AFTER wasting the best part of two and a half years trying sleep techniques, following advice and reading all the Get Your Baby To Sleep If You Can Stay Awake Long Enough To Read Another Boring Book on Getting Babies To Sleep books, I HAVE HAD ENOUGH.
I have thrown away all the books, unsubscribed from mumswhoknoweverythingaboutbabies.com and I have come to accept that my baby, like her sister before her, will continue to wake me up A LOT during the night until, well, she just doesn’t.
The thing is, my babies don’t just wake up a few times for a feed or a nappy change. My babies are highly adept in the art of wakefulness. They laugh in the face of sleep training, spit in the eye of Gina Ford and would drive Supernanny to throw herself off the naughty step.
So these days I use a little technique I came up with myself called Get Your Baby To Go The F*** to Sleep By Whatever Means Necessary.
This is basically how it works:
IT is 4am and I am in bed. Awake. Again.
The Baby has woken up at regular intervals since I put her to bed at 7.30pm.
So by 4am I am seriously pissed off.
For God’s sake, what is her problem now? I whisper angrily as I head to the sleep thief’s cot once again.
I pick her up and (of course) she immediately stops crying. I sway her from side to side a bit but no lullaby. Not at 4am. She is not getting a frigging lullaby at 4am.
I can feel her eyes looking up at me. Do not make eye contact, I tell myself. Do NOT speak to her. Do NOT engage with her in any way. Any interaction will only encourage her to stay awake ALL night.
She blows raspberries, I don’t even blink. She grabs my hair. I do not move. She gurgles something and quite deliberately makes it sound a bit like Mummy, but I SHOW NO WEAKNESS.
Finally, her eyes close, her breathing becomes slow and heavy and her ‘limbs are limp’, so (according to Dr Sears), IT IS TIME.
I creep over to the cot and prepare for the nerve-wracking transfer. I hold my breath and slowly, slowly lower her over the bars.
So far, so good. I lie her down. Still asleep. I put her blankets on. Still asleep. I tip toe back to my bed, slide under the covers and close my eyes. The pearly gates of dreamland are just within my reach…
A TORTUROUS SCREAM pierces the comfortable silence of the night and snatches me from slumber once again.
Right, that is it. I have had enough of this EVERY night. I am NOT getting up again. NO more Mrs Nice Mummy. I am going to stay right here and close my eyes.
Bring it on baby. I am done. I put the pillow over my head in an attempt to block out the screams. I am going to sleep.
The screams are louder now but I don’t care. I am staying in bed.
Her screaming has now woken Husband James and the Toddler but I am still NOT getting out of bed.
WAHHHHHHHHH. WAHHHHHH. WAHHHH.
Ok I am getting out of bed.
And I am back at Square One. Holding a baby in the darkness. Rocking, shushing, and praying for the strength to make it through tomorrow after another sleepless night.
She is still awake.
I play the white noise app on my phone. Music box? Ocean waves?
I ask her really nicely to go to sleep. I bribe her. I beg her.
I lie her down in the cot and activate the lullaby machine in the vague hope that tonight WILL be the night she will be ‘soothed gently into a deep sleep’. She immediately screams. I leave her for a minute – waiting for the (five star rated at Amazon) dream machine to do its work. It doesn’t. She screams some more so I get her out.
Still awake and now in a very bad mood.
I lie her down in bed next to me and feed her. (I have been trying to wean her off the night feeds using a method I call If She Screams Really Loudly I Will Just Feed Her). This also gives me the chance to do useful things like pick up my phone and Google Stuff That You Really Shouldn’t Google When You Are Sleep-deprived at 4am In The Morning. Can you die/get some horrible disease from continuous sleep-deprivation? Or is my baby evil?
She has finished feeding but still awake.
Right, time for co-sleeping…or as it is known in our house Co-sleeping With The Enemy or Pretend To Be Asleep No Matter What (not for the fainthearted). She pulls my hair, she bites my nose, she stands on daddy’s head, she tries to climb up the headboard, but finally, finally, finally…
She looks cute, and at 9pm, 10pm or even 11pm I might have gazed lovingly at her for a few minutes. BUT NOT AT STUPID PAST 4AM. I am so over it by now. Desperately seeking sleep, I lie precariously on the edge of the bed. Despite her size she seems to be taking up a hell of a lot of room. But I dare not move. One cough, sneeze or bed creak and I will be right back at Square One.
I look at the clock. IF I go to sleep RIGHT this second I could still get a few hours sleep before the actual morning.
SO GO TO SLEEP.
My body is tired but mind is wide awake…and being rather annoying. Why does my baby not sleep? I am definitely not going to be able to get out of bed tomorrow/today. Everyone else’s baby sleeps. I am rubbish at babies.
OH SHUT UP AND SLEEP.
Eventually my aching muscles sink into the mattress and I doze off…for about an hour and a half. At which point, I am rudely awoken by the Toddler shouting something about Thomas the Tank Engine and Weetabix.
So I get up, get dressed (eventually) and get on with it (with the help of a big cup of coffee). And as I play, sing, read and laugh with my lively girls, I think to myself that actually I am not that rubbish at babies. My house is a mess, I can’t get my head around anything more complicated than Play Doh, but the girls are happy and healthy, so (for today at least) I am kicking sleep-deprivation’s arse….
It is amazing how much better things look after a good….ninety minutes sleep…
So, how do you get your baby to go to sleep and stay asleep when they do not want to be asleep?
Wait until they are like, really, really, really, tired (about two years) then they will finally sleep like, well, a baby….
Failing that, read this post and do the complete opposite.
Still awake? Then invest in a good survival kit – coffee, wine, a spare bed and Sky plus- and wait for it to pass. Good luck!!!
Do you have a survival kit? Feel free to share any of your tips on surviving with a sleep thief in the comment box below or on my Facebook page thingy and meet other sleep-deprived parents.