Sleep changes over time

When Loudboy was a small baby, I was frequently driven to tears by his sleeping habits: waking every two hours, or every hour and a half, feeding constantly.  Now I feel differently about it, but his sleep patterns haven’t changed much (sorry for all those mums with younger babies). At nearly 11 months he is still waking at least twice a night, usually more, but I am no longer crying at 3am.  Why?

1. Hormones.  Sleep deprivation is hell in the early months because you’re still recovering from the birth, adapting to a new baby and dripping with hormones.  Plus (unless you’re really lucky) you’re also stressing about breastfeeding/weight gain/when to start solids and all the other palaver that goes with a tiny baby.

2. Time.  At 2 or 3 months, the idea of another 6 months or a year (or even another fornight) of broken nights is soul-destroying.  The good news is it doesn’t kill you.  You even get used to it.  I have found I can function pretty well on a broken night, though I am lucky enough not to usually have to deal with long periods when Loudboy is awake.  And I used to need at least 8 hours of unbroken sleep.

3. Expectations.  I spent months hoping that this night Loudboy would sleep through, or even sleep for an extra hour.  If he managed a better night, I considered sacrificing chickens to make it happen again.  I thought that if only he would sleep, things would be so much better.  I thought there was a magic solution I hadn’t found that would solve all our problems.   I would be anxious every evening, depressed or elated every morning.  Now I take one night at a time.  If it’s a good night, great.  If it isn’t, I know it doesn’t mean that tomorrow night will be bad as well.

Loudboy does manage some good nights (last night was one, which explains my cheery attitude today) but I have accepted that he will have bad nights as well.  He may still be having bad nights in a year’s time.  And do you know what?  We will be fine.  I may forget my name occasionally, but would I swap Loudboy for a sleeping alternative?  Not often.


9 Responses to Sleep changes over time

  1. amberjee says:

    Yeah, we love them like crazy even though they keep us up. This non-sleeping thing is such a integral part of the Imp’s lovely little personality, that he almost wouldn’t be himself if he actually slept properly! I cried a lot when the Imp only slept 1.5 hours at a time or worse. Maybe it’s because I was adjusting to being a mum, or maybe it was the sleep deprivation, or probably a mixture of both. But now, I feel so much more confident about things. The Imp has settled. But then so have I.

  2. swizzler says:

    It does add weight to the argument that they are training us, rather than the other way around!

  3. finngarianmama says:

    OH did I suffer when Baby Boo was younger… After 3 months of really screwed up sleep, I came down with strep throat, then a week after I finished antibiotics, it was back… then after the second course was done, I still wasn’t better and found out I had mono. I NEVER used to be sickly like that but I know it’s from not enough sleep/too much stress. And it wasn’t like Boo would be awake, she’d be awake and screaming. From 1-4 am. I stopped dairy, I tried keeping her awake more during the day, you name it, I tried it. Nothing worked but time, and eventually she grew out of the screaming. Now she has traded that in for waking up trying to crawl.

    My son was much, much worse, though, minus the screaming. Now he is almost 3 and he sleeps great, 12 hours at a time. I want to barf at the thought of having to do this for another 2+ years… it’s enough to make me not want more kids. 😦

    Loved the post though, there is a lot of truth to it. You forgot to mention, though, that sleep deprivation can make you psychotic. I seriously had to walk away from the baby more than once because I was so angry I was afraid of hurting her. 😦

  4. amberjee says:

    it is pretty scary what sleep deprivation can do.
    it’s hard too when it manifests in illness. i have a friend who has lost loads of weight and she just doesn’t look healthy at all, and she’s feeling terribly ill and no-one can work out what is going on. all from 11 months of such little sleep.

  5. Sleep deprivation really is the worst, for 4 months i had two children waking at least every 3 hours to be feed and of course never at the same time. All kids will start sleeping better even if it takes a few years (blah)

  6. tibsy says:

    thanks swizz for that post, really needed to read that today. feeling a bit blue after a crappy night. made me look at it slightly differently…. it will pass :- )

  7. I’m in the same boat–At 14 months old, Pitter still wakes me up at least 2 x a night to snack, and sometims an additional 2 times for…who knows. And I was an 8-10 hours a night girl prior to his birth as well. I’m functional, and each month I slowly adapt. Now instead of praying that tomorrow night will be better–and next week–and next month–I’m looking years ahead and realizing that there is something precious in him needing me now. It will go away, I will sleep again, and he will be less mine when that happens.

  8. finngarianmama says:

    Westwardbound, you are definitely right… they will eventually grow out of this. My son was a much worse sleeper than my daughter and now he sleeps 12 hours a night plus a nap when he needs it, all by himself. He needs me to help settle, then he’s good to go. She will eventually get there too. I think we are doing them a world of good emotionally to be with them and help them through this. Hopefully they will be more secure people because of it. (((hug)))

    It’s just hard to see this when you’re in the throngs of it. I keep lowering my standards for everything else, it seems, so I can cope with this.

  9. amberjee says:

    I like when I watch the Imp now and he’s all confident, independent and happy entertaining himself. I remember when he would NOT be put down for a second when he was tiny, and I think I did the right thing, as hard as it was, by not putting him down, even though it drove me nuts at the time and I couldn’t easily have showers, or lunch, or sleep, and things like that. Sometimes you’ve got to ride these things out. Yes, it will get better! Your son gives us hope Finngarian!

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