I didn’t plan on becoming fixated on the S word. It just happened. And I think it happens to every new mum. It’s inevitable.
I’m tired of obsessing over sleep. I’m tired of hearing myself talk about sleep. Tired of being asked about sleep. Tired of counting how much sleep I’m getting. Tired of worrying about how much sleep I’m not getting. I’m tired…
As soon as you are pregnant the questions start rolling in. Strangers, friends, colleagues, everyone has something to ask you suddenly. When are you due? How far along are you? Do you know what you’re having? Was it planned? When are you going off work? How long are you taking off work? Are you scared? Are you excited? Is it twins? The list goes on. Once you’re passed the endless stream of questions directed at your belly, the floodgates open on the hundreds of enquiries directed at you – often asked via your new wee bubba. The top of the list of queries is this… how do they sleep, or an iteration of that very question. Are they a good sleeper? Are you getting much sleep? How are you coping with the lack of sleep? Is she sleeping through? How’s the sleeping going? Has she mastered sleeping? How many times are you up a night? Does she feed much through the night? What time does she go to bed? Do you have a bedtime routine? Have you thought about formula to fill her up before bed? The list goes on. It’s no wonder I’ve inadvertently become obsessed with the hours between 11pm and 7am.
I have always loved my sleep, but I never thought it would become so important to the world, and in turn, so high up on my list of worries every day. I feel like it’s all I talk about. I feel like it’s becoming more important than everything else. And it sucks. It’s time to stop obsessing over sleep. It’s time the world stopped asking every mother about sleep all the time. It’s time to stop making mothers feel like they’re failing if their babies don’t ‘sleep through’. And It’s definitely time to stop telling other mums that your baby sleeps all night already. Good for you, but nobody wants to hear that. Nobody. And, from experience, once you utter those words you’ll eat them soon enough when the next growth spurt comes around and everything changes (I learned this the hard way!).
Nothing stays the same when there’s a baby involved, I know that now, and it’s what I cling to as I enter week 8 of waking 6+ times a night. So, sleep, let’s not speak of it like ‘sleeping through’ is the end goal of being a new parent. Let’s discuss it with other new mums yes, that’s fine. That’s helpful and productive. Let’s go online and find solace in knowing we’re not alone. But let’s not let it become more important than the bundle of joy at the centre of our life. Let’s remember that it’s not the be all and end all. Yes, I struggle in the morning to see the positive in not remembering the last time I had more than 4 hours of sleep in one go, but I wake up to a smiling baby who is happy all day. Let’s talk about that. She’s not fussed by the constant wakings. It doesn’t put her up or down, and I’ve yet to meet a baby who smiles as much as mine (honestly, she is such a smiler and it melts my heart every time). I’ve created an amazing, happy, smiling, giggling, chubby, cute, brilliant little human.
I’m doing a good job. I’m not sure if I can make her sleep – i really have tried. I do know that I can keep her smiling though. I can keep feeding her and helping her grow. I can keep singing to her and talking to her and helping her to become more amazing every day. And that’s worth me obsessing over. Sleep is not. Sleep can wait. Sleep will come. But now, now is about the waking hours, and they are so so sweet. And through the long nights I’ll respond to her cries, I’ll hold her tight, breastfeed and comfort feed her, reassure her I’m here for her and try and smile about the amazing journey we’re on, because in amongst the millions of questions I’m asked about my baby and sleep, I’m also constantly reminded of how quickly this will go, and how I’ll look back and not believe how fast it flew by. How tired I was won’t be important. And these long nights won’t feel so long anymore. So yes, I’m tired.
No, of course she’s not sleeping through (breastfed babies don’t, apparently). But my oh my, look at the f***ing amazing job I’m doing. Give me a break. Let me give myself a break. Let all mums have some respite from this sleeping obsession. We are superwomen. We are superhuman. We are bringing new people into this world and keeping them alive.
We are awesome. I am awesome. I’m keeping a human alive with milk that my body is producing. I am entertaining a baby all day every day. And I’m doing it all on hardly an ZZZs. I deserve a medal. I need to give myself a pat on the back and loosen up about the (no) s***p. I need to shut up about it. And so does everybody else. Let’s not talk or think about it all day. It’s bad enough thinking about it all the hours of the night. Give me a break. Give all mums a break. We’re tired after all!