Sleep deprivation sucks. That sums up the past nine months really. However I know you aren’t here for a three-word blog post so I’ll waffle on about how little sleep I have had in the past nine months below. That makes it sound so trivial, but it has been one of the most physically and mentally draining things I have ever had to deal with…
The number-one sentence I will never utter to a mum/dad to be is, ‘Sleep now, because you won’t when baby arrives.’ It was the single most irritating bit of advice I received and I heard it over and over again. Geez I knew I wouldn’t get much sleep, I would just nap when the baby napped right? I mean I am GOOD at napping (still am), disrupted sleep won’t be that much of a biggie.
But now I GET IT. I now get why parents say this. Yes you might have experienced the tiredness of staying out partying before a 7.30am shift as a student, but hells bells that is nothing compared to the level of tired having a child brings. Every parent will have experienced this, especially in the new born days when you wake them up every 3-4 hours to feed. However (and I might piss a few people off by saying this) but I definitely think that some babies are worse at sleeping then others, and I feel like a bloody sleep deprivation veteran after nine months with baby R.
I didn’t sleep for a full 48 hours after my waters broke. A fifteen hour labour was followed by a night in the ward where my baby wouldn’t sleep unless I was holding him. If I laid him in his plastic cot he would cry, none of the other babies on the ward were crying, so I sat up alone with him that first long, long night. Naively I envisaged going home, having a long nap and then resting and looking after the baby, feeling a lot better.
Not the case. Baby R didn’t sleep for the first two weeks unless me or D were holding him. I usually would sleep for two hours in the evening, then stay up with him all night, before maybe getting another two hours either early morning or afternoon.
When D was preparing to go back to work, me and R camped out in a separate room so D could get some sleep and I would try and lie him in his Snuzpod. I would excitedly regale D with the night’s antics every morning – ‘he slept in it for half an hour last night! and then another half hour later on!’. My nights would consist of breastfeeding, R sicking up, holding him upright for half an hour to try to keep some milk down, putting him in the Snuzpod, then snatching a few minutes sleep myself before he would wake up and we started again.
I drank a lot of tea and watched a lot of Netflix.
Around 3 am was my worst point, and I would wake D up to make me a mug of tea and a snack and beg him just to talk to me for a few minutes.
I was so scared that I would fall asleep with R in my arms that when I finally did get some sleep I would wake up convinced that he was in the bed. One night I woke up, jumped out of bed, stripped the covers off and was frantically searching for R before noticing he was asleep in the Snuzpod.
One night D woke to me banging my head against the headboard whilst nursing R, he asked me what I was doing and I said it was the only way I could stay awake. He took R then, but he would only go for two hours before needing milk again.
I don’t know how I got through the first three months. I genuinely don’t. It drove me to the point where I was crying from sheer tiredness, crying because R needed feeding and crying when he cried. Then crying because I was crying and I felt like he shouldn’t have a mummy who cried all the time. Spoiler alert: I’m crying now, it does weird things to you this motherhood lark.
It’s not just being ‘tired’, its a bone aching exhaustion, your mind feels foggy, your body has just been through an incredible ordeal and really you should be tucked up in bed resting. Instead you’ve got a baby hanging off your boob, visitors left right and centre, and all the other usual life admin to get done.
A lot of arguments between D and I didn’t help either. Being tired makes me short-tempered and it was D I took it out on. And I can be a nasty little bitch when I want to. We really struggled to communicate. We barely saw each other as I would be trying to cram some sleep in on an evening when he got home from work, and then we would be straight into witching hour with R crying and one or the other of us pacing up and down trying to calm him .
Those were awful awful times, we both said horrible things to each other, and we hurt each other. Rather than pulling us together as a family there were moments where I truly thought having a baby might break us. But it didn’t. I don’t think there was one particular moment, but we gradually learnt how to get through it together. We talk more now, and if I am worn out and grouchy I tell D rather than snapping at him.
For those of you reading this think holy bloody hell, this woman is depressing me, it does get better. R is nine months old now, we are yet to have a night where he sleeps through, but we are slowly getting there. At the moment we tend to only have a couple of wake ups throughout the night although the mornings do start between 5-6 am. The best thing is that me and D are so good right now, we have a better routine, we share the housework, and we pull together to make sure all three of us are rested and happy.
There’s still bad days, when I am so tired that I put the olives in the drawer and the clingfilm in the fridge, but we get through them – one mug of coffee at a time.
Speaking of, R is napping…time for a brew, B xx