Friday, 6 April 2012

Woman on the edge

And this is why:-

I'm tired.  Despite going to bed at the same time as The Baby each night - the only way the baby will sleep - usually between 8 and 8.30, I'm still not getting enough sleep.

We are co-sleeping with The Baby, he sleeps next to me in our bed.  We have a safety rail on the side of the bed.  The Husband sleeps on my other side.  I (sometimes) sleep (badly) between the two of them.

Usually it's ok.  I tend to shattered by early evening and so falling into bed at the time I do doesn't often bother me.  The desire to sleep distracts me from the fact that I have lost my evenings, that I have no time to myself to switch off at the end of the day. 

And of course I need to try to fit some sleep in before The Baby wakes up and wants to feed/snack before he will go back to sleep - this will happen anything between 2 and 5 times a night.  These wakings appear to form no pattern from one night to the next.  The Baby doesn't hold the notion of routine in particularly high regard.

At eight months old I realise The Baby is now most probably taking the micky a bit in his refusal to drift back to sleep without milk.  I know it is mainly my fault.  I've been lazy in 'training' him out of this habit.  Instead, choosing to have an easier life - feed him, let him drop back to sleep, so that I can try to do the same and keep the house quite so as not to disturb The Eight Year Old or The Husband.

This regular waking pattern isn't helped by the fact that we have all had colds for what must be about six months now.  One cold runs into the next into the next into the next.  It's mainly the perisistant hacking coughs that add so much our nightime disturbances.

Very occasionally, The Baby will lure me into a false sense of security.  Rather than waking up every two hours he will suddenly sleep for a five or six hour stretch. I will feel a wave of relief and will believe that he is naturally leaning to sleep better.  Thinking that we aren't going to have go through the 'pain' of sleep 'training'.  The next night, reality hits home with The Baby back to his waking every two hours and refusing to settle until he's had his fill of the white stuff.

Of course, with so much night feeding going on, a middle of the night nappy change for The Baby is also still required. The Baby will usually snooze through this twilight change which is surprising really given that he is usually such a light sleeper.

The problem I somtimes find is that I struggle to get back to sleep.  Whilst I'm awake feeding or changing The Baby, my mind floods with random thoughts along the lines of..."what will happen when I return to work in a couple of months if The Baby still refuses to drink from a bottle or cup, wanting only me for milk....with the help of our families will we be able to cover childcare or do we eed to find a nursery for The Baby...when will we be able to get the kitchen floor levelled and tiled...will the weather be awful when we go on holiday to the Norfolk Coast in a couple of weeks....what could I eat right now...what colour shall I paint the kitchen...will that lovely old tall boy cupboard fit into the bathroom....is The Eight Year Old eating enough at school at lunchtime..." and then it's difficult to switch off again.

And so it goes on.  Before I know it I've been awake for a couple of hours and The Baby is stirring again. 

Herein lies the problem.

Despite being in bed for up to 11 hours each night I probably only get around 6 hours of broken sleep each night.  And that builds up until I become over-tired,  Less patient.  Bitter.  And a little bit twisted.  I find myself being irritated with The Baby for his unreasonable demands.  I start to resent The Husband for being able to sleep through most of these wakings

And then I feel guilty.  The Baby knows no other so how can I be irritated with him?  So, I must be a bad Mum.  I often say to The Husband that I'm happy with the arrangement - me doing all this waking and feeding and changing of nappies - because I'm the one on maternity leave, so how can I justify being resentful towards him if I'm giving out mixed messaages?  And The Husband, who's a very 'hand-on' Dad, finds ways to balance things out by enabling me to have a lie-in when I need it or a lengthy soak in the bath. So,I must be a bad wife.

Of course I know that I'm not a bad Mum or a bad Wife.  If fact, I happen to think I'm really quite ok at these roles.  In fact sometimes, I'm really good at them.   But when you're in need of sleep and feeling drained from five night feeds and a baby who decides to start his day at 5am (thankfully it's usually nearer to 7am) then it's not unreasonable for me to have a the occasional frustrated outburst is it?

And then, before I know it,  I get a decent night's sleep.  I get a grip.  I feel ok again.  Sleep training?  Maybe we'll put it off a little bit longer...

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