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Sleep is for the weak – How I survived sleep deprivation

1
Having a child, I knew my sleep would suffer. Friends with children often joked that a lay-in was as likely as a pig with wings. But I didn’t really realise how bad it could be until it affected me.

On a good night, my son would wake up every three hours. Night after night, often I would be awake three or four times during the night feeding my son. To try and stop me from falling asleep, I would scroll and scroll through social media feeds and websites until I actually thought I would run out of things to read.

Even when my son was back to sleep

SelfishMother.com
2
and in his cot in our room, his snoring and snuffling would keep me awake.

I tried to keep a realistic attitude about it all – I knew my sleep would be affected by having a baby and I knew I was lucky to be able to take almost a year of maternity leave to look after him. I had close friends who were in a similar situation to me but it didn’t stop me feeling a little sad and annoyed when I met other mums with babies who slept through the night.

Luckily, my son was a good napper so I’d try and catch some zzzs in the day when I could. And my

SelfishMother.com
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husband wasn’t useless – he just couldn’t feed my son like I could. Often he was able to sleep right though and wouldn’t even hear my son crying in the night.

However when I went back to work, the wheels started to come off. With a fuzzy head and a terrible memory, I felt inadequate and thought my office would soon catch on that I wasn’t as productive as I was pre-pregnancy. I was working on a big event that needed me to be firing on all cylinders and I just wasn’t.

We’d had a stretch of illness and teething coinciding with me going

SelfishMother.com
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back to work and my son starting nursery. His sleep got even worse – he was waking every hour for milk and wanted to fall asleep on me, rather than in his cot like he had always done.

I had gone for a weekend seaside break with my friends and their children, hoping to have a relaxing time. Instead, I spent most of my time awake in our room – singing and rocking my son to sleep, crying in desperation and wishing I could be downstairs with my friends, having fun and watching Strictly.

My big work event came and the day after, I was shaking with tears

SelfishMother.com
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and nerves. Sitting down with my GP, I told her how I was feeling – tired, worried, feeling unable to cope.

The lack of sleep had totally destroyed any confidence I had in being able to get through the day. I told her I wanted to stop breastfeeding as it meant that I couldn’t share the load with my husband. I told her I felt like I wasn’t fit to look after my son. I told her that I felt like running away.

She instantly told me I needed some time off to rest and signed me off work for two weeks with exhaustion. She gently suggested that stopping

SelfishMother.com
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breastfeeding might be a good idea.

So I did. I was really lucky in the fact that my son took to stopping breastfeeding really easily. By that point, he only fed at night and ate actual meals during the day. My husband took over bed times and got up through the night to pat my son’s back and get him to sleep.

My boss was really understanding and told me not to come back to work until I was feeling better. So whilst my son was at nursery, I slept or read. Soon the clouds were lifting – I was starting to feel like me again.

With a little help

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from Dr Ferber’s sleep advice, it only took my son four nights to go from waking multiple times to sleeping through the night. We couldn’t believe it. Now he sleeps around 11 hours every night – often waking early – but I don’t mind. Being awake at 6am every day is nothing compared to the torture that is sleep deprivation.

One of my mum friends once told me that during the early days of motherhood, she had fantasised about throwing herself down the stairs so she could be hospitalised and get some rest. Shockingly, I laughed at the time as I knew

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exactly how she felt.

All I can say to anyone going through what I went though is that it will end. If you are feeling like you can’t cope, go and talk to your GP or get advice from your Health Visitor. Reach out and talk to your partner, friends and family. Your child will sleep eventually, but look after yourself in the meantime.

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Kirsty Bowen

By

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- 30 Jan 19

Having a child, I knew my sleep would suffer. Friends with children often joked that a lay-in was as likely as a pig with wings. But I didn’t really realise how bad it could be until it affected me.

On a good night, my son would wake up every three hours. Night after night, often I would be awake three or four times during the night feeding my son. To try and stop me from falling asleep, I would scroll and scroll through social media feeds and websites until I actually thought I would run out of things to read.

Even when my son was back to sleep and in his cot in our room, his snoring and snuffling would keep me awake.

I tried to keep a realistic attitude about it all – I knew my sleep would be affected by having a baby and I knew I was lucky to be able to take almost a year of maternity leave to look after him. I had close friends who were in a similar situation to me but it didn’t stop me feeling a little sad and annoyed when I met other mums with babies who slept through the night.

Luckily, my son was a good napper so I’d try and catch some zzzs in the day when I could. And my husband wasn’t useless – he just couldn’t feed my son like I could. Often he was able to sleep right though and wouldn’t even hear my son crying in the night.

However when I went back to work, the wheels started to come off. With a fuzzy head and a terrible memory, I felt inadequate and thought my office would soon catch on that I wasn’t as productive as I was pre-pregnancy. I was working on a big event that needed me to be firing on all cylinders and I just wasn’t.

We’d had a stretch of illness and teething coinciding with me going back to work and my son starting nursery. His sleep got even worse – he was waking every hour for milk and wanted to fall asleep on me, rather than in his cot like he had always done.

I had gone for a weekend seaside break with my friends and their children, hoping to have a relaxing time. Instead, I spent most of my time awake in our room – singing and rocking my son to sleep, crying in desperation and wishing I could be downstairs with my friends, having fun and watching Strictly.

My big work event came and the day after, I was shaking with tears and nerves. Sitting down with my GP, I told her how I was feeling – tired, worried, feeling unable to cope.

The lack of sleep had totally destroyed any confidence I had in being able to get through the day. I told her I wanted to stop breastfeeding as it meant that I couldn’t share the load with my husband. I told her I felt like I wasn’t fit to look after my son. I told her that I felt like running away.

She instantly told me I needed some time off to rest and signed me off work for two weeks with exhaustion. She gently suggested that stopping breastfeeding might be a good idea.

So I did. I was really lucky in the fact that my son took to stopping breastfeeding really easily. By that point, he only fed at night and ate actual meals during the day. My husband took over bed times and got up through the night to pat my son’s back and get him to sleep.

My boss was really understanding and told me not to come back to work until I was feeling better. So whilst my son was at nursery, I slept or read. Soon the clouds were lifting – I was starting to feel like me again.

With a little help from Dr Ferber’s sleep advice, it only took my son four nights to go from waking multiple times to sleeping through the night. We couldn’t believe it. Now he sleeps around 11 hours every night – often waking early – but I don’t mind. Being awake at 6am every day is nothing compared to the torture that is sleep deprivation.

One of my mum friends once told me that during the early days of motherhood, she had fantasised about throwing herself down the stairs so she could be hospitalised and get some rest. Shockingly, I laughed at the time as I knew exactly how she felt.

All I can say to anyone going through what I went though is that it will end. If you are feeling like you can’t cope, go and talk to your GP or get advice from your Health Visitor. Reach out and talk to your partner, friends and family. Your child will sleep eventually, but look after yourself in the meantime.

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