I am so done! You know what, I am now more than done. I am broken! Sleep deprivation is a b***h. It drains you of your ability to be you. It affects those closest to you and makes you sad. Not grumpy but sad. Constantly sad. Not just for me, but her and him too.
Sleep in our house has always been a luxury. We have two small children. 4 and 1 and we have done the sleep rollercoster like most parents for years. Each of my little ones sleep differently and we have experienced different sleep cycles with each. I’d go as far as saying I have parented both my children differently when it comes to sleep.
Tommy never wanted to sleep on me or next to me. This would distress him further. As a newborn he would feed into a boob-coma then either boob some more or be gentally transferred. I look back now and of course there was moments of distress for us all. We were new parents who didn’t know what we were doing. But we found are way and by the time he was a year he was sleeping though, most nights in his own room. I am not going to go into the ins and outs of how we got him to do this. One, because I am ashamed on the methods I used, now I know the consequences, and two, because I believe his personality needed some form of separation from me in order to sleep. Like I said he loves a cuddle, but not when he sleeps.
Emme on the other hand is now 19 months and we are living a ‘newborn’ life. Actually I would go as far as to say its worse than a newborn life. With a newborn it is expected. A period of getting-to-know each other. However, I know Emme, she knows me. Yet, we don’t sleep. She doesn’t sleep. Craig doesn’t sleep. I am typing this in tears. Its got that far. Yes, I swore I could cope. Yes, I told you its why I had children. and yes, I am crying because I don’t know what to do.
I’ve read everything and listened to others. Tried various methods and implemented all the sensory techniques. Yet she still only wants me. Constantly, endlessly, Me. Its like that feeling when you need something more than you need anything else, and you’ll scream blue murder until you get it. Its like that. Endlessly. I LOVE BEING NEEDED, but I am broken. and when your broken, your hurting, and when your hurting, you know your done.
All I need is a full nights sleep, then I know I will be back to got-my-sh** together Mummy-mode. But in order to do that she will have to suffer. It comes down to two choices. Her or me. I choose her! But others would say it has to be ‘me’. I am sure you know though, as a Mummy, I’ll always choose them. Their needs are stronger and more important than mine right now, in this second. I can wait to get a hot drink. I can wait to read a magazine and … I can wait to sleep. They cannot.
Being a Mummy as you know is filled with information. Information from EVERYONE. Professionals, friends, family, books, magazines, even social media reminds me of the expectations of sleep. One of these professionals suggests that as a society we are too hung up on our westernised sleep expectations. Focusing solely from day one on that ideal perfect nights sleep. You know the one, where you go to bed and wake when you decide. Yet she argues that this isn’t the case for the rest of the world. There are cultures out there that don’t have a differentiation between night and day, others that sleep only when needed and others that only power nap. So many alternatives to our way of sleeping. Therefore, showing us how influenced we are from the society we live in, the way we have been brought up and the ‘normal’ we percive. I was there four years ago. Parenting Tommy the way I thought I should, unaware of this information. Who knows if I would have done it differently, it worked thats all I can say, but it isn’t right for Emme and I need an alternative approach and fast!
As I scroll through websites, looking for answers I see hundreds of other parents equally distressed and at breaking point. Desperately searching for the solution. Something that will help, right this very minute. I read thousands of professionals responses, all seemingly to undermine the information before. Leaving my brain a pile of mush and further exhausted. I felt like one of those crazy mind maps, yet my mind isn’t joining them together and is unable to verbally expel a solution. If so many other parents are searching for sleep help, why isn’t there more prominence on supporting parents instead of forcing babies to sleep. Which I know is desired, but not instantly achievable for some.
Obviously I know thats the end goal and that its a catch twenty two. But if your under no illusion that you baby isn’t going to sleep any time soon, why don’t we provide more support for those experiencing the throws of sleep deprivation. I mean I know this will sound crazy, and I am mearly throwing this out there, but hands up if someone should invent a sleep spa! Where babies are held close by and you sleep. I don’t mean a whole night, two hours would be good. Maybe twice a day. I am joking of course and I laugh at this crazy suggestion. Would I actually leave my baby so I could sleep? I shake my head, this attachment parenting is intense, but I know I do it for her because I know this is how I want to parent. Its what I was made to do. I blame these crazy ideas on the lack of sleep. You have to laugh. Its the only way through.
We all parent differently. We all relate to sleep differently, which I suppose is why I find it so draining. I was told today by an elderly relative. ” Well ‘so-and-so’ is so well behaved, he drinks one bottle before bed then sleeps through”, I pretend to shot myself in the head sarcastically… ” he’s being doing it for months now, you SHOULD’NT LET HER WIN”. That right there is why I am typing this, to give a voice to someone else when your being told repetitively that what your doing is wrong. That you did it wrong. Even if its not intended to sound as a criticism. It will be taken as one and when your surviving on no sleep, everything is a criticism. Everything hurts.. even if all they are tying to do is help. So I started to type… everything I was thinking… in the hope it supports someone else in the same boat. In the hope that it explains its ok to parent your way. Have a voice, speak up and do whats right for you and your little one, at that moment. Even if ‘society’ does it differently and most importantly its ok to say your done and you need help or a solution and fast.
Finally, I want to conclude by telling you how I’ve survived the past few days, what I’ve decide and how I am digging myself out of my melancholy hole. It isn’t a solution. I am sorry, but for me there isn’t one. I really mean that sorry too. Its the unknown length of sleeplessness thats the hardest, I know. I know you need a solution. Maybe you’ll find one that works for you, but don’t be disheartened if you don’t. This parenting lark is trial and error isn’t it. Take baby steps forward, don’t be afraid to step back. Hug yourself daily and let others hug you. Do what you need to do, and don’t be afraid to listen to what feels right.
Therefore, for me I found my voice and started to learn to blank out the information not relevant. I put down the parenting books. Smiled politely when told somebody can do it better, and drank a shed load of tea! Secondly, I decided to do what my baby needed. She needs me. The whole night, most nights. For comfort and feeds. Its something I am trying to accept and deal with. This level of being needed is intense. You’ll know. For now I have moved a bed into her room and were sleeping. Ok, its not perfect… well get there one day, right? But it works, and I am hoping in time I’ll sleep deeper and she sleeps deeper when we do.
Remember do what works for you, sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards and most importantly remember to breath.