Sleep…what is that again? Since having LL I’ve forgotten what a full nights sleep feels like. I wanted to write this post to share the joys of my baby’s sleep issues, as I’m sure this is a problem for some of you, too! The thought that you’re not alone and there’s actually someone else out there going through the same thing can be such a relief. So here goes…
LL has never been a great sleeper. She’s one next week, and we still have the following issues…
- She fights her naps.
- She wakes frequently during the night, and it’s difficult to get her to settle again. (She’s usually wide awake and is babbling away, like it’s morning and time to get up. Help. Me. Please.).
- She struggles to self soothe.
- She has shown signs of separation anxiety.
First of all, I’m not sure if we’ve made a bit of a rod for our own back (I hate this saying, you just do what you think is right at the time, don’t you!) She suffered badly with reflux when she was born. She is formula fed as she wouldn’t latch on. I was gutted that I couldn’t breastfeed, and blamed myself that she was bringing up her formula after feeds. I was convinced that if she’d had my milk she’d be fine, but we were reassured that reflux can be a normal phase in newborns. It was still a very worrying and stressful time though. It was particularly bad when we put her down to sleep. Once she threw up all over her face when she was lying down. She was covered. We decided to follow professional advice and letting her fall asleep on us to allow her “milk to go down”. Eventually it settled, and we just carried on as we were, letting her fall asleep on us. It was second nature and we’d done it from the start, so we didn’t see any reason to do things differently. We just transferred her to her Moses basket once she was asleep. But it has become apparent that she still prefers mummy and daddy snuggles to falling asleep on her own in her cot.
She’s shown signs of separation anxiety, something which, before I had her, I never realised could be such a problem. She has cried and screamed when we’ve put her down or left the room, even for a few minutes. As soon as we pick her up she stops. In the day it’s easier to distract her with something, but bed time is particularly challenging. We’ve tried our best to create a lovely relaxing routine for her (bath, story, bottle then bed). She gets really drowsy after her bedtime milk, so you’d think it’d be easy just to pop her down and tuck her in. The room is dark, she’s all relaxed and warm after her bath and Ewan the Dream Sheep is on in the background. But no, as soon as she feels herself hit the mattress she cries, which quickly turns into a scream. (I’ve had to go round and apologise to our neighbours on a few occasions as they must wonder what on earth is going on!) We’ve been in and out of her room up to ten times in one night trying to settle her. And when it happens every single night, for months on end, it can be pretty exhausting.
We’ve tried a few methods now to get her to fall asleep on her own. Controlled crying just hasn’t worked for us. She gets hysterical, to the point where she makes herself sick. We’ve never felt comfortable leaving her to cry for too long anyway so this method isn’t the right fit for us to be honest. I know mums who have persisted with it and triumphed, and I’ve read that if you stick with it then it can really work. The Pick Up, Put Down method has also failed. I think I got up to 39 pick ups and my arms couldn’t manage anymore. It was like a mini workout! The gradual retreat method has worked to some extent, but we still hit a wall in overcoming the issue completely. What usually helps is lying on the floor whilst holding her hand and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. She’ll nod off, but it’s no surprise when she cries as we go to leave. Eventually she’ll fall into a deeper state of sleep, but this can take up to a few hours. I’ve fallen asleep on her floor many times, waking up hours later shivering and with a dead arm from grasping her hand. She’s fast off of course, mouth open and making content little snoring sounds. I just feel like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards and crawl back into bed, only to be woken up half an hour later.
She also wakes randomly throughout the night. Anything from 10.30pm (just as me and Hubby are getting ready to go to sleep), 11.30pm, 12.30am, 1am, 2.30am, 3am…it’s so unpredictable. She can be up for a couple of hours. Like this morning. 4am wake up call and she’s just gone back down. (It’s 6.30am, the time she probably should be getting up but we are both shattered). I spent an hour trying to get her back off to sleep, she had a bottle and then I took her downstairs as she was shouting out and squealing. I put Beatrix Potter on whilst she played with her toys until she fell asleep on me at 6am. She’s now snuggled up in her cot, and I’m desperate for my bed. I’ve researched what feels like every website on the planet promising to “help you and your baby to get more sleep.” Yeah, right! There have been nights where I’ve sat up with her and cried into her pyjamas. We’ve had playtime at 1am until 4am, by the end of it I’ve been pulling my hair out, desperate to get some sleep. The sound of her musical penguin has about driven me mad (“Hi, I’m a penguin, let’s sing a song! It’s time to sing, it’s time to play, I’m so happy we can play today”. SERIOUSLY?) She’s been eating rice cakes watching Peppa Pig at 3am, whilst I’m zombified on the sofa, struggling to keep my eyes open. She’s giggling away and I can’t help but let out a little groan. It’s 3am!!! Not 8am!!! (Oh, pleeeeeaaaaasssseee let it be 8am). We’ve tried bringing her into bed with us, most of the time she snuggles into me, sighs and then she nods off. We all get some sleep. But recently this hasn’t worked. She’ll settle one minute, then the next she’s squirming and crying out, seeming really agitated. This can go on for up to an hour until I finally give in and resort to making a bottle (sorry Health Visitor, you told me not to but there’s no other way I’m afraid). I never know if it’s her teeth, if she’s hungry, thirsty, had a nightmare, is feeling poorly…you just have to try everything and hope something works. Most importantly, you have to do what feels right for you and your family. Parenthood is hard, I’ve discovered, but I’m told it gets easier and I know it’s the best thing in the world being a mummy. So aside from feeling like a zombie every day, I’m so thankful and feel very blessed to have her. Even when she’s screaming in my ear at 3am.
If you would like to share your baby sleep troubles, or have any advice, please comment below! It’s good to share!