Six weeks in and no sign of break. No rest in between the feeds and the changes. This is what newborn sleep is really like.
I wasn’t expecting another baby like The Big One, who slept peacefully all night from 5 weeks old. I was hoping we wouldn’t get another one like The Schoolboy, who would only sleep for 40 minute blocks before waking and screaming for two hours. Reflux is the worst.
I think I was expecting something in between the two, and that’s what I have. Maybe I was also expecting to be able to get through it all in the knowledge that it’s not forever. It’s a short period of time. Sleep will be my reward one day. It’s really not that hard and as long as you have coffee you can get through the day.
I was wrong.
It’s really hard this time.
I am finding the sleepless nights relentless. Lonely. Painful. I am waking after two maybe three hours- if I’m lucky- and wanting more. I am not getting more. Most nights Elise and I play a game of frustration as she attempts to latch on for a feed over and over and over again. We battle over where she should sleep; she prefers to be beside me at all times, whereas I would like her to at least try the bedside crib. We differ over what time is suitable to wake for the day. 4am is not manageable, 2am even less so.
It’s not forever.
You will get through it.
And while this is true, it doesn’t help me now. It doesn’t make the 7am wake ups any easier after 2 hours of fitful sleep. It doesn’t make the school run easier. It doesn’t make the work deadline easier. It doesn’t make the desperate tiredness any easier at all. It is all so hard. And while it is hard, life is hard too. The little things no longer make me smile when all I can think is how bone achingly tired I am. How low this makes me feel. How much I want to curl up in bed and sleep and sleep and sleep.
Sleep when the baby sleeps.
I returned to work when she was 3 weeks old. While this was my decision, and I knew I wouldn’t be taking maternity leave, this is hard. It means I can’t rest when she finally sleeps. I have to fit in my work around my children. I have to keep going.
And I will keep going, because what else can I do? My baby needs me so intensely right now. And I’ll be there for her. Amid the grunts and squirms and the writhing and the feeds, she is still just a newborn baby needing to be held. So I hold her, through the night and through the years, until she needs me no more. And the guilt? It will always be there. I know I should be enjoying her a lot more, after all we went through to get her here safely. I know that there are empty arms around the world screaming out to be where I am. Sleep deprived, but with child. I know that I am lucky but I cannot seem to get my head above the water for long enough to see it.
And so newborn sleep is elusive. Unpredictable. A sore subject. And this is a phase that shall pass all too quickly, and my arms too will be empty one day as my baby grows and the distance between us grows with it. I hope that I can find a way to make it all a little easier soon.