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.