Recently, I have become obsessed about sleep. Or the lack of sleep as the case may be. I think that 7 months of continued sleep deprivation is getting to me, I’m beyond tired and I’m finally starting to crack.
Most days I am okay – but every now and again we go through a rough patch and I turn into a walking zombie with unbrushed hair and bags under my eyes. We’ve just gone through a patch like that – Ziggys been sick and he’s been waking up 5 – 7 times a night. Some nights, the longest he has slept all night has been 90 minutes. He wakes up, cries, feeds and then drifts back into a restless slumber, only to wake, in less than an hour to do it all again.
My back aches from lying on my side constantly boobing him, as without a boob in his mouth, he’s not happy. We’ve tried to not boob him, it doesn’t work, he just cries. We’ve tried to give him a dummy instead of a nipple, it doesn’t work, he just cries. We’ve tired to turn on his rain sounds and start bum patting him as soon as he begins to stir, yeah, that doesn’t work either. All that works is breastfeeding him back to sleep. And because I am the only one in our relationship with breasts, that’s my job. And there are nights I struggle with that.
AJ knows. And he feels bad that there is not more he can do – because there is nothing more that he can do that he is not already doing. And I know this, but sometimes my sleep deprived brain struggles with the fact that he gets to roll over and go back to sleep, while I have this unsettled grizzling baby to try and soothe. I am lucky our relationship is as strong as it is, because there are nights we both struggle. Nights I look at him sleeping and I want to trade places. Nights I wish I could just roll over and go back to sleep too.
My cracks are showing in other ways too.
Yesterday we were heading a friends baby shower. As we left the house AJ asked me where it was. At her house babe – duh, I replied. Yes, but where is her house? Oh shit. Where is her house? I checked the Facebook event, the location was listed as ‘Hamilton’. I tried to call her – no answer. I messaged the page – no answer. We started driving anyway, in a central direction, hoping it was the right direction as I texed and called everyone in our phones that I could think of that would possibly know the address of the babyshower.
Eventually, we got a response and the address was messaged through. I Google maps’d it. As I gave directions to AJ, I realised the location and street name looked familiar. Oh god, Ziggy and I had been there for a visit only a month or two ago. Face palm. I started to laugh at myself and my laughter turned slightly maniacal. AJ looked at me like I was crazy – ‘babe’ he said ‘that’s a lot of laughter for something that’s not really all that funny’. I lost it again. I laughed until my guts hurt. I had come to the realisation that I’d finally lost the plot.
A few days ago I was cooking in the kitchen, Ziggy came crawling in, and beelined for the pantry. The door doesn’t close properly and we store the plastic bags in there, so I was keeping a close eye on him, making sure he didn’t get into any mischief. He bypassed the pantry door, hit his head on the oven and started to cry. I just looked at him. AJ came in, scooped him up and looked at me. ‘Babe the ovens on’ he said. Oh, oh crap yes it was. It wasn’t hot, and he hadn’t hurt himself, but I was so focused on the pantry and the plastic bags, I hadn’t even registered he was crawling by the oven. I felt like the shittiest mum ever.
I have ‘mum envy’. I see comments on Facebook from other mums about their babies wonderful sleeping habits and I want to cry and yell at them. Just before daylight savings kicked in, one mum asked for help getting her baby to adjust to the new bedtime. She advised us all that her little one slept from 7pm until 7am, without waking, and she needed help now that the clocks were changing. She needed bloody help? I wanted to yell at her. I wanted to reach through the screen, grab her by the shoulders and yell – at least your baby bloody sleeps! I felt like she was rubbing it in. How horrible is that. I am a horrible person. I didn’t say anything of course, just kept scrolling, but it upset me more than it should have. More than it would have if I was sleeping for longer than 2 hour bursts each night.
I’ve been told it’s sleep regression. Ha! I have come to the conclusion that the term ‘sleep regression’ is a fancy way of saying ‘we have no bloody clue why your child is not sleeping but we’ve made up a term for it to pretend we know what we’re talking about’. Because every month is sleep regression. 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 7 months. This kid has been in sleep regression since he was born. Except for that one time he slept for 8 hour straight. Back when he was 2 months old.
Sometimes we catch a break. Two nights ago, our lovely child slept from 10pm – 3am. For the other sleep deprived mamas too bloody tired to count it out on their fingers, that’s 5 hours. Five whole wonderful hours. It is the first time since December 2015 that he has slept that long in one go. I woke up at 3am confused, I didn’t feel exhausted, then I looked at my phone, realised the time and it hit me that I had just slept the longest I’ve slept all year.
Instead of being over-the-moon joyful that this had happened, I started to obsess. The first thing I tried to work out was, what did we do differently? What song did I sing before sleep? Did I rock him a different way? Did we alter the pattern of his bum pats? Did we add 3 drops of lavender oil to his bathwater instead of 2? How do we replicate this in the nights to come? What did we do!
The answer of course is nothing, we did absolutely nothing differently that night from any other night. It was, as all his longish sleeps seem to be, a fluke that was not repeated the following night.
I feel like I have become ‘that’ mum. The one that talks about nothing but how much sleep she isn’t getting. I must be a very boring person to be around at the moment. Sometimes I just stop mid conversation because my brain has forgotten what it was doing and I’ve totally lost my train of thought. I’ve done that a few times while writing this blog. I have to go back and re-read what I’ve typed to get back on track, so I apologise if it seems a bit disjointed and all over the place, that’s me right now.
I’ve had people tell me that I have no right to complain that I am tired. That we’ve chosen this style of parenting and we have to deal with it. I’ve had other people tell me that it’s my fault for being all ‘hippy’ and refusing to let him cry it out. That we’ve created a monster by going to him when he cries. That we need to set boundaries and teach him that he can’t always get his own way. I hate hearing this. It makes me feel stink. It makes me doubt my parenting tactics. Have I bought this on myself? Have I ruined my childs ability to sleep? But if the choice I have to make is leaving Ziggy to cry alone in a room by himself, or deal with irregular sleep patterns, I’m taking one for the team and I’m staying tired. Still, that does’t give people the right to tell me I am not allowed to say I am tired. I’m bloody tired.
There are a few things that keep me going. One is Ziggy himself. When this kid decides to wake up for the final time each morning, he wakes up happy. Ridiculously happy. He opens his eyes, no crying, no grizzling and he looks at me and he beams the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. He then looks over at his dad, who also gets a huge grin. Then he rolls over, and crawls to me for a smooch. It is the best way to start the day. It erases all the shitty memories from the night and our hearts just burst with love. I’m sure he does it on purpose.
The other thing is knowing I’m in good company. I know, when I’m up at 11pm feeding, at 2am, at 3am, at 5am, that while it may feel lonely, I am not alone. There are so many other mums who are also awake and feeding their little ones. I know this because I’ve found my village. I’ve found my groups of mums who do things the same way – who sleep with their babies, or near their babies. Who wake up a dozen times a night with their babies. We hold each other up and remind each other that it’s okay, one day things will get better, but for now we just need to do the best we can.
So that’s what we’re doing. We’re doing the best we can. Some days the best I can is getting out of bed, showering and having breakfast. Other days I’m a machine and I cook, clean, preserve, go visiting, exercise and take out the rubbish. And some days I drink too much coffee and eat way too much chocolate.
We’ll be alright, AJ, Ziggy and I, for the nights are long but the years are short. I just needed to vent. Hopefully there’s another mum out there whose baby is also not sleeping who reads this and thinks – hey, maybe I’m not alone, maybe I’m not the only one going crazy. Cause you’re not – alone that is. But you are crazy – as all the good people are.