Sleep is something that doesn’t come naturally to me.
I’ve never been comfortable with taking all those hours “off”. I always feel like I’m missing something somewhere if I succumb to the night.
It was a steadfast diet of caffeine that got me through my twenties and early thirties.
And then I had a baby.
Sleep for me took on a greater importance.
As did caffeine.
My tiny breech baby was born at 36 weeks.
A little early. A little small. But infinitesimal perfect. He got his dark hair from his father, his eyes from his grandfather, and his nose and insomnia from me.
“Babies + sleep + week one”.
My first-time Mother first Google search.
“Babies + sleep + awake all day”
My first-time Mother Google search.
My first-born son broke the criteria for baby sleep from day dot. Not only did he not sleep during the night, he didn’t sleep during the day.
He didn’t catnap and wake up -that was my third born.
He didn’t scream the house down and writhe in pain -that was my second born.
He just didn’t sleep.
(Well it felt like ever.)
From the first day home from hospital he just started at me, with his big inky-navy eyes and his olive jaundiced skin. He just stared. Minutes went past, they turned into hours, and hours and hours. Seven hour stretches without sleep.
From Google searches, to baby books, to early childhood nurses, to chiropractors to pediatricians. I looked for answers.
The biggest problem was that it actually wasn’t a problem.
He wasn’t crying.
He wasn’t demanding attention.
He wasn’t sick.
He was just awake.
And being a first time Mum I felt like I couldn’t just leave him awake.
Firstly there was the fact that he was meant to sleep, wasn’t he? And secondly there was the guilt. What was he thinking? Wasn’t he bored? Was it my fault he was awake? (I mean I did drink a lot of coffee when I was pregnant) I felt like I had to entertain him.
So we went out A LOT. We did baby story time and gymbaroo and swimming lessons and playgroups and music time and baby art classes (who actually thinks up these things? Baby art classes for a six-month old. What was I thinking?)
He was over scheduled and over stimulated and I was getting over it.
We had long nights together of watching Kim and Khloe Kardashian. We walked, we swayed, we cuddled, we fed. But he still never slept more than a few hours at night without waking up, and during the day he simply didn’t nap.
Life was pretty good for me. I was one of the lucky ones. I had suffered a long-term eating disorder during my twenties, with years of exercise induced anorexia fueling my obsessive career building.