Baby sleep: the truth

Baby sleep: the truth

I don’t know about you, but I have a baby that thinks sleep is overrated.  I thought I had it made when Oliver slept through the night at about 9 weeks old, little did I know that he was just luring me into a false sense of security, only to get to 4 months and we were back to waking at night.  It wasn’t too bad because he was only waking once at about 2-3am, then sleeping until 6-7am and all he did was feed and go back to sleep.  We got into a good routine of his sleeping/waking times and then these past couple of weeks he’s suddenly decided he wants to wake up every 2 hours.  I feel like I have a newborn baby again, I’ve felt so exhausted.  I have always loved sleep. Pre-baby I was often found asleep still at lunch time, getting a good 12 or 13 hours in. The 2 hourly waking has been killing me. Especially now because he doesn’t sleep in in the morning as he used to, I used to be able to catch up on a bit of sleep because he slept until 10-10.30am. Now he’s awake at 8am and wants to play!  On Wednesday night we had our worst night, Oliver was waking every 1 or 2 hours, and he was crying everytime I put him back in his cot.  He woke Stu up, which is very unusual, he could sleep through a thunderstorm and not even slightly stir. At 4am he decided it was a good time to wake up, he didn’t want feeding, which usually would send him back to sleep, all he wanted was to wriggle around his cot, roll around his tummy and make noise.  It took him an hour to settle down and have a feed. I tried everything to help him fall asleep. Every time he started to drift off he woke himself up again within a minute.  It was the first night I had felt physically and mentally exhausted and actually a little annoyed at Oliver for interrupting my sleep! (I felt awful for this, but I could barely keep my eyes open).  

People say ‘just ignore them, they’ll soon learn’ but I for one can’t do that!  If he wakes, I wake, he’s not quiet when he wakes up. If he’s not chatting away, he’s running his arms or legs along the bars or hitting his mobile base.  Sleep training definitely isn’t for me, I could never do it, to me it just feels like you would be neglecting your baby and their needs. The ‘cry it out’ method just seems cruel.  Babies cry because they want comfort, not to manipulate you.  They’re hungry or just want a snuggle, and I could never deny Oliver a snuggle.  If he’s having a particularly unsettled night then he often sleeps in with us.  It usually means I am super uncomfortable, wedged in the middle of the bed whilst he lies spread eagle where I usually go.  If we had the room I would definitely be investing in a bigger bed, but with the cot next to our bed, there isn’t any space.  I know people will say I’m creating a rod for my own back but I would rather have a happy baby, and if this is what keeps him happy then I will continue to do it.  

Nap times are a nightmare in our house, most naps Oliver resists to the point that he gets himself in a state.  He’s fine going to sleep in the morning when we are upstairs and I’m trying to get ready, but as soon as we leave the bedroom he just won’t sleep!  I spent half my days last week lying down next to him pretending to be asleep, trying to encourage him to do the same, only to find myself being prodded and poked by him, thinking it was a hilarious game.  He will never fall asleep in my arms, (although I popped into see the girls at work last week and he hadn’t napped for about 4 hours and he fell asleep on my hip!) but as soon as Stu gets home from work, Oliver will nap in his arms!  So when I’m alone I have to put him down, usually in his PoddlePod, on the floor or in his cot, depending on what I’m doing at the time.  He’s just starting to outgrow his PoddlePod and can push himself off and roll out of it now, so I think we are coming to the end of using it, which is why I’ve started to just put a blanket on the floor for him to lie on.  I miss the good old days when I used to feed him and he would fall asleep on me and I would just have to sit there for a good half hour or more, super uncomfortable, waiting for him to wake up (who knew I would ever wish that!). He usually only take’s 3 naps through the day ranging for 10-45 minutes long.  I hate it when I read about people who’s babies nap for 1-2 hours at a time, I think of all the things you could do in that time!  By the time I’ve decided he’s actually asleep and have managed to eat something and done some washing up he’s awake again!  My ironing pile grows and grows because by the time he’s asleep enough to not be woken by the clunking of the ironing board, I manage to iron about 5 things and he’s woken up! 

Everyone says once babies have started weaning they’ll sleep better. All I can say is, I will believe it when I see it!  I think I will just have to welcome the next few months/years of sleepless nights with open arms, because the truth is sleep is massively overrated!

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