Feeling alone when your child just won’t fall asleep? You’re not.
It was 3am and there was insistent knocking on the door.
As I struggled to open it in the strange hotel room I was confused to see a man in a suit with a lapel badge saying Night Manager on it.
“Sorry Ma’am we’ve had complaints about the baby crying. Do you think you could keep it down a little.”
Your f***ing kidding me. Keep it down? What do you think I’ve bloody well been doing? I silently fumed saying none of it. I was too busy crying.
“Here you go” I said through the tears as I handed him my baby. “You try. I’ve been trying for seven months and nothing I can do to make him stop.”
The manager, stunned to be holding a screaming seven-month old before a wild-eyed bawling milk stained mother quietly handed him back and fled.
Eight months later my second son finally stopped crying.
I don’t know the reason things got better. It was a combination of being older I guess, of his reflux medication working and the fact that I caved in completely and allowed him to sleep on top of me (literally) every night.
15-months of my baby crying for hours and hours at a time nearly broke me. Memories of it are hazy. It was a shock right to the core after scoring an ‘easy’ baby for number one.
But no matter how hard it seems and how alone you feel when you are wrung dry with exhaustion there is always someone out there suffering along with you.
Not that it seems so at the time.
A recent study has shown that dealing with a crying baby causes new parents each to lose 970 hours of sleep during their child's first year – and that Mums typically lose 23 minutes of sleep more than Dads.
(We already knew that bit right?)
It adds up to 40 nights of sleep. Gone. Never to be regained.
Makes you cry doesn’t it?
40 nights of walking hallways and rocking cradles. 40 nights of shushing and patting and singing ridiculous made-up lullabies.
40 nights of lost dummies, and sterilizing and desperately feeling around in the dark for that missing soother.
40 nights of swaddling and re-swaddling in every possible way. Of trying blankets, and sleeping bags and tightly-tucked sheets
A cool room, a heated room, a breeze, some white noise.
40 nights goggling colic and reflux and lactose intolerance.
40 nights of cracked nipples and lost breast pads and organic/ allergy free/ soy/ dairy/ yak milk formulas, of trying each and every bottle on the market and in the darkest hours smashing one in the sink in frustration only to leave a chip there forever to remind you of those numbing days.
40 nights of trying anything and everything to stop the incessant, relentless, heartbreaking wails.
40 nights of taking out car seats and using them as quasi-cots, of driving the streets, or lugging prams up flights of stairs to wheel up and down the hallway so as not to wake the toddler.
You think you will never survive it don’t you?
But you will.
There will be a day when those memories – those nights of driving the streets, and pushing the pram are forgotten buried under layers of homework and soccer timetables and work deadlines.
It wasn’t a great surprise to read that 93% of parents in the study admitted to resorting to driving the streets in an attempt to soothe their baby. But what was surprising was that research has shown 15% of tears are due to teething.
If only someone had told me that four years ago.
If you are right there in the midst of that bone aching exhaustion I get you.
I know that you would try anything and often nothing but time will help.
Just remember – it gets easier and in only a few years time you will have successfully blocked out all the memories and you’ll remember the good bits with a smile.
Was your baby 'easy' to get to sleep?
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