The stark reality of having a newborn again…
After months of waiting in excited anticipation our baby finally arrived on the 17th of January 2015. We were surprised in more ways than one! After having a great easy labour and home birth with my first baby in 8 hours, I was expecting an even quicker, easier birth again at home with number 2! How wrong was I? Carys Beatrice Anne was a surprise in herself as we were quite sure this baby was going to be a boy.
Not only that she took a very long 21 hours (due to being in a transverse face presentation with a stop-start labour) before she was finally here. I had been awake for 24 hours before I finally got to bed! The sleep deprivation had officially started and I was now on the rollercoaster of life with a tiny baby who needs me 100%, with the added 100% required of me for a busy, testing, 2 ½ year old.
Early days have been great- routine from the start has been my saving grace as I can plan my day, Carys feeds and naps well, and I get time with my toddler. Nights well….. how quickly you forget those nights…
The trouble with newborns is that while they do sleep a lot, they have no organised sleep. There is no notion for them that night is night and day is day, and night is when you should sleep more than day. For Carys, daytime is when you sleep lots, no matter how many wet flannels your Mum puts on your back to wake you to feed, and nights are party time! With lots of milky cocktails if you please. I have learned now that I don’t have sleepers.
Sleep is something I need to teach my babies- they aren’t those sickeningly easy babies that you see sometimes who seem to conform quite well to their mothers need for sleep at night, and at 7lb6oz the weight isn’t there for early good night sleep. And I will admit Id far rather a baby who napped well and wasn’t terribly unsettled in the evening but who may wake a couple of times in the night over the opposite for the sake of an exhausted long stretch at night.
Nights in my house always seem to start well, and no matter how hard I try to suppress it and expect the worst- there is always that glimmer of hope that tonight may be the night where I get that glorious 4 solid hours (preferably from 11pm until 3am- but hey beggars can’t be choosers right?). But each night, at around 11.30pm, and again usually at 4.30am, the harsh reality that the sleep I so desperately need has not happened. I have one of those babies that likes to mess with your head a little just for kicks- when I’m at my most fragile it seems. She’s just had a good feed, pooped with all her might and changed, then snuggles into your shoulder after an almighty burp or two.
Yes I think to myself- she’s good to go down again! But just as you get to reswaddling, she starts squirming and screwing up her tiny face. So you give her more time… more cuddles while positively checking in to enjoy that moment you know you will look back on and long for again. Finally she is close to drifting, so you pop her into bed on her side, a little pat to continue to calm, onto her back, and she’s quietly blinking her dark eyes drifting off to sleep.
I crawl back into bed, check the time, turn the torch on my phone off (thinking to myself no- there’s no such thing as jinxing!) and snuggle down with one eye and one ear open. Its quiet, we are all good. I find myself close to deep sleep and suddenly I am pulled awake with that sinking feeling from my stomach.
Dammit she’s awake! I check the time again- 20mins have passed. I lay there for a few seconds listening- in case she is just making a little noise before going off again. Nope. Dammit I’m up. I think to myself now what? What would I say as a consultant? I try some shush pat (a method I have yet to fail with to settle a newborn), little monkey fights. I pick her up in case of wind. Nope. More shush pat with a little more vigor and commitment this time. Nope these little eyes just blink sideways at me, and she starts to howl. Argh! Last resort she must still be hungry there’s nothing else for it. Back on the boob.
A few sucks and she drifts again. This baby really likes to take the piss! Then the ominous squirm starts… and another nappy is filled. And we are back at square one unswaddling, into dim room to change, more cuddles, more boob, more cuddles, haphazard attempts at burping. Now she’s been up for 1.5 hours and is getting more and more tired. Finally after attempt number 5 we are out. Its 12am. Im shattered.
But again that sneaking hope pops up that surely after all that milk we will get 4 hours? I drift off with the thought that tomorrow night I get serious, we are shush patting to sleep the first time even if I’m there for 20mins. After what seems like a good few hours I’m pulled from sleep with the familiar squirming and squawking from the bassinet at the end of the bed. I check the time. Its 2am…. 2 hours since settling. My hopes are dashed and even more shattered than before I’m up again for round 2, yet still ever hopeful that we will be down again by 3am and I might, just might, get that 4 hours!
This will pass right?