Friday, June 1, 2012

Motherhood: The Honest Truth About Sleep, Or Lack Thereof.

I have to admit, when I was pregnant with my first child, I was clueless.
All the mothers I knew warned me about the impending night wakings, feedings and nappy changings. It began to wear me down, hearing so many people constantly tell me how little sleep I was going to get. How I would suffer.

Well, thank you, negative nancies, I did not need to be bombarded with brutal honesty. Not in my fragile hormonal state. I ignored their advice, and instead focused on finding where I could buy Magnum Egos at 10pm at night.

I figured I would just "go with the flow", take every day as it came and learn on the job.
This was a big help but a slight disadvantage when it came to labour.
I had read of birth plans. Write one; write details of how you want every minute to be.
Well, now I know that even if I had a birth plan, it would have gone out the window in five seconds flat!
I was happier to cruise along (in agonizing pain, mind you!) and try whatever I could to ease my pain. I had no expectations of how I wanted everything to be, so if one thing didn't work, then it was simply onto the next.
I figured I would use the same easy going attitude when it came to parenting. Don't over analyze things, just deal with them as they come.
It works for me. 
It really does.

I get anxiety if I start to over think things. Now I just breathe, relax, and take things one step at a time.
After the long event that was the birth of my darling girl, I found myself ushered into a hospital bed, having only 4hrs of sleep under my belt from the last 48hrs. I was exhausted, I was in pain. I wanted to sleep.
But next to my bed, in a clear plastic tub on wheels, was my beautiful little baby girl.
My loud, hungry, and rather demanding, little baby girl.
I managed snippets of sleep over the next two days, I was lucky enough to have my room buddy (thin curtains had attempted to separate us) go home, and lucky me had only one crying baby to deal with... My own.
I was clueless. I remember as the midwife went to leave me I asked her "Wait, so what do I do now??" She replied, rather abruptly "You feed her when she is hungry, change her when she is dirty."
She didn't mention sleep.

That night I was rocking, pacing, feeding and burping my girl, but she refused to settle.
I had to lock myself away in a lounge room so I didn't disturb the entire maternity ward full of frowning faces.
Midwives came and tried their best, but she would not sleep. Finally, there was a loud noise, and a big brown stain appeared down the entire leg of her white fluffy wondersuit.
Oh, I see, you were waiting for that!
The midwife holding her pointed it out and scolded me for obviously not putting the nappy on correctly. She helped me tidy her up and left me to it by myself again.
I snuggled into my bed and fed my girl, she fell asleep, curled up in my arms, her head on my chest. Peace at last.

This was not the only night like that. Well, I did learn how to put the nappy on correctly, so there were less messes to clean up, but there was still the crying, feeding, and constant burping.
It turns out that my girl had wind, bad wind. Sometimes it would take an hour of burping, feeding, burping, just to get her to let out a big belch that had been caught up in her tummy.
This, of course, affected her sleeping.
After three days, I was released from the hospital, and sent home to do it alone.
Well, lucky for me, I was not alone.
My husband was with me at home for a few weeks to help out; I don't know how I would have coped without him.
Or without my amazing mum.
She rushed down and was so helpful, full of advice, but never scolding me for my errors, unlike those tired midwives (though I can't blame them for being a bit crabby!). She took my darling baby for long walks, cradling her and watching her sleep soundly in her arms, while I got a much needed rest at home.

I was consumed by the 24/7 job that is being a mum. I left everything else and focused my all on my girl. I took the time to enjoy her, to cuddle, to take photos every day, and to appreciate the quiet moments.
As she grew we discovered that as well as her wind problems, she had silent reflux.
Of course this too, affected her sleep.
And in turn, it affected mine.
I remember the nights of rocking, feeding, crying (me, and her!), begging her to go to sleep.
I remember bringing her into bed with me and feeding her until we both fell asleep together.
I remember the desperation when I was hearing of other babies sleeping through the night and I asked why? Why is my girl still waking?
I remember the one night when she was still very young, she slept in until 10:30am and I was so scared when I woke, I ran to her room, in a state of panic.
I remember the night, when she was 10 months old, when she first slept through.
It felt like an occasion to celebrate.

Silly me thought that that would be the end of sleeping troubles; I thought to myself "It's all smooth sailing from here!”
Oh I was wrong.
So, so wrong.
She lulled me into a false sense of security.
Sleeping through the night, and only getting better, I finally did it!
Then I fell pregnant with our little man, and the disturbances began.
Morning sickness.
Then a little girl having nightmares.
Unable to get comfortable with a fast-growing bump in front of me.

Then a bigger, but still little, girl refusing to go to bed.
"I'm not tired yet!"
Oh, yes you are missy!

In the hazy newborn days with my son she would wake once a night.
I made a deal with my husband. I will be busy with the baby; you have to deal with her.
Since he is a man, he isn't built with the "mummy gene". He grew impatient and frustrated with her when she wouldn't co-operate. I tried to help shoulder the load, as best I could.

We got through that tough newborn phase, it had its ups and downs, and my little guy had reflux but much worse than his sister. It was a messy learning experience!
He grew so fast, and the loving sister side of my big girl began to shine. 

She loved him, he loved her. I loved them more for their love for each other. I just wish they would love me that little bit more and give me some sleep!

So, what about now?
My girl, a strong-willed 3yr old, still refuses to go to bed. Why sleep when there is still so much left to do with her day?
My little man is almost 15 months old and still wakes at least once a night, but usually twice.
He is a mummy's boy and loves to cuddle. He will cry and whinge and crawl over to me just to climb up into my lap and throw his arms around me. Then he is content.
So that sleep thing I have heard of?
Well, I don't see much of it around here.
Maybe that is why my pantry is fully stocked with three kinds of espresso coffee pods, two jars of instant coffee and lots of chocolate.
A girl needs something to get through her day, right?
So many people ask me how do I do it?

I go to bed early, I drink coffee first thing in the morning, and I try to enjoy my children during the day, and remind myself every night when I am cuddling, soothing them and brushing away their tears... Some day they will be all grown up, with families of their own to cuddle...So I'm going to enjoy all the cuddles I can get now.


  1. Replies
    1. I've been wanting to write some more personal and brutally honest things on here so that is my newest challenge! :) xox

  2. Great post. I hear you loud and clear.

  3. ...and they'll still be keeping you awake, years from now. It's worth it though :)