Sleep is for the weak!

Sleep is for the weak…………or so says she composing her blog at gone 1am after just feeding her 15 month old.

Hasn’t so much of what having a new baby is all about become sleep focussed? How long is your baby sleeping? How much are you sleeping? Do you share a bed? Do they sleep well? Do they sleep in their own cot? Do they have a dummy for sleep? And the big one…….drum roll please! Are they sleeping through the night?

Well I can safely say that I do not produce sleepers – well at least not at night. My daughter and son are great daytime nappers but when it comes to night time sleep let’s just say they’re sleep challenged!

For the longest time I was sure it was something I did wrong. I really don’t subscribe to the “I am such a bad Mum” school of thought however in this instance I did find myself questioning why my cousin’s 4 week old was sleeping in 6 hour stretches and my son struggles to go 2 hours in a row, just as his sister did before him. And I’m sorry but if I hear one more person tell me that co-sleeping will solve all my problems I think I may just scream! Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of co-sleeping and have done it with both of my children but it certainly doesn’t solve night-waking in my experience and for me it doesn’t alleviate the constant tiredness that I feel! The fact that I can roll over and feed instead of hop up and walk less than 10 paces does nothing for the interrupted nature of my sleep as my son does not just latch on and suck he latches on sucks, pokes my eyes out, plays with my hair, tries to climb up me for the other side and the gets frustrated and might start to tweak my nipple with his fingers. Not relaxing for me! I must say though that when my husband gets up and brings him into our bed so I don’t have to get up I do stay far warmer and cosier! But the co-sleeping thing is tough for me as it’s just another thing that indicates I must be doing everything wrong with this sleep thing on the days when I do find myself weaken and question myself because it’s the one thing that seems to work for every other sleep deprived Mum, except me!

Controlled crying seems to be the solution to most people’s sleep issues if you listen to those in the know (is anyone REALLY in the know?) So why haven’t I left my children to cry? This may come as a shock but I have. I have left them whilst I was on the toilet, or if I was on the phone and couldn’t get off to get to them, or if I was with one child and the other woke. So when I have had no other choice. I have never however stood outside their door listening to them scream whilst watching my watch. That is something I am not comfortable with and will never do. I would not like to be left alone when I am upset and just wanting a cuddle and I refuse to believe my children are manipulating me with their cries. They are smart little cookies who have figured out that Mummy or Daddy come in when they cry but they’re not crying just to annoy me – in fact I don’t believe they do anything just to annoy me but that’s a whole other blog!

Is breastfeeding to blame for this constant waking at night? Many would have me believe that it is. Formula is often the cure for night waking as it “makes” children sleep through the night. I have actually heard that this is not always the case and many a person finds themselves at the fridge and microwave at 2, 5 and 6am whilst I simply pop out my breast! So I don’t have the “official” answer to that question however in my little experiment of 2 breastfeeding does not cause constant night waking because both of my children breastfeed and only one of them is waking every 2 hours or less! We did try to night wean my son several weeks ago. My husband took holidays and the plan was that he would get up to our boy and cuddle him back to sleep and offer him water and that after a few days he would realise that he was not going to get breast milk when he woke up so there would be no point in continuing to wake up. I’m laughing as I write this! My son obviously did not read the same manual that my husband and I did because whilst he did not have a breastfeed before 6am for that whole week neither he nor my husband slept…….at all!

So we’re back at the start. We’ve bought the t-shirts that read “sleep is for the weak” and we continue to try and convince ourselves that is true – through tired, half-shut eyes!

What could this be? –> blue

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4 responses to this post.

  1. We must be strong here too, we don’t do sleep day or night. And I wish I was as confident as you, because I have this terrible, not-so-sneaking suspicion it’s me. We don’t do controlled crying on our children either, but I have to admit that I’ve done a lot of pretty uncontrolled crying myself. But I’m the adult, so I’m just going to have to deal with it. I’ve been told it’s a sign of high intelligence, but I think they’re just trying to make me feel better.

    I’ve been wondering about the obsession with sleep and especially sleeping through, because from the little I’ve seen it’s not a natural thing for babies to do, and could even be dangerous from a SIDS perspective. Short sleep cycles and more light sleep seems to be protective because it’s in the deep sleep babies can ‘forget’ to breathe. It’s obviously about the impact on parents.

    A generation or two ago it was toilet training, and I can understand that – having to boil nappies in coppers then put them through a wringer would not be a fun addition to the household chores. Even with various forms of toilet timing you’d still have extra washing to do. Now with modern cloth nappies and disposables nappies are actually easier for parents than having little ones toilet, so a lot don’t do it till later and the competitive aspect seems to have disappeared.

    So now the big thing that makes life hard for parents is lack of sleep, and people have gone all obsessive. And because of the changes in families most new parents these days have so little experience with babies they don’t know what to expect. There’s so much media bombardment about ‘sleeping through’ that you assume that is what babies are meant to do. We’ve forgotten the savannah. And as perfectmum said, most of us don’t have the extended family to pick up the slack anymore. So in a choice between letting our babies sleep normally and getting the help and support to cope with that stage, the babies are losing.

    And so are the Mums, I remember seeing something when my first child was born that a lot of Mums who have been diagnosed with PND don’t actually have it – they have sleep deprivation! In other words, we are making ourselves very ill because we seem to think we either have to leave our babies to scream (which would be so restful!) or be strong.

    Maybe rather than competing about how unnatural our babies are (which is what it is, and remember I’m very jealous!) we should be trying to work out supports so life is easier for everyone and no-one needs to cry.

    Reply

  2. Posted by plahski on June 3, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    I could have written that! I agree with Deb also that I have a not-so-sneaking suspicion that it’s me…

    We put her into her bed, our bed, a big bed on the ground that I can lay in to get her to sleep and leave her to sleep…

    Maybe it is the inconsistency? But when it’s the middle of the night and you haven’t slept in moths all of your consistent plans just go out the window!

    Reply

    • Yes I have to say I get sick of the absolute obsession over sleep that hits all new parents from the moment their newly born child has arrived into the world. I now always preface any conversation about sleep that I may have with other parents, with a happy acknowledgement that my daughter doesn’t sleep through the night and that I have ceased to believe that she ever will! At least that makes them feel more comfortable to then confess that they too have a non-sleep-through-the-night-er! Though usually the kind of people who I seem to have such conversations with have all had babies that ‘slept through’ from the age of 4 weeks…..yeah right!

      Reply

  3. Posted by Megski on September 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    OH YES! Couldn’t agree more. The first thing people ask children is “Hows School?” and the first thing they ask mums is “How are they sleeping?”. Im so sick of feeling like Im doing something wrong because my little boy doesn’t sleep well. I’m an intelligent person, I’ve read and watched videos & been to the settling classes… I’m not doing anything wrong!!!! I think some Breastfed babies, in particular, just take a very long time to sleep well! Thanks for making me feel normal 🙂

    Reply

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