The ultimate goal of a new parent is to achieve the coveted prize that is sleeping though the night. That’s both of you – the baby who until now has had you up at all hours, and you, the parent who has been blearily breast feeding or making bottles at 3am for so long you can’t remember what a full nights sleep is like.
So having conquered part one of this parenting Everest, Lumpy now sleeps regularly from 7pm until 5 and sometimes 6am without waking. Occasionally, with new teeth popping up every couple of weeks we’ll have a blip where she is inconsolable at all hours but thankfully these are short lived. We didn’t do anything in particular to achieve STTN (sleeping through the night), we just waited for her to figure it out. And as she has become more active, spending more time on her feet than on her bum (she has eschewed crawling completely in favour of cruising the furniture and the chasing the cat in her baby walker) she is more physically, and mentally exhausted. And so am I but here’s the crazy thing – I am unable to make it though the night.
Not long after she moved into her own room at 5 months and started sleeping until 2 or 3am without a break, I have stopped sleeping and started having something that, to me at least, is a bit like what night terrors must be like. I will wake to find myself bolt upright in bed looking for the baby several times a night. I will find myself patting the duvet, flailing at J, pushing him out of the way as he is clearly lying on the baby because she is in the bed with us. I switch on the lights looking for the baby, I look under the bed, everywhere looking for a child who not only isn’t there, but has never been there. Lumpy never slept in our bed with us over night because she was in a crib right next to me, close enough for me to hold her hand and lift her out without me getting out of bed – our bedroom is very small so she was literally wedged down the gap between the bed and the wall where my nightstand used to be.
Sound crazy? Certainly feels that way and when I say that it gets weirder you will probably think I need some sort of professional help. I’ve reviewed our iBaby video monitor on this blog and it is wonderful. When I finally come too enough to realise what I’m doing in the night I finally figure out that I can check on the baby using the monitor. On goes the iPhone and up comes a picture of my sleeping pixie, quite happy and safe in her cot not 15 feet from my door. Most nights this is sufficient for me to lie back down as if nothing happened but sometimes, more often that I’m really happy about, I will not only have checked that she is in her room and been satisfied with that, but I will then continue to look for the OTHER baby that I know is still in the bed. On more than one occasion I have even lain in bed holding the other baby on my chest (actually holding out my hands steadying an invisible baby) wondering to myself where I am going to put this child to sleep because it’s not safe in bed with us, that’s why I woke up in the first place, and can’t possibly share a cot with Lumpy. This dilemma will have me in some sort of state of consciousness for some time until something, normally J, snaps me out of it.
It’s official. The plot has left the building. But crazy aside, this behaviour istaking it’s toll on me – I feel like I’m getting less sleep that I did when Lumpy was first born, and on J, who regularly gets poked, prodded, duvet stolen, pushed and talked to in the middle of the night and still has to go to work.
I’ve tried a warm milky drink before bed, I don’t drink caffeine so can’t cut that out. I’ve tried only having water and no food after 9pm – compulsive snacker late at night. I’ve tried going to bed earlier, later, warm baths, lavender on my pillow, no cheese, no wine – I’m not much of a drinker anyway so this is no hardship, but still these dreams persist.
I tried the doctor, who understandably doesn’t want to prescribe anything because a) it doesn’t appear to be anxiety because I’m so chilled out the rest of the time, b) it’s not depression – see a, c) I might not hear Lumpy if she does wake and neither does J, d) pills are a short term solution not a cure. What does she prescribe? Warm milky drink, lavender, warm bath. Been there done that. Do something different before bed – read a book, get J to check on Lumpy instead of doing it myself, try a herbal solution over the counter like Rescue Remedy or More normal drugs like Nightol.
My best friend tells me she has experienced the same thing, so does my mum so I know I’m not mad, just crazy. But when it’s every night, multiple times a night it’s time to take action. We’ll start with the rescue remedy. Anyone else got any bright ideas?