The sleep deprived Mombie

“Kiss your children good night, even if they are already asleep” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Oh how I’d love to do that! Maybe with the older two, yes you can manage to tuck them in and give them a little kiss. A baby? No. A baby that is testing your survival skills? Most certainly not. I don’t know where I heard the word Mombie coined first but it’s the most accurate description of what I have been going through. I got 2 hours broken sleep Saturday night and I was up from 5am. I don’t know where I found energy from (crisps and chocolate) but I managed to get through the day full of beans! It’s amazing how little sleep you can actually survive on.

As I type this my sweet angelic little baby girl is giving out from her cot. She’s not crying, she is merely making sure her voice is heard. She is not difficult to settle in the evenings but she wakes at night, a hell of a lot. I’ve tried it all, sleep training, cuddling, feeding but it’s all fruitless. I long for a good nights sleep. I have to say my patience is phenomenal with Baby. My other 2, I was more like a drill sergeant. They had to sleep, they weren’t getting a bottle and I let them cry it out.

Son

I had all the time in the world for my son as a baby. He was an only child (for about 5 minutes) and my husband was working nights when he was a baby so the evenings and bedtime were just me and him. He was my first and therefore I did everything the books or my mother told me to do. I also listened to what I should be doing, in other words, if someone said that he should be sleeping through the night, I would desperately panic over the fact that he wasn’t and get down to “fixing” him. What a deluded idiot I was. My sister has a baby a few months before my son was born and I felt the constant comparisons. The best thing was though that he was a bloody amazing eater. You could feed him forever and he’d keep going. But sleep? Nah, sure what baby needs to sleep?

I remember that he was just awake a lot, not crying but I’d sit in the room on the rocking chair and he would be looking over at me. He would fall asleep in 10 minutes some nights or 3 hours other nights! I believe my mistake there was being in the room. He couldn’t settle himself without me being there. So I tried sleep training, the Ferber method.

The principles are around controlled crying. Many people believe it’s a cruel technique and borderline abusive but I don’t agree. There is no mother on this planet that would let their child scream for minutes on end without running in to cuddle them. Well, no decent mother that is. Controlled crying in my opinion is the stage before it gets to those screams. The baby is giving out or doing tearless crying which is an art form! Every mother knows the limits of their children when it comes to controlled crying so you are not gonna let them get distressed. Well I’d hope not.

My son was 10 months when I decided enough was enough and I couldn’t sit in that room every night. I was losing my marbles and the sense of myself. So I researched it and I tweaked it to my needs. You are supposed to increase the waiting intervals to respond to the baby but I didn’t. I waited 5 minutes at first and then went in and tucked him in and then did the same again.

It was fucking awful. It hurt my heart, I’m not kidding. I left him and he cried for me. I remember sitting at the top of our stairs with tears pouring down my face. Was I doing the right thing? Could k handle this? If I didn’t stick to it “they” would think I’m a bad mother because my son doesn’t sleep!! I have to do it.

I can’t remember the specifics but I think on the first night he was asleep in 20 minutes. I was astonished that it had worked but also very upset. He didn’t need me. Psychotic I know! But seriously, when they do things on their own, you feel a little lost that you didn’t have a part in helping them. I went into the room and I was so quiet, I memorised every creak in his floor! He was sideways in the cot and I fixed him and left. I was expecting him to wake in the early evening but he didn’t. That night after I went to bed, you are supposed to apply the same principles. I made a massive mistake. One I will never ever forget. My husband was home from his night shift and was asleep. My son woke sometime around 4 and I started my 5 minute count. I turned off the monitor so the cries wouldn’t wake my husband. Several hours later, I woke up. I had fallen asleep after turning off the monitor and I freaked out and went running into his room. He was sound asleep. I don’t know how long he was crying for me. I ached so much and cried so hard. My baby boy wanted me and I wasn’t there. It was devastating. Needless to say I never turned off the monitor again.

After applying the principles for 3 nights, my son was settling alone and sleeping through the night. Saw what you want about this method but I think that if you apply the general principles and tweak it to what you’re able for, it could work. That was me not being a Mombie for my son anymore!!

Daughter

The sweet little princess. I know this is awful to admit but I barely remember her as a baby or her milestones. It’s probably because of the blur of chaos and that there is only a 21 month gap between her and her brother. My husband was still working nights when she was a baby so I reckon I was just so busy. I do remember her sleep habits. I used to lie on the bed with her and she used to hold my thumb stroking it until she fell asleep. I quite happily lay there every night for 2 years before I broke the pattern. It’s amazing how going from one child to another changes your perspective. You’re not focused on anyone else’s opinions, or at least I wasn’t.

I realised that it was affecting my mental health. I used to get a dinner in work but I wasn’t eating in the evenings because of it or I’d just lie there and then go off to bed once she was asleep. I know I couldn’t go anywhere with my husband working nights but I did start to feel very withdrawn. So I decided to try something I saw on Supernanny. She did this technique where you would sit on the floor next to the bed the first night and then each night after that, move a little further away. I was still in the room so she knew I wasn’t far away. Yes, she cried but 2 weeks of this and I was sitting at the doorway. She was a breeze after this. She thought, I imagine that I was just outside her door when I wasn’t. I found this technique had the least impact on the child than the Ferber method. However, my daughter was 2, my son was 10 months. I had my freedom again! I’m telling you it’s so hard escaping from the bed of a sleeping child! Her bed was so creaky and it was military precision that allowed me to move!!

I still had a minor struggle with her getting up during the night and I would give in and put her in the bed with us. I found that I wasn’t getting any sleep because she’s like a bloody octopus! She kicks off all the blankets. So I started just bringing her back to bed if she got up and she settled back no bother, because I was just outside her door 😉

Baby

I don’t know if I can write this part. She’s so difficult with sleep. There are a whole host of reasons as to why that is the case, reflux, teething blah blah blah. But she’s 11 months now and I am literally a Mombie. You’d think after having 2 other children and getting them to be successful sleepers that I would be well able to handle Baby? No I’m not handling this situation very well at all to be honest. I try to go with the flow but I break down a lot. It’s torture. I tried the sleep training thing but it’s not that she doesn’t settle on her own, that part is fine, it’s the waking at night 3 or 4 times. I give her a bottle when she wakes and she feeds herself and then I take it off her once she falls asleep. I tend to run in, give her he bottle and go back to bed, setting my alarm for ten minutes time and then going back in to take the bottle incase it leaks everywhere. I do this about twice a night. Most of the time she goes back to sleep but the last few weeks, she’s waking again. I know she’s teething since like the dawn of time but I don’t think it’s pain causing her to wake, I think it’s hunger. She’s a shite eater probably down to her reflux issues. So as I’m a hell of a lot more easy going with her than the others I just give her bottles. She’s still on 5 a day. I’m fucking mad in the head but she’s happy.

She shares a room with Daughter so I can’t have her crying in the middle of the night so controlled crying is out. She settles on her own so that Supernanny thing is pointless. Someone suggested giving her a spoon feed before bed but she is just terrible with food, she just refuses. I am driving to work fine but I get so tired when I’m in there. It’s this time of the evening, at around 8pm when I hit a wall much to my husband’s dismay. He wants to watch a movie tonight when I just want to cuddle into my PJs and snore until she wakes again.

I know this doesn’t last forever and you know it too but Christ I’m finding it challenging to say the least. I don’t know where to turn next and I’m hanging on for her top teeth to cut through and hope she sleeps then. Or when she starts walking she will be too tired to wake at night… Right? Right! Oh Lord I’m exhausted and I can’t type anymore. My bed is calling my name and it looks so inviting.

Good night

Reality Mammy x

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