Anthems for the Sleep Deprived

Bathing by lunchtimemama

One of the hottest of hot button topics for most new mums, aside from breastfeeding, is sleep. And there is so much fuss in mummy forums about getting our littlies to “sleep through”. I’ve seen so much about training them to sleep that I get the impression new mothers probably feel there *must* be something wrong with themselves or their babies if they don’t.

I recall having the impression that since my baby knew what to do in-utero, she should know what to do once born. “Sleep like a baby“, it is said. I had no idea babies needed to learn to sleep in the outside world.

I’ve been fairly fortunate that both my girls seemed to discern the difference between day and night quite early, without any effort on my part. However, it’s daytime naps that were, and still are, a struggle.

It was hard to adjust with #1 and it has been, though to a lesser degree, with #2. One of my biggest problems was not knowing what to expect, what was normal and what was acceptable, nor how long it would or could take babies to learn to sleep.

As adults, I think we forget sometimes how much we, ourselves, use crutches for sleep, whether it’s hot chocolate, our favourite pillow, music, aromatherapy etc. Yet we expect our tiny little people to be “strong” and “resilient” before their time.

A bigger part of the problem in adjusting to sleep deprivation is knowing how dysfunctional, and basically rotten, I can become without enough sleep.

I’ve always been a bit of a night owl. I stay up, even if I’m tired. As a mother of littlies, I’m always tired, yet I still stay far too often because it’s the only ‘me-time’ I tend to get. But then I suffer the consequences in the morning, adding to my sleep debt, and I know there’s no one else to blame but me.

I’m also one of those people who feel they have to jump out of bed and start the day because there’s too much ‘stuff’ to do. Sleeping in and lazing about was a rare occurrence. It goes without saying that it’s a non-occurence now!

On becoming a mother, I suddenly realised how much I missed my bed, and how luxurious sleep can be, with my soft downy pillows and doona, oh so beckoning! I realise now that I never really knew how much I loved my sleep until it was compromised.

“Don’t it always seem to go;

that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…..”

Counting Crows ft. Vanessa Carlton – Big Yellow Taxi (2002)

However, I learnt with #1, that sleep deprivation is only a stage, a phase, and I know it’s just one of many baby-led phases to come. And some days and weeks, there will be more sleep, and some others, like right now, there will be less.

So do I smile when I feel so sleep deprived that the room is spinning? Um……no.

Usually, it’s just the daylight that keeps me going. Otherwise, sleep deprivation and night time is tough. It hits like jetlag. My body just wants to shut down. But, as OK GO sings there’s something about when the morning comes. So I just grit my teeth in the knowledge that this too shall pass.

“Let it go, this too shall pass.

You know you can’t keep lettin’ it get you down.

No, you can’t keep lettin’ it get you down.

When the morning comes.”

OK Go – This Too Shall Pass (2010)

Did you know what sleep deprivation really meant before becoming a parent? Did you ride through the sleep deprived stage? Or did you feel you had to do something more deliberate to make it through? 

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I’m flogging my blog with Glowless from Where’s My Glow’s for FlogYoBlog Friday (FYBF) and playing Things I Know with Shae from Yay for Home!

  FYBF

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26 thoughts on “Anthems for the Sleep Deprived

  1. Oh goodness, I had NO idea what sleep deprivation was pre-babies! I thought I did but seriously had no idea. I still giggle at kid-less friends who constantly whinge about tiredness on Facebook. I think ‘just go to bed, you have no little people to stop you/wake you up…’ but they still whinge! Guess they’ll learn!

    I’ve had a rather interesting sleep week too and often think how much time is spent thinking about it. Then I reach for yet another coffee and the bad thoughts go away…

    • I know what you mean. ‘Sleep deprivation’ was academic until I experienced it. Nothing quite prepares you for the reality. Nothing! You’re probably onto something there; maybe we should think about it less and just get on with things. Maybe that might work. Unfortunately I’m on decaf so no medicating those thoughts away. 😉 Hmmm, but there’s chocolate, always chocolate! Thanks for dropping by my little blog!

  2. I don’t really remember how I made it through. I remember being insanely tired though and once ringing Dave at work sobbing telling him I could not do it any more. This was with Ivy and Noah, after a huge eight year break from having a baby at home. It was insane.

    • I remember calling hubby once and asking him to come home. It was tough to admit I needed the help. I guess, the fact is, we eventually get through. It’s being in it that’s hard. I just try, not always successfully, to take it a day at a time, and not expect too much of myself. Always so much easier said than done!

  3. I have been sleep deprived for nearly 6 years now – my Matilda Bear has never been a good sleeper and even now suffers from nightmares and restless sleep most nights. You learn to function on the sleep you get and I am a much faster settler now than I used to be before kids! And I savour those few nights that I get to sleep through – they are rare and precious to me!!!!

    • My toddler ws just starting to sleep through at 18 months so I had a good run for 6 months until her sister was born. If this one is anything like her sister, and she’s showing the signs, I’ll have about another year to go before I might get some solid sleep again. You do learn to function on less, but I’m not sure I’m all that productive and effective much of the time. At least I don’t suffer from insomnia to boot, touch wood! Thanks for dropping by.

  4. Hey Veronica, yes it’s so rudely true about teaching babies to sleep and also teaching mums how to survive on no sleep. I really identified with you talking about night times being peaceful and using the daylight to keep you going.

    • Case in point about quiet and late evenings – I’m replying at 11.40pm in the kitchen, multitasking with the cleaning and dishes, while the rest of the house sleeps. If I could split myself in two and one half be asleep right now as well, I would! But we keep on chugging along. Thanks for dropping by.

  5. The lines between sleep deprivation and PND have been very blurry for me. Miss A was a terrible sleeper and has just started “sleeping through” (she’s 3). I definitely think that you have hit the nail on the head with supporting mum’s to deal with the sleep deprivation, rather than just trying to get the baby/toddler to sleep before they are ready.

    • At about the three month mark with my first bub, I think the sleep deprivation was really getting to me too, as well as the entire life adjustment. I found myself getting a little anxious as the sun set each wintery evening and the darkness fell. I even felt compelled go say to hubby, “I hope I’m okay”, because my low mood was worrying me. I did ride it through fairly quickly without much further incident but the thought of PND did cross my mind. I am sure severe sleep deprivation does no favours for any mother bordering on or struggling with PND.

      I do think, with many things in life, that if we just change the way we look at the issue, maybe it would make the adjustment easier. Saying that, however, does not necessarily make it easier to do. But on sleeping though, I know I’ve well and truly given up on fighting that one. My bub will, when she’s ready. Like my toddler eventually did at 18 months. Thanks for dropping by.

  6. I’ve been doing a series of posts on Baby Holly’s sleep (or lack there of)! I have to keep reminding myself that it’s only temporary. We now have a nearly four-year-old who sleeps right through the night and has done since about the time she turned one. So I’m hoping that means it’s not long now till Baby Holly does the same!!!! 😉

    • Hi. Thanks for alerting me to your sleep challenges posts. I’ll review them tomorrow after I get some zzzz myself. Maybe I’ll find some tips there. One can only hope! My first didn’t sleep through the night till 18 months so I never expected my second to do it quickly either. She’s only 5 months but I’m going to expect the worst so I can celebrate exuberantly if she does sleep through earlier than then. Fingers crossed! Thanks for dropping by.

  7. I’m an insomniac from way back but always counted on a weekend sleep in to make me right… Can’t do that any more, Tricks is up at 6ish so I drag myself up.

    • It’s rough when you cant count on what used to work anymore, isn’t it? I had a little sleep in yesterday and kinda felt worse. Although maybe its all the lack of sleep catching up to me. Feeling pretty poorly today too. But. It. Will. Pass. Eventually. Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

  8. It funny that you right this post, I am in the process of writing one on sleep for my giveaway, – slightly different angle though.
    I found with #1 I could handle the sleep deprivation because I could nap when she did. but with #2 you couldnt, unless they napped at the same time – what are the odds of that. Now #1 doesnt have naps and I am like you and stay up way past bed time and feel it in the morning. I struggle to get out most mornings. Before I had kids – before I had hubby/boyfriend or a life I could sleep in until 10-12 and loved it. Now I’m lucky if i get past 7 before #1 is in bed with me and sometime she’ll let me lay there and drift in and out for half hour. Maybe I should start getting up earlier and get more things done for kids are up.

    • Wow – spelling mistakes in that – Lol. IT’S funny you WRITE this post. damn I really should go back to bed.

    • I was never a good napper to start with but did learn to nap when #1 slept on the odd occasion. Problem is both of mine were/are catnappers so would often wake before I got my shut-eye. I actually tried naps with #2 for about a month before aborting because I got so frustrated at being woken and her catnapping. My hubby’s also a night owl but laments at getting little done with kids waking early. I told him he’s just going to have shift his body clock cos nothing else is going to change with the kids for the time being. He begrudgingly agrees. Lol.

  9. I know something about it 🙂 I just had my baby boy three weeks ago so for the next good few years my sleep won’t be as I would like to be 🙂
    by the way – I love your pinterest boards – I started to follow them 🙂

    • Is he your first? I hope he’s a good sleeper for you. Some do sleep through early but I never had the privilege. My #1 eventually did after 18 months. My #2 never so far. She’s 5 months and has just started waking more through the night. Just when you think you’ve got it all worked out they change! Ah well. Thanks for dropping by.

  10. My first two were great sleepers but my third rewrote the rule book on it. There is nothing as brutal as sleep deprivation and I am not apologising for that statement. I really struggled for a long time with my poor baby and helping him cope with the silent reflux that dominated our lives for his first year. Like you say it does pass, but knowing you aren’t alone at times like that is so important. And so is asking for help if you aren’t coping. Very thoughtful post.

    • Sleep deprivation *is* brutal but must have been especially hard with silent reflux. Also, if I had such good sleepers first up, I wouldn’t have expected it to go so differently third time. It can wear you down emotionally. I think people sometimes forget that. Thanks for visiting.

    • I’m riding it through and hoping my bub will start settling better soon. I guess I have 18 months as the benchmark based on my toddler but I wouldn’t complain if bub does it earlier. Else I’ve 13 months to go! 🙂

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