Author: Natalie Johansson
Before I had children I loved sleep, like, REALLY loved sleep.
As a child I slept impeccably. In my teens, I would think nothing of sleeping in until midday on a weekend and then I would just happily lollop the rest of the day away. In my twenties, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness which meant that sleep was a necessity to my healing. Then came Lukas, my firstborn.
Nothing can truly prepare you for your first baby and as we muddled our way through the first few weeks with our newborn and very little sleep we were assured this was normal. Throw in colic and reflux over the next few weeks and the sleeping (understandably) didn’t improve.
Weeks turned into months and still he didn’t sleep and I don’t just mean he wouldn’t sleep through the night, I mean he was awake every 2 hours or less. We were broken human beings.
In an attempt to save our sanity we tried pretty much everything and anything; white noise, dummies, rocking, walking, singing, shhhing, swaddling…the list was endless. On a side note Google is NOT your friend at 3am when your searching ‘why doesn’t my baby sleep?’ or ‘Why does my child hate me?’
We consoled ourselves with the promises of ‘he will sleep once your weaning him/ when he walks/ when he starts nursery’. He didn’t.
Our coping mechanisms were co-sleeping, shifts (one of us would sleep in the spare room for half the night before swapping over) and copious amounts of coffee. Eventually I think we just adjusted, although admittedly some days were easier than others, and with time Lukas’ sleep did improve; on average he would wake 2-3 times a night.
We had always planned to have more than one child, so when Lukas was about 2 we decided to get on with expanding our family, spurred on by the theory that ‘you’ll never get two kids alike’ (I know right, we are idiots). We welcomed our second baby Matthias into the world in June 2016.
This time we had a plan, we invested in a Sleepyhead and a Snuzpod so we could co-sleep as safely as possible, we made sure we didn’t feed him to sleep and he always slept in his bed and not on us. All was going swimmingly until he was 2½ months old and he contracted Sepsis and Meningitis.
A combination of the traumatic experience, the serious illnesses and us being over-protective meant we were soon back in the realms of not sleeping and we haven’t managed to get him back into a good sleeping routine since.
The major difference this time round is I know that it will get better, I can manage on limited sleep and that my children will be just fine.
With Lukas, I spent far too much time reading articles on how much sleep my child should be getting and how limited sleep would affect his development and intelligence; this is rubbish. Also on the subject of things worth ignoring, would be other parents who tell you their child sleeps ‘”seven hundred hours a night” (also ignore the urge to punch these people in the face, this will not help matters in the long run) or those who thrust upon you sleep techniques.
We personally could never let our children ‘cry it out’, it hurt our hearts too much, especially with Matthias who we have witnessed crying through more IV infusions, lumbar punctures, scans and medical procedures than anyone should ever have to experience.
My boys are bright, inquisitive and most of all happy. I do miss the days of uninterrupted sleep but for now we will be living by the motto ‘SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK’
You can read more from Natalie on her blog here: www.natandherboys.com
NB: all authors words are her own and Belo + Me do not encourage co-sleeping.