I loved being pregnant. I bonded with the little bean in my belly from day dot. From the day (OK, day after the shock resided) that little stick read ‘+’, I had iPad-hand-burn from obsessively researching everything from , ‘how many hours leftover food is safe for me to eat’ to ‘chiropractor approved bouncers’, you name it – if it was baby, I knew it. After reading a best-selling baby routine book cover to cover, I thought I had it down pat – I was going to be an expert mum!
Other than the overwhelming sense of responsibility, breastfeeding struggle and sleep deprivation, the first month was a breeze. Feed baby, burp baby, baby sleep, baby wake, rinse and repeat.
Then, hello week five.
Baby cry, baby not sleep, baby cry more and more and more. Baby never sleep! Days turned into weeks of endless hours of crying, mastering my rhythmic-jiggle-walk up and down the never-ending hallway, and if I were to miss a beat for just a moment, boy did he know it! The crying would worsen and I knew it was another 45 minutes before I could expect the first signs of settling again.
When my handsome bundle finally passed out of exhaustion, sitting down was not an option – nor was standing still. Yep, I had to keep on walking. Hour after hour. The exception was, of course, at 10pm after our daily five-hour crying show, I had the pleasure of being able to gently edge my way onto the lounge and ‘sleep’ sitting up, with him on my chest. For a whole hour or two before feeding time anyway…
After two months I was just a shadow of a human being. I did not eat, I did not clean, cook, sleep, leave the house, smile…
Things eventually sorted themselves out when I was accepted into a sleep school and within a week my little boy began sleeping in his cot (after hours of back-breaking hands on settling) and I began to see the beautiful smiles and bright eyes I had missed out on over those two heart-wrenching months.
Doctors blamed it on reflux, midwives claimed over-tiredness, but all I know was by the time we hit sleep school he was three months old, which is a common age unsettled babies begin to settle. Until the four-month regression anyway…
Once home I began to obsess over what I learned in sleep school. ‘The midwives say he must go to bed on time or the whole day will be ruined!’ From 3 months to 20 months old my WHOLE LIFE revolved around baby’s sleep time. If I went out, I had a one-hour window. I had to be home half an hour – no less – before nap time or he would be over-stimulated and refuse to sleep.
My friends and family thought I was crazy.
My husband and I grew frighteningly distant.
It was those horrendous first months that left me with scars and ultimately led to my time of obsessive madness.
The cure was my second son.
I learned over the time following the birth of my second-born was yes, most babies need naps at certain times, and yes, most babies won’t settle if they are over-tired. Yes, some babies need a little hands-on settling to learn to sleep in their cot, and some babies just need a little cry to wind themselves down. And yes, if some babies miss their nap-window they become over-tired, refusing to settle for the rest of the day (cue driving all day to destination unknown) …
My lesson learned and one I hope to save some other mummies from having to learn themselves is… tomorrow is a new day.
OK, so baby not sleeping well today? Overwhelmed with frustration as you were planning on cleaning that shower, preparing that roast or heaven forbid HAVING A REST in that precious nap time? Anxiety sky-rocketing as you see the entire day before you is a total write off because this morning’s nap has not gone to plan?
What is my advice to you now, in this moment?
Suck it up – accept the floor may not be mopped today or you may not get that well-deserved peaceful hour of Melbourne Housewives!
When you feel that wave of emotion, the racing heart… stop, take a breath. Look at this precious miracle you brought into this world. Think about the roof over your head and the amazing country we live in. Think about those days at work where everything went wrong and you just wanted to fall in a heap and be home already.
Think about the children dying of hunger, with no clean water to drink.
See things a little clearer now?
So stop, breathe, think of these things to help your perspective, accept your plans may not go ahead today. Just let go. Your baby WILL survive. You will survive. And the best part – you know what this means you get to do today? NOTHING!!
Lay on the floor and play with your munchkin!
Rock his sad little face in your arms until he settles if that’s what you need to do – and while he’s asleep on you – ignore the mess! Watch TV! Relax! Be calm and savour the moment because it will soon end.
So today, if baby does not sleep, if you would rather go out than be shackled to the house according to routine, just breathe, know they will be OK, and that tomorrow is a new day, next week is a new week, and before you know it, another year has faded away…
by Mama Be Real @ Bamboo Baby Co