With my first baby, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing!! I mean, I didn’t know that at the time. I thought I was doing ok but NOW I know, I actually had no idea. When she was born, she was a screamer! Like a wake up and scream the house down for 5 hours kind of screamer. We really struggled through the start because of the shock of severe sleep deprivation! We were 28 & 29 and had been together for five years. We had lived a life of sleep ins, movie marathons, long gym sessions and dining at great restaurants. Well ssshhooooottt!! Doesn’t that get knocked out of you!
She slept in our bed until she was nine months old simply because we had no idea that sleep training existed. I tried to put her in the cot. I tried a crib beside our bed but the only place she would sleep was with us. We had a queen size bed and she slept square in the middle of it – sideways! I remember at the time thinking if only we had a king size bed life would be so much better!! I’m LOL-ing at myself now!!!
I’m not sure where my head was living that we didn’t know about sleep training. I was the first of my friends and family to have a baby so I didn’t really have anyone around me who had current parenting advice. My husband was also in the Army so we moved away from my friend group 6 weeks after she was born. I’ll have to put it down to being a little isolated!
Anyway, 9 months down the track I read something about one specific method and thought I’d give it a go! Oh. Em. Gee. With a tiny bit of crying my kid miraculously started sleeping from 7pm until 7am every night. She also had solid day sleeps and the best part was that she stopped screaming at me so much! How was I to know she was just super tired all those months!
Enter kid number two a year and a bit later (and another two Army moves). This time we were pros! Although I think he was actually just programed to be an amazing sleeper in the womb! His first night earth side he slept 8 hours – and I let him! He was born 5.4kg and was 57cm long. I’m not sure if that made him more settled but he never slept less than 6 hours straight and when he did wake up he fed and went right back to sleep. Hashtag winning!
So, when I got pregnant with baby number three I was 100% calm. I mean, we were now ‘seasoned’ parenting pros! Two kids that slept 7pm to 7am. In my head, I was going to have the most amazing Maternity Leave. Lots of time for my other two kids. Coffee dates. Play dates. Shopping adventures. Life was rosy!!!!! L.O.L.
Number three was delivered by C-section (my third – another story) at 37 weeks due to very reduced movements. When she came out she was a little young. Just a little. Everything was fine health wise but you could just tell she was meant to bake that little bit longer. She slept ok in the hospital. Probably what a normal baby would do, two to three hours wake, feed and then go back to sleep. She kept on with this until she was about six weeks old……. She was a happy baby but in my head the sleeplessness was starting to get to me!
And then ….. it all fell to pieces. She’d been in the cot because I always worry about SIDS and try to follow the recommendations. But at six weeks I just couldn’t separate her from me. The only way she’d sleep day or night was if she was attached to the ‘milky pillows’. It was crazy! I’d be in the room with her for hours a day just to get her to sleep so she wasn’t crazy screaming from tiredness.
I had number 1 in school and number 2 was in child care only one day a week. You can imagine how difficult it got! I tried the sleep training techniques on her but she absolutely wouldn’t have a bar of it! I kept on trying to the point where I was bordering on full blown crazy person. At that point, I had to call in the big guns. My husband took a week off work to ‘get it sorted’!! In that week, I tried my little heart out to get her to sleep. No luck – so at that point, rather than drive myself crazy I gave up trying to fit her in to a box and just went with it.
At night, she would sleep in the bed beside me. My husband was kicked out and moved in with number two (he always thought I was silly for buying our big kids double beds with expensive mattresses but now he thanks me!) During the day, I’d have to lie down with her to get her to sleep. If I was lucky I’d be able to move for 5 mins to go to the loo or get my phone charger but mostly she just knew when I wasn’t right beside her and would absolutely crack it!!!! Along the way, we did keep trying different techniques but they never worked and to me, my sanity and her getting sleep were number 1 priority!
At around six months, I put her in the cot one day for her day time sleep and she just went peacefully to sleep. Holy smokes how did that happen!!!!???? I have no idea but whatever I got my freakin life back!!!! Well a couple of hours a day at least! So, day times are now good but nights we have never sorted!!! I haven’t slept a full night in about 2 years now. During my pregnancy, I woke up every single night without reason for a few hours stretch – she must have been prepping me! Now I wake up to her wanting to feed at least 3 – 4 times a night. It’s worse when she’s teething or not feeling great. But you know what …. I’m actually ok.
I’m ok because I don’t make a big deal about it. I just go with it. When I tried to make her do what I wanted (You know, because I wanted the perfect mat leave) it was insanely distressing. The day I decided not to fit her in to what I thought she should do was probably one of the most sensible decisions I have ever made. I have these moments where I feel truly connected to her and I know for whatever reason this is just something she needs from me. She needs this time to connect to me. I have faith that like her day time sleeps, she will just sort herself out as she grows older, with a little help from us.
So, while this thinking has worked for me and my child please know this is only my story and I am in no way (obviously) a sleep professional! I am simply sharing my story. If you are struggling with sleep (Believe me I know how bad this can feel!) there are many great people and places out there who can help take the stress away! Email us if you’d like some names!
Edit: After writing this blog a couple of weeks ago it kicked me in to gear to start working on her night sleeps again. So, the update is she is now sleeping in her cot for the first stretch! That’s a win in my eyes since I have been going to bed with her at 7pm for the last 15 months!! And it’s given me the push I needed to try and keep trying. I guess with her it’s just taken time. Time for her to grow up a little and learn to be ok to be apart!
Happy sleep to you all! I’ll meet you there in a few years (hopefully sooner now!!).
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