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Sleep is for the Weak

September 10, 2010

Sleep is for the Weak and Childless. Or so I keep telling myself. But truth be told, sleep is something of an obsession for all parents.

My obsession with sleep started long before Lyra was born, when her nightly kickboxing sessions kept me awake for hours on end. I found that a strategically placed purring cat stretched over my ever expanding belly would help her and therefore me get some shuteye. But as my belly got bigger, the balancing act got too much for even my most determined cat. So I had very little sleep at all those last few weeks.

So I found myself in the final stages of labour, wanting to fall asleep between contractions but the midwife seemed to think I had more important things to attend to. Then hey presto, out popped Lyra and I was on an adrenaline high. Daddy and baby slept on and off for 48 hours. But not me. I was climbing the Walls with excitement.

Then the tiredness kicked in. And so did the night feeds. Luckily, Lyra was always a very good sleeper. Was I singing from the rooftops and praising God? No. I was moaning about being lonely in the wee small hours as accustomed to so little sleep I just couldn’t doze off. I’d banked on at least having some company for my nightly wakings.

The weeks went on. My mummy friends settled into routines. They seemed to know to the second when little Esmerelda was due a sleep. Not so me. Disorganised parent of the year.

I mean, I could hazard a pretty good guess when Lyra would be asleep. Namely at any point at which she was due visitors or if we were due to leave the house. You could rely on that.

And getting her to sleep. Again, other mummies seemed to have trained young Tarquinius to soothe himself to sleep with a little Baby Einstein playing. Not so Lyra. No. She would only go to sleep if you walked her and sang ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ to her again and again and again and.. Well, you get the picture.

Weirdly, I often found that after about the 53rd rendition I would inexplicably forget the lyrics. At which point Lyra’s sleepy eyes would flash open. Accusingly. “You have failed as a mother. You don’t even know the words to Twinkle Twinkle. How is a baby to manage?”

I took to lying when people asked if she slept through. On the odd occasion she does it. I sit for hours watching her. Convinced she must be dead (you’ll be glad to hear, she never is). As a rule, She doesn’t sleep through. It doesn’t bother me as those sleepy feeds actually help me to sleep for some reason. But it seems to bother everyone else. A lot. She doesn’t sleep through? At her age? You must be a TERRIBLE mother. (okay, so I added the last bit).

Point being, I learnt to lie. Tell people what they want to hear and not only do they shut up and leave you alone, they also respect your wonderful (if fictional) mothering skills.

So shhhh don’t tell anyone. (Bad) Mum’s the word.


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  1. Carla permalink

    Although Alexa is a good sleeper (honestly) Isobel was just over 2 years old….. yes you read that right, 2 years old, before she slept through the night!!! So you’re not on your own with a little person who has far more exciting things to do than sleep.

    • 2 years? And yet you decided to have another???!!!

      She’s actually pretty good most nights she just needs feeding. I do find that if we’ve gone to bed early it means I’m wide awake at 4am even if she isn’t – but now I’ve found Twitter it’s all okay….

  2. I’m really glad to find other mums who don’t have sleep-trained babies, really really really glad. It makes me feel slightly less weird. Ben has never had any sort of sleep training except for night-time wind-down stuff like pyjamas, teeth, story, boob…. but even that doesn’t send him to sleep. When he’s ready, he’s ready. And not before. And woe betide if you miss the sweet spot, he goes totally bonkers, hurling himself (quite happily) around the bedroom, bouncing off the bed, trying to do rolypolys, flinging himself into his tent, on and off his bed, demanding we become “tents” i.e. something he can commando crawl under, demanding we let him climb up to our heads so he can jump off.

    I do love it but on the 6th night of missing the sweet spot I find myself wishing we had bedroom doors, and cot bars (not that either of them would help now he’s tall enough to reach the handles and climb out of cots….)……

  3. My littlies most deffinately took a long time to sleep through and if memory serves me right it wasnt until I stopped BF that they started to! I’d say about 14 mths for Little Mr and 12 mnths for the Little Missx2. Sleep deprivation is an ongoing thing just when you have your little darling in a ‘routine’ their needs change and your back to square one! I wouldnt have change anything about their first months it was all so lovely!

    BTW I still pop in to make sure that they are ‘breathing’ and they are 4yo and 6yo, I cant help it!! Do I sleep well ? No not really, sleep really is for the weak and childless.!

  4. It was only when I realised that different people have different definitions for what they mean by ‘sleeping through’. I take it to mean put the baby to bed, it sleeps until 7am, preferably later. My oldest did that at a very early stage. We thought we had this sleeping thing sussed.

    (Mother Nature has a way of going ‘oi smug gits’ and we duly got a non sleeper for No. 2. He is now 3 1/2 years and wakes at least once every night. He didn’t get anywhere close to sleeping through until he was gone 2.)

    Anyhow, turns out that some book somewhere defines sleeping through as being asleep between the time of 12am and 5am. To me that doesn’t count but some people use it when boasting about the sleeping abilities of Tarquinius. Sigh.

    • Using that definition, Lyra has slept through since the day she was born. Not sure that constitutes a nights sleep in my book!

      To be honest, she’s still a better sleeper than me. Largely because I sit up for hours on my iPhone. Especially now I’ve started blogging and tweeting!

      • mummyandkatie permalink

        i’ve heard loads of people saying ‘she sleeps through’ and it turns out they mean they feed at 7, dream feed at 11 then little one is up at 5 for another feed. That’s not sleeping through! As pantswithnames says, sleeping through to me involves bedtime to morning time, no waking up! K sleeps through, sometimes. But not often. But i don’t mind because even if she does, I dont.

        You’re so right about the nightfeeds. They (thankfully) were a quick top up, in my bed, then her back to sleep. Mummy however, wide awake!

  5. Anna Stevenson permalink

    Tomas stopped night feeds at around 10 weeks but didn’t sleep through until pretty much now! As soon as he turned 12 weeks he decided to roll over onti his front and started ‘crawling’ at night, all night and losing his dummy. At 6 months we took his dummy off him as I was up every 10 mins giving it back to him.
    Then we move him into his own bedroom.
    Sometimes he would wake up at midnight and be up til 4am – crying, tossing and turning, waking up 10 secs after falling sleep.
    For the first 12 weeks of his life he would only nap if I held him, as soon as I tried to put him down he would immidetiatly wake up and scream!
    Then he was ok to sleep in the pram during the day. But before 12 weeks as soon as the pram would stop, he would wake up.

    I think he actually slept better as a newborn then he did after 12 weeks!

    I have recently stopped feeding him in the evening, so he can’t use breastfeeding and me as a prob for sleeping anymore. So he now gets a cup of cow’s milk and gets put into his cot. He is 13.5 months and only now getting to sleep by himself, or sometimes I need to be in the room and just have my hand on him.

    But even now he will sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, cry for 2 secs and then roll over and back to sleep but I would be awake for the next 30 mins!

    Since he was born I have’nt spent a single night away from him so have’nt had a single full night of sleep, plus after becoming pregnant I started waking up in the night at least once.

    Tomas is usually up around 5.30am and this is when my day starts then to work for 8.30 and bedtime for me is 11ish, so not sure when I will eve get 8 hours at night. But I would not change my little monkey for the world :))

    Lyra will learn how to sleep on her own but you have to let her as well. That does mean her sleeping in her own room in her cot. We decided against controlled crying as Tomas is just too stuborn for it! It is amazing but Tomas was ready to start going to sleep by himself and sometimes would cry if we tried to help me, so we just left him few times in his cot and he settled. Started off with him not wanting to be rocked for his day nap, so I put him in his cot and he started playing with the mobile. Then I got back to check on him 5 mins later and he was kneeling but still playing with the mobile then after another 5-7 mins as mobile’s music stopped I checked and he was asleep.

    They are all different and ready at different times, we just need to be able to read the signs :)) xx

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