Sleep: In Search of the Mythical Creature

Today I feel shattered. I haven’t just scraped the bottom of the “energy reserve” barrel, I’ve cracked it open and tried to suck out the last remnants of life. Part of it is the baby alarm clock at 3a.m. this morning, followed by 4 hours of chatting, crying and wriggling, until I gave in and acknowledged that it was an acceptable time to get out of bed. But that is only part of it. The majority of my sense of exhaustion is the build up of sub-optimal sleep patterns for the last 5 months. Having had such a flat day, it lifted my spirits to receive the following card from my friend (text in pink added by my own enthusiastic self):

Can I Please??
I am somewhat obsessed with unicorns at the moment. When I analyse this new development in my life, I wonder if the obsession is symbolic of my craving for a night of uninterrupted sleep. I wonder if sleep, in my current reality, is as unreal as morphing into a lovely, happy, sparkly unicorn.

Since A was born, I have been obsessively reading baby books and forums and chatting to friends, trying to rationalise A’s sleeping patterns (or lack thereof)…

6-8 weeks – baby is still understanding the difference between day and night. You can’t expect your baby to sleep through the night love, until their circadian rhythm kicks in.

After 8 weeks things were only slightly better, with multiple wake ups during the night. This is when I find out about the concept of the “Fourth Trimester”: Baby is still trying to get to grips with the harsh reality of being outside of the womb. Reflux and wind torment your little ones at night so you can’t expect them to sleep sweetly in the first 3 months.

So I hung on grimly until the 3 month milestone, every night dreading the moment I went to bed, but secretly hoping this would be the night when A would achieve the Holy Grail of “sleeping through”. After 3 months, I was horrified to overhear a conversation about “4 month sleep regression”. Surely something has to Progress to Regress?? 4 month regression is apparently due to the change in your baby’s sleep patterns. I can’t claim to be a specialist, but there is a really good Blog post about it on the Wee Bee Dreaming website here.

Now that A is 5 and a half months old, sleep regression has developed into “teething”. It feels like the quest for a few hours (5 would do) of uninterrupted sleep is as ridiculous as going in search for a unicorn. I think it is time for me to do two things:

Firstly, adjust my expectations of what is realistic behaviour from a 5 month baby and secondly stop asking EVERY parent I meet how their baby is sleeping. Let’s face it, no one appreciates that question and I seldom appreciate the answer!

If, like me, you want to strangle those smug parents whose babies sleep calmly from 7 until 7, here are some further reading materials that have made me feel like I am doing something proactive about reclaiming sleep (please note, I have not yet discovered the silver bullet – like the unicorn, I don’t think it exists):


5 thoughts on “Sleep: In Search of the Mythical Creature

  1. Oh yes, babies and sleep! Who ever coined that dumb phrase ‘sleep like a baby’ clearly never had any. I found ‘Nighttime Parenting’ by William Sears helpful, in fact all his books are practical and level headed IMO. However, the best remedy for lost sleep, I hate to say it, is time – your baby need to grow up! I think it’s the same for all the biggest challenges of life that pertain to loss, it just takes time,

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    1. It’s a terrible conflict wishing for time to pass but knowing that as it does, time for baby cuddles passes too. I guess all the cuddles are a form of compensation for the sleepless nights. Thanks for the book suggestion, I will give it a go.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Grandparenting now, and yes, you will survive. And sleep. You truly hit a key point about expectations, however, including on yourself. Every child is different, regardless of milestones and studies. Carefully not to read too much. And as cute as unicorns may be, they’re really not so practical in the long run….

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    1. Being a mum is definitely the most difficult job I have had – so much pressure put on ourselves to do everything “right”! I guess sometimes it’s just about letting go of control. I hear that the best mums get promoted to grandma’s so you obviously did it right! You are right about the unicorn – where would I keep it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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