISN’T NORMAL, YOUR BABY SHOULD BE SLEEPING ALL NIGHT AND HOW DARE HE CATNAP IN THE DAY WHAT A NAUGHTY MANIPULATIVE BABY!
And so I’d like to share with you my new mantra. Whenever I find myself frustrated with my little wakeful babe I tell myself I AM A MOTHER. I had a choice and I decided to bring this beautiful little soul into the world and in doing so I vowed to devote myself to caring for him. Day and night. Of course this is easy to remember when we aren’t sitting up for hours after midnight while our partners are happily snoring away in the bed next to us… But nevertheless it is important to remember.
Babies. Are. Helpless.
We bring them into this scary, loud and constantly changing world knowing full well that they are solely dependant on us for EVERYTHING and this is okay, until we are talking about sleep. For some bizarre reason when it comes to sleep we are bombarded with the idea that they MUST put themselves to sleep and sleep for long periods of time as soon as we want them too or we have failed. No ifs, ands or buts.
Everything out there tells us that sleep training is imperative if we ever want our little ones to get a full nights sleep.
I’m going to say something now that will likely ruffle some feathers but hear me out… The more I think about the ‘NEED’ to sleep train the more I understand it to be of benefit to us as parents rather than the child? Don’t get angry at me! I too would love 15 minutes to myself let alone AN ENTIRE EVENING where I could pour a glass of wine, run a bath, watch a movie with my partner and laugh about how much has changed… But the reality is we are parents. Parenting is and for the rest of our lives will be a full time job.
Some parts of the job are not so glamorous but we knew this before signing up. Believe me when I say I know how hard it can be when you’re sleep deprived (and I do not blame you for wanting to seek more sleep) but little to no sleep simply comes with the territory, does it not?
Why as a society are we so eager to get our babies into routines and sleeping independently? Is it really for their sake or is it for our own? As much as I long for some me time, I have to accept my reality as a parent. And let my little guy do his thing until he’s ready to put himself to sleep. And there is nothing wrong with that… If you take anything away from this post it’s that THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO SLEEP TRAIN YOUR BABY.
I’ve spent a lot of energy actively changing my mindset about how my baby sleeps and now that I have accepted it for what it is, yes I am more sleep deprived than ever but my mental state is the healthiest it’s been since I brought him home. In accepting that I could spend weeks, months or years co-sleeping, cuddling, rocking, feeding or holding precious little hands so that my babe can fall asleep, I am now able to enjoy this time, albeit some days more than others! (awake every 1.5hrs last night left me being a little less enthusiastic about the sleepless day that followed today) but I now know that this process is normal.
So my message to you, my fellow sleep deprived mumma, your baby does not need to be sleep trained, your baby does need love and cuddles and food and all of your energy whenever he or she needs it but he or she doesn’t NEED to fit into societies new fad of miracle independent sleeping babies cause it’s just not biologically normal.
Pat yourself on the back for getting through each day and enjoy every sweet moment with your baby as I’m sure they won’t want or need our help to sleep one day and when that day comes we’ll forget how sleepless the past was but we’ll remember those precious moments rocking, cuddling and feeding them to sleep and long for those times again.
Because there is no use in me writing what’s already out there I have attached a list of awesome resources that basically sculpted this view of mine (Pinky McKay and The Milk Meg – my saviours -) and I absolutely recommend taking a peek at them.
Thank you for taking the time to read this rant of mine and I wish you all the best with your little ones. X
The Milk Meg also has an awesome book which I’d totally recommend if you are a breastfeeding mother who’s frequently told she shouldn’t breastfeed her babe to sleep tsk tsk 😂 see below:
THIS. if you read any, read this:
Another resource I forgot to add which is AWESOME and provides a completely different perspective on your baby’s sleep, that actually makes total sense (at least for me and my babe!) thanks to Dr Pamela Douglas at the Possums clinic in Brisbane Australia, google Possums clinic and check them out. You may be pleasantly surprised!! https://www.bellybelly.com.au/baby-sleep/catnapping-answer-to-better-baby-sleep/