So we’ve had a bit of a breakthrough on the old sleep front. Believe me I’m not showing off. I feel like I’m totally jinxing things by publishing this blog but I wanted to share our experience with you so if you are going through something similar, you can take heart and know that baby sleep will come. Eventually.
A tough journey
It’s been a tough journey. Right from birth, she wouldn’t sleep unless she was curled up on one of us and I breast fed every two hours until we weaned her at six months. Then it went to every four hours. Whoa result! We used to put her down in her cot but she wouldn’t stay in there very long so in the interest of everyone getting a little bit of sleep she slept in with us (the NCT website has loads of advice about how to co-sleep safely). This was fine except for the snoring, fidgeting, random blows to the face and lying horizontal across the pillows so Anthony and I were clinging onto the edges of the bed for dear life. It was especially hard when I went back to work. Needless to say, coffee was (who am I kidding – it still is) my best friend in the whole world. Tiredness is bad enough but trying to maintain an air of professionalism on three hours sleep would challenge anybody. I lost track of the amount of times people said “You’re looking well” (subtext – “you look shocking” and “oosh, glad it’s not me”).
On 2 April (the day before my birthday which I like to think was totally an early birthday present for mummy) Willow slept through the night in her own cot for the first time. We had reached a state of acceptance. Sleepless nights were how it would be for the foreseeable so when we put her down we didn’t have any expectations that that night would be ‘the night’. After 15 months, we were expecting the same routine but she was still asleep in her cot at 7:30am the next day. Over the next week or so she did this five nights out of seven and we dared to believe that our time to sleep a full night had come.
The best thing is she did it all by herself – no sleep training, no crying it out. I’m really happy that we didn’t go down any of those routes despite lots of well meaning advice from various health professionals or people telling me that I’d made a rod for my own back by feeding her to sleep (thanks for that). I never felt comfortable with those options which are considered to be ‘normal’. It’s all down to choice. If you have used these methods then I’m sure they were right for your family but please don’t feel pressured into doing something that you don’t want to do.
Can I also implore you not to read the parenting forums on your quest to get your little one to sleep. Again, they have loads of well meaning advice but every baby is different so I assure you that you will not find the magic solution you are looking for on there. (Do go on these forums if you need a good old belly laugh though because some of the conversations are outrageous and a jolly good read! The parenting community is awesome for telling it like it is with a sharp dose of humour).
Barring a few nights where she has been teething or feeling under the weather and needed comfort, she has continued to sleep in her own cot. I do miss her little hot water bottle body snuggled between us but it’s a relief to finally be getting some ‘proper’ sleep. I still have one ear on the monitor and am programmed to wake up if she coughs or murmurs but I can settle back down. I don’t think you ever quite sleep the same again anyway once you become a parent do you?
Now, just to manage your expectations, I don’t bound out of bed everyday feeling super refreshed. We have 18 months of sleep to catch up on (if we ever do at all). But I do feel much better, my head feels a little clearer and the sympathetic smiles from work colleagues are becoming less frequent.
Sleep will come, some us just have to wait a little bit longer than others that’s all.
Do you have any sleep success stories to share? Have you got any advice for sleep deprived parents? Please leave a comment so we can share our experiences.
Post script – after a few weeks of ‘sleeping through’ she has started to wake up in the night again. Sometimes she needs settling or comes into our bed with us. I thought about whether to add this but I want to be honest and not paint an unrealistic picture of actual events. It’s not every night though and she’s definitely better than she was so I’m staying positive. And reaching for a massive cup of coffee.