I regularly see the hours of 2 am, 3 am and 4 am with my best buddy who likes to scream all night, laugh in my ear, cry over nothing and makes me carry him to bed. Back when I was 21 this would have meant an average night out at the club. Now this means my toddler son.
In his two years on this planet, we have made a record of not sleeping through the night for approximately 99% of it. I could be an extra in The Walking Dead. At this point, caffeine seems to have no effect on me. I never ever drank a single cup until the week after he was born, now I am immune.
I wonder every day how can this child possibly be related to me? Me, who needed 10-12 hours of shuteye pre-kid. Me who would sleep until noon and still complain the next day about being “tired”. Me who could nap nearly any place, anytime, anywhere.
From the day we brought our son home from the hospital on he has stayed wide-awake. There is a party called life going on and he has some serious fear of missing out, lasting long after the guests have called it a night. I have not been able to get him to reliably nap…ever.
When he turned one I decided we needed some help. The form of that help took two sleep consultants, a postpartum doula and a night nanny specialized in sleep training. Everyone tried their best to work with us, but we saw no changes. I will say the night nanny worked great, for about the 4 nights she spent in his room. Then his hardwired waking started again. Rest in peace 4 nights, I miss you terribly.
For those who are reading this hoping I have a magical solution, I apologize now. I am still deep in the struggle with irrational emotions and chronic mood swings. I am jealous of my friends who have newborns sleeping through the night. I resent my small child who only needs 3 hours of sleep and is ready to go for the day. My exhaustion creeps deep into my soul and makes me cancel plans with friends because simply making it through the day can feel like too much.
I won’t even try to offer any sleep hygiene tips. Well meaning friends offer their litany of surefire tricks: essential oils, crib aquarium, white noise machine, spa-like bath, moving bedtime sooner, moving it later, maybe he’s too hot, maybe he’s too cold, try having dad put him to bed. I have had two years of practice trying all of these things and more and I am no closer to our son meeting the Sandman.
All I can say is I am right there with you desperately trying to stay strong and push through each day. Lack of sleep steals something from you and left me stripped of my patience and zest for life. People often ask when we are having another baby. I always tell them it will be when they move in and take over the night shift.
I try to remember that he will only be little once. As tired as I am when I hear that cry in the night it is me who holds his little, scared body and rocks him quietly back to sleep. It is me who gets to nuzzle his soft hair and smell his sweet baby scent and in those moments time seems to stop.
We are simply doing the best we can with a tank on empty. Relying on the backlight of our phones to wake us up enough to go comfort our crying child. Not knowing how we are going to make it through work, school or another day at home with them but somehow doing it. Pulling energy out of nowhere and finding the physical and emotional strength to continue mothering.
I cannot wave a wand and bestow a love for snoozing on my son. What I can do though is remember that this is temporary and part of the job description of being his mom right now. I don’t know when that magical moment will happen when we are both sleeping again, but I am not wishing life away just to get there.
So keep your head up, your coffee strong and your patience high. There are so many of us making it through the day with yawns and fantasies of running away to a hotel room to sleep for a week straight. Tired moms unite. Plus they sleep a ton when they are teenagers right? Only 11 more years to go…
Are you in the trenches of dealing with a nonsleeper? How did you manage to make it through the years?