Well I should know. This is my second baby, and my experience with my first was full of major sleep deprivation in the first years and things have since improved substantially.
Yet I can’t help but feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel; that my son will never ever sleep the night, that I am resigned to a life of dark bags under my eyes and not ever being able to leave my child overnight to go on holiday or something.
I also feel guilty. Is it my fault? Should I have left him cry it out? Would that have made my life easier? Why won’t he eat what I want him to eat before bed? Maybe that would fill him up and he wouldn’t wake up. But how do you force-feed a very strong-willed child? Both my children are strong–willed, I guess they couldn’t escape the gene since both their father and I have strong characters.
People have so many opinions – they blame it on breastfeeding. They tell me I should give him a big bottle of milk before bed. Yet my daughter was not breastfed and she still wouldn’t sleep the night until the age of 2 (plus he WON’T take a big bottle of milk). So what is the answer?
One of my friends recently said “Oh motherhood is not tough” I looked at her with disbelief. Is she serious? Her child is not even a year old yet and she is saying that motherhood is a breeze. So is it me? Am I the one who is making this whole motherhood gig difficult for myself? Maybe it is because I work? Though I am blessed enough to be able to work flexibly and I give ample quality time to my children. Maybe I am too attentive? Do I worry too much? I don’t know.
I asked this friend how she does not feel tired with all the sleep deprivation, and she said that she is not sleep deprived. Her baby has slept the night practically since she was born. I mean they actually had to wake her to drink in the first weeks!!! I mean seriously. My first born did not sleep – literally for the first 3 months.
Then again I feel guilty – I feel guilty for complaining – I have beautiful, healthy, sweet children and here I am complaining about lack of sleep when there are sooo many bigger problems in the world. Yet I wonder how, if sleep is such a fundamental need for humans, why is it that when you have children the first thing to go is sleep? (for most parents).
I sometimes feel that we, as mothers do not talk enough about how taxing the lack of sleep can be. Why didn’t our own mothers warn us about this? Maybe it is because we are having children at an older age these days and when they had children in their 20’s they could handle the sleepless nights better? Or maybe it is because with time, we forget about the tough times and remember the good times? Or even better, they knew all along how tough it would be on us, but just didn’t want to scare us off the whole idea of becoming mums.
One thing is for sure, some solace from other fellow mums, telling us we are not alone, does help make the whole “not sleeping” phase a little bit more tolerable.