I have always needed a lot of sleep so going from an average of 10 hours a night during pregnancy to 4 with a newborn was never going to go well.
Over the weeks I have definitely not got used to it, but there are some things that have made it slightly easier to cope with the excruciating torture that is sleep deprivation. Here are my top tips:
- Stop counting – I started off thinking to myself “If he goes off by x time, I’ll get this many hours of sleep…” But you’re just constantly setting yourself up for a fall. Because your baby is a mind-reader and as soon as he hears this he has a devilish chuckle to himself. “We’ll see about that Mummy!” You can guarantee you will be up longer with him than ever before and that even if you do manage to get him down, he will bide his time until your eyes close before pinging his open and letting out a wail. My advice – assume you won’t get any sleep and then anything more is a bonus.
- Everything’s a-changing – don’t ever let yourself think for a second that anything your baby does sleep-related is a sign. Your baby might sleep through to 6am one night and you’ll rejoice, dance and thank the sleep gods that he is starting to settle down. You’ll be smugly thinking you have a boy on the edge of going through the night. You will plan to relax with a glass of wine tonight because you know you’ll be going through the night. Hallelujah!! Then the next night you are up every hour. Your baby is not sleeping through the night. He is taunting you. Do not show him that he has fooled you. This is a sign of weakness and babies can smell weakness.
- Violence isn’t the answer – you will at times want to smack your partner so hard that his teeth chatter. Like when he assumes the baby went through the night because he himself has slept through. Or when he gets ill and vacates the bedroom to recuperate in the spare room (but not before sharing his germs with you and the baby, who do not get time off to recuperate). Or when he excitedly starts to tell you how many hours you have had to sleep (‘so you must have got a good five hours there love’) because he’s trying to put a good spin on it to cheer you up but what he fails to recognise is that you’ve accumulated those hours over the course of a day in 10 different sittings and really he’s just pissing you off because you know he’s had more and he seems to be saying you must have had enough. You most definitely haven’t. I digress. What was my point? Oh yeah that violence isn’t the answer. But it doesn’t hurt him if you stick your middle finger up at him and it will make you feel a lot better.
- Chocolate. No further explanation needed. It is necessary.
- Get a hobby – this blog has been a godsend for me, because instead of refreshing Facebook and googling the colours of baby poo at 3am, I am writing and thinking up themes and noting down parts of my day that might come in useful for blogs. Having a hobby that you can do in the small hours not only takes your mind off the sleep you are not getting, but also helps keep your spirits up. It’s got to be better than staring at pictures trying to work out the difference between breastfed baby poo and diahorrea.
- Backseat driver – whenever you go somewhere and your partner is driving, get in the back and use the trip for a nap. The white noise and vibrations will help you go off as well as the baby and it saves you having to snap at your partner for his racecar driving in your tired state. This tip works well to prevent divorce as well as aiding sleep deprived parents. Credit where it’s due, because he’s got a lot of stick on here, but I should say that this one was actually my husband’s idea and not because he was trying to stop me telling him how to drive but just because he could see how desperately I needed the sleep.
- Avoid heavy machinery – give yourself a break and don’t try to be Wonder Woman. Avoid any unnecessary thinking. Write down everything in a pocket diary (times, dates, prices, reminders, times your baby has eaten and pooed, your husband’s name, your car reg etc) so you don’t have to store any detail in your mind. Keep all your receipts in said diary in the week you acquired them because I guarantee you will go on your online banking and have no recollection of the transactions and it’s a bit embarrassing to keep ringing the bank and then realising you did actually spend £30 on shelves for the baby’s room on Amazon in the middle of the night and when they arrived you put the box in your dumping room and forgot they existed.
- Sling it – the sling was one of the best things we got for the baby. Not only does it allow you to be hands free when the baby won’t let you put him down, but you can safely nap on the couch with your baby inside it if you sleep on your back (I will ignore any comments about what you can and can’t do on this front – you do what you need to and is right for you and your baby and this worked for us, meant we both got some kip and didn’t kill one another so it can’t be the demon sin it’s made out to be).
- Nap with caution – I started getting into a habit of having a nap between 9pm and 11pm. It was a huge mistake. My body thought it was nighttime and it was going to sleep properly so on being woken by my husband it was getting to the point where he may as well have been sticking his hand into a lion’s den. If you’re going to nap, I advise doing it earlier in the day and keeping it to around 45 mins. That way you feel more refreshed afterwards and not like you want to curl up in a corner and cry (ha who am I kidding? I can count the number of times my baby has ever napped for as long as 45 mins in the day – chance would be a fine thing!)
- Sarcasm isn’t big or clever but it bloody makes you feel better. Woman in shop says to me: “Ah bless, is he letting you have any sleep?” I’m buying coffee, concealer and chocolate biscuits. I look like something out of the Addams Family, have sick down my top and I’ve clearly got a screaming newborn in the pram. “Yes Einstein I got a full 12 hours followed by a nap just for fun mid morning and then I flew here on my magical unicorn.” What do you think? To the man who said “Oh can’t you get past there?” as he blocked the entire aisle in the supermarket via a combination of his trolley and standing so far back behind it to scan the shelves – “Yes actually I can get by thanks to my Marty Mcfly hoverboard pram with angel wings. I was just standing here admiring the view.” I could go on and on and on. The world is full of idiots when you aren’t tired let alone when you can practically see inside your brain every time you blink.
If all else fails then every time you’re about to lose it completely just count to 10 and remember that it could be worse. Someone could take away the chocolate and then there really would be something to cry about.