Sleep. Five innocent-looking little letters spell out something you will never properly have again once you become a mum.
To be fair, The Womb Raider has not been that bad with sleeping at night (don’t get me started on the days) and from day one at home would have some nice long chunks of 2-3 hours between 8pm and 7 am, only waking for the obligatory feeds in the first few months and going straight back to sleep. This stretched out longer and longer as she grew, and by the time we hit about 5 months she would throw in the odd sleep-through here and there and we were down to one night feed. Of course due to a lovely thyroid disorder caused by pregnancy, I was unable to enjoy these sleep-throughs as I was busy laying awake the entire night with my resting heart rate racing at 100+ beats per minute. Yay for me. More on that some other time.
But then of course once I started to see that light peeking through at the end of the tunnel and thought the sleep-throughs would get more frequent (despite warnings and chortles from my seasoned mother-friends), the little turd decides to mix things up a bit. How you ask? TEETH. I don’t know what else to say but F*CK THAT M*#@*%F**KING S**T.
The absolute worst night of my life since we brought her home was the evening of February 23rd 2013. She woke every hour, ALL NIGHT. Nothing would get her back to sleep but boob, boob and more boob. Thank god I was still breastfeeding as I honestly think I would have killed her. After about the 4th hour of this I moved bedrooms away from The Husband, and, somehow I was able to roll over and feed her and then swap sides when she stirred an hour later. By morning I looked like I had been on a week long bender and then been dragged through a hedge to freshen up. What the hell was wrong with my baby??
Unsurprisingly I thrust her into the arms of The Husband at the first chance I got when day broke. I was chugging back a coffee when he asked me if I had felt anything sharp when feeding her last night. I answered “No, why?” and I was told she had her first tooth!
Well I guess that was an answer to my question about where my darling little night sleeper had gone. And it was about to get worse – much worse. The following night was no better, and nothing I did besides feed her would get her back to sleep. It just went on. And on. And on. I was exhausted, and the milk cannons were in need of a holiday.
I broke out the few books I thought could help me with this horror, one being Tizzy Halls “Save Our Sleep” and the other Gina Fords “The Contented Little Baby”. If the books are to be believed, you should have your newborn sleeping through the night from birth, and their behaviours will slot nicely into a 12 hour day. They will probably grow up to be some kind of child prodigy, and you will have huge boasting rights amongst your peers. If it doesn’t work (your fault, apparently it only takes three days for ANY child to get onto these routines), then you will feel like a complete and utter failure and believe your baby is defective. The Tizzy and Gina evangelists will keep shoving it down your throat every time the topic of sleep comes up in motherly discussions, and you will sink deeper and deeper into your mire of inadequacy. You will want to kill or at the very least seriously injur the mother of a child who can stick to the rigid routines. You will not let on about your murderous thoughts, you will just smile in the face of defeat. Needles to say, none of it worked for me, but I’d kept the books for future reference, and scanned the pages madly hoping for some kind of magic technique that had until now eluded me. I felt sick and confused as my search proved fruitless, the routines seemed so precise, there was no way I was going to be able to master them. The books got shoved to the back of the bookcase again….
Three weeks into this I started losing my shit, bigtime. Eventually I decided it was time to call Tresillian – a family advice hotline and also a live-in clinic for serious baby sleep issues. It’s also the number you call when you are about to murder your child. So when you’ve been up all night for a number of weeks, and you are googling the maximum sentence for infanticide – it’s time to give them a shout. I got a kind-natured woman on the other end of the phone, who patiently listened to me outlining what exactly had been going on. There were lots of sympathetic “Mmm hmmm”, “Uh huh’s” and “I see’s” from her end while I detailed every horrific night since the glory days sleeping through had ended. So I was a little disappointed I wasn’t face to face with this woman (to smack her in the mouth) when she suggested that by feeding the Womb Raider every time she howled, I had “set a precedent of expectation”. Apparently, it was a habit I had created. She also suggested having a dummy was preventing her from getting into the deepest sleep. So I’d dug my own grave there too.
WELL! You think you can rely on someone and then they just tell you it’s your own fault. This woman was clearly smoking crack and had no idea what she was on about. Even though I was angry I decided to try and wean the Raider off her dummy (which she only had for sleep times). It was a massive MASSIVE fail. Ironically it was giving her back her dummy that eventually led to the end of this cycle of horror and had us able to soothe her many wakings without having to resort to me being the human version.
It’s now been a couple of months since the appearance of those teeth and we are now back to one easy 20 min night feed. But I’m getting heart palpitations as I type this since the Raider has bulging gums yet again, signalling the imminent appearance of more pearly whites. Can we handle this again?? I do hope so…but I can assure you I have many packets of dummies, erm, I mean ‘pacifiers’ in every shape, size, colour and brand ready for battle.