A few short years ago I remember telling friends I was ‘exhausted’ after another night out filled with laughs and a few too many vodkas. I was tired because I had gone to bed at 2am and had to get up for a family breakfast at 8am. How was I going to survive on a mere six hours sleep?!
Everyone has the right to complain about being tired, but as a childfree 28-year-old I could slink off post brekkie to have a leisurely afternoon nap. Now as a mum of two, I might get the odd 10-minute nap on the sofa, but mostly I just drink more coffee, wear more concealer and get on with it.
My second son is nine months old and a real beauty, but sleep this year has been something of a luxury. Four hours in a row? We are nailing it! Only two wake-ups last night? Legendary! My expectations have changed quite a bit, I still crave sleep but I’m getting a whole lot less than I used to.
I am essentially always tired. Sometimes ridiculously, mostly just low-level sleepy, and while it is normal at this stage of life, it doesn’t mean it is okay. For me – it is the hardest part of parenting.
True sleep deprivation is literally a form of torture and as any new mum will tell you, those bad nights sure as hell feel torturous. I know because I have just survived the newborn phase, various sleep regression phases, some fevers, colds, teething and it’s all awful.
I’m sure that all parents can relate to that sinking feeling of hearing the start of a baby’s cry at 11pm, 1am, 3am, 4am or all of the above. At first you hope you might be mistaken but wait, nope that was definitely him.
You prise open your eyes and hear it again, it starts slowly and sounds just like a bit of whingeing. Maybe he’ll go back to sleep you think. It stops for two minutes, you start to close your eyes and then BAM there it is again, and this time there is no doubting it. "Sweet Jesus here we go again" you think, and up you get.
Every night I try to be positive about how I will handle baby wake ups and my husband and I take it in turns to go in to settle him down. The evening passes by relatively uneventfully with the occasional squawk while we watch Netflix and eat chocolate. We creep into bed around 9pm ever hopeful that tonight he will sleep through, or even just sleep well for a few hours in a row.