The Night Shift

5 January 2018

The moon glistens away in the dark night sky shining over the river that is slowly swishing and swaying whilst owls in a distance are hooting, singing the night away. In a neighbourhood just a few miles away is a home that is just about to wake up for the fifth time in just two hours.

'Please don't wake up, please don't wake up, please don't wake up' an exhausted mother chants to herself whilst very slowly turning in her bed trying her best to not make even the slightest of sounds. Letting out a sigh of relief, she is finally able to close her eyes and go to sleep snuggled under her warm cosy duvet.

'WAAHHHHH!'

Off shoots the mother out of the bed again to her baby's aid.

Welcome to my second musing of the year - The Night Shift; an honest account of a very sleep deprived yet weirdly optimistic mother.

Firstly, I’d like to replace the owls hooting away with the freaky fox shrieking what seems like right outside our bedroom window (I’m too scared to open the blinds and see) whenever there is a moment of peace in this bedroom at night, when I am able to finally let out a sigh of relief - the fox starts screaming! Anyone else with a fox issue?

I knew that having a baby meant less sleep for a while but I kept reading and was told that it’s the newborn stage which is difficult, as they grow older it gets better... lies! The newborn stage was bliss compared to now at nearly a year old, although back then due to Little A’s jaundice I had to keep waking her up for feeds otherwise she would have slept through the nights if there wasn’t any other issue. Even after the jaundice had gone she’d awake every three hours for a feed which was just perfect. 

I had no idea that there were such things as sleep regressions, separation anxiety or mental leaps that babies go through in the first year and beyond so it really hit us hard when we were in the middle of it all. We didn’t notice the four month regression which some parents claim to be a nightmare - I guess that was our lucky escape. However, the leaps especially leap five and starting solids (I’m glad I waited till 6 months as her sleep worsened when she started solids) incredibly changed our lives.

For those who don’t know what leaps are, I’ll try and explain in as simple words as possible. A mental leap is calculated from due date not birth date as conception is taken into consideration - it is a major brain development, in total babies go through 10 leaps from weeks 5 to about 75 of their lives in which they master new skills, maybe crawling, picking up and throwing things to being able to differentiate between a black and white cow and a cat (so random, I know) or putting things in order, these are just a few examples and one thing that is really effected is sleep as going through these leaps, in reality, is quite scary for them.

Here is a chart that I found on Pinterest that gives a good explanation.

Bearing this in mind, it does make sense that as a baby grows their sleep would get worse as the leaps become more aggressive in nature so whoever said that the newborn stage is the most difficult and it gets better, what were you thinking?! 

So Little A drifts off to sleep around 7:30pm and I just sit and wish we get a long stretch in the first half at least because once she unsettles for the first time, there is no way we will get a long stretch thereafter. We’ve had nights when it’s been 2 hourly or hourly even half hourly! When the leap would end, there wouldn’t be a difference because then we’d be teething hence more disturbed nights which happens to be the main culprit,  I’m not going to go into detail because then I’d be here forever (don’t worry there will be a dedicated post on just this topic I can assure you!). 

It got to a point where I thought I was going to go crazy because I just couldn't figure out what to do, she wouldn't be hungry, she had a fresh nappy on, she wasn't cold nor hot, I started to feel like a complete failure. I remember a night when she fell asleep after being unsettled and I just sat there silently crying because I couldn’t get to sleep! And then when I finally did.. the cycle began again. I started tracking her sleep using apps, at first that was okay until we started to have numerous disturbances, imagine pressing start and stop every half an hour to an hour - crazy, I know. Then one night I forgot about it and the next morning it said 'Little A slept for 11 hours' it was as if though the app was mocking me so it was time to delete it and honestly I feel so much better and in control ever since I've stopped obsessing over her sleep.

The husband and I now do shifts, he goes to sleep at midnight anyways so till then if she unsettles he takes care of her plus I know she doesn’t wake from hunger before 1am. After midnight it’s my turn but the thing is even when the husband is taking care of things, I still can’t sleep (kind of defeats the purpose of shifts, I know) as we are in the same room. My health visitor suggested that it is time to move Little A into her own room as I might be disturbing her, well, the husband's already on the sofa so shall I sleep in the hallway now? We live in a one bedroom flat so moving her into her own bedroom is not an option and quite frankly speaking even if I had ten extra bedrooms I wouldn't move her as I am not ready for such a big change.

It really did upset me though when there wouldn’t be an explanation to her waking up, (well I would be lying if I said she woke up because she doesn't wake up completely, just cries in her sleep) even after the leaps until Little A proved that she can sleep! We have had odd nights where she has had 7 or 8 hour stretches in the first half then it goes downhill but still such an improvement. I now know that she only wakes up because she is troubled otherwise she wouldn’t. 

I’ve been told to cut out her night feed and give her water instead to break the habit but I won’t because whenever I’ve offered her a feed at night and she’s not hungry, she rejects it and when she is actually hungry she actively drinks, so the wakings are not out of habit for her. 
Another debate that normally goes on in Mummy groups is that formula fed babies sleep better, well I have experience of both - Little A is combined fed due to a few reasons (another story for another day) and her last feed has always been formula and let me tell you - no difference! 

I know mums who full time formula feed their babies but their little ones are horrendous at sleep, I know mums who exclusively breastfeed and their babies sleep through the night and the other way round! There is no right equation to this no matter how much you try to convince yourself that making such and such change will make a difference.


I have had weeks where I've been surviving on just 2 hours of sleep in 24 hours but am still weirdly happy and active during the day (but I don't know any different though do I?) probably because I know that this too shall pass as she use to the worst at her naps and now she is has two good naps a day.

Despite all of this, I keep reminding myself that we have actually overcome a huge hurdle already which most parents fight and stress over for many months. Self settling at bedtime, not having a sleep association e.g feeding or being rocked to sleep because experts say that the way babies go to sleep dictates their night so if a baby goes to sleep by his or herself then when he or she will be entering the next phase of their sleep, they'll continue sleep as they don't expect to be a part of that association - well, Little A has been going down in her cot aware and goes to sleep by herself since she was three months old (did this herself, no training) then why doesn't she sleep well?



I honestly think that I gave birth to Little A only for her to prove the experts wrong as there are so many other things that she does which go onto prove these experts and their theories wrong. Personally, I think parents should do whatever gives them and their baby more sleep, so if you know that feeding to sleep when your child unsettles at night will mean more sleep for you and you are happy with it then just keep calm and carry on!

Even though, nowadays the second half of the night is mostly consisted of cuddles and a bad back for me, I'm okay. Why? Because not long till I'd want cuddles with her and she won't, after all, she's growing up. Although, I sometimes end up cranky and moody, I'll just enjoy these moments whilst they last seeing that I am so blessed to having been actually given this opportunity to take care of my child.








12 comments

  1. I still feed my daughter to sleep most nights and she'll be 3 next month! It will get easier, just keep swimming! <3 #blogcrush

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    1. That’s reassuring to know, it is natural. I’m happy to continue with feeds because she needs it if she didn’t she wouldn’t take it it. Thanks for stopping by x

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  2. Not going to lie, I really miss the night shift. My boy will be 4 next Friday and I want to go back to the night feeds and cuddles! Such a great post to read to bring back some nostalgia.

    Jordanne || Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk

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    1. Aw! Yeah I can imagine. She’s nearly 11 months old and so independent already so as hard as it might get just want to cherish these moments as much as possible. Thanks for stopping by! x

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  3. What an amazing read, it's so great to hear such honest words about parenting. I'm a step mother and I can agree it's not always the easiest!

    Alys / alysgeorge.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honesty is the best policy no matter how difficult it can be! Thanks for stopping by x

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  4. Just remember you are doing a fantastic job! I am a mum of 2 and honestly it does get better ... eventually. My daughter is almost 3 and still doesn't sleep through the night however she kind of just lies next to us playing with her teddies.
    You got this mamma!

    Heather xox || http://www.xhighlandbeauty.co.uk

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    1. Aw, that means a lot to me. Always good to hear that I’m doing a good job once in a while. Thank you for stopping by x

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  5. I had no idea about leaps. I didn't even know what they were and that they even happened. It is great to read posts about parenting and learn more! xx corinne

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    1. I didn’t either until I read saw someone else mention it! It’s amazing how we can learn something new everyday. Thanks for stopping by x

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  6. Oh gosh, I'm sorry that I can't relate to this post at ALL - not being a parent, not planning on being a parent for a bloody long time and actually being PETRIFIED of being pregnant. This all sounds so in-dept and although I didn't know about these mental leaps, I remember learning about something similar in psychology in college which was interesting!

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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    Replies
    1. Even though you couldnt relate you carried on reading that means a lot to me, thank you for stopping by x

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