After I was awarded my PhD in Sleep Deprivation, I threw the rule book out the window.
It did, however, take until my second pregnancy to grow the confidence to trust my motherly instincts. I was a scared first-time mum trying to follow all the rules and present a ‘together’ facade, because showing any sign of struggle made me feel like I was failing. Especially when it came to sleeping.
Watch: How to get a newborn baby to sleep. Post continues below.
My eldest was a tricky baby to get to sleep. Bath, warm tummy massage to help with her gas, book, bottle, cuddles, pats, rocking, noise machine, lullabies, quick kiss goodnight from Mary Magdalene, a sprinkling of Holy Water, and a performance from the 12 Dancing Princesses.
I’d do whatever it took to get that little bundle off to sleep, until I realised I was doing it ‘wrong’. Anything more than feeding and putting her into the cot ‘drowsy but awake’ after her bath was always met with a shake of the head because "you need to stop creating bad habits and spoiling her”.
I would Google, read books, ask the clinic nurse, ask Facebook - I would have asked a damn rock if it would respond to me. The only feedback I seemed to get was steering me towards the idea that babies were textbooks that just needed to be trained.
Eventually at six months we bowed to pressure and introduced sleep training, because if they’re not sleeping through by six months, it means something’s wrong with either your baby or your mothering skills and you need to fix it.
Well, I hated it.
We fired the 12 Dancing Princesses and asked Mary to only come back during visiting hours. After her bed routine we’d pop her into the cot and creep out of the dark room. Every five minutes we’d return to calm her, then leave again. Then repeat.
Remember how I said I hated it? Seriously, I HATED it. It went against everything I thought I should offer as a mother. It was as though I was teaching her that parents only parent in daylight.
All because it was nighttime.