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?