5 Things | Non-Sleeping Babies

Ivy is totally beyond amazing at a lot of things but sadly, sleep isn't one of them. Like many babies, she slept like a little dream (pun intented) for the first couple of months - even through her OHS - but when she was 5 months old, she just decided that sleep wasn't for her. As a single parent living in a house with two people that have to get up for work everyday, and with a baby who isn't allowed to cry, my options have been pretty limited. Every time I didn't think it could get any worse, I was proved wrong and a year later, I felt trapped in an endless cycle of 'bad habits' and had convinced myself I might actually die of sleep deprivation in the very near future.

However, it has got better - not great, but a lot better and I'd like to just offer some comfort to any of the billions of mama's going through this hideous phase in your child's life. Parenting is so rewarding  but sometimes it's hard to see that when you're well and truly cream crackered. I can admit that there have been many mornings where I couldn't even face getting up let alone pretending to be overcome by excitement about going to the park and/or attempting to intereact with another person, offspring or otherwise and it's always made worse when you see how lively and energetic they bloody are! Now we've been through the worst of it (touch wood) here are of my thoughts surrounding Non-Sleeping Babies;

1. Routine
If I had £1 for every time someone suggested 'a bedtime routine' as the answer to all my problems (having been asked for advice or not) I would have more than enough money to hire someone to deal with Ivy between the hideous hours of 7pm and 7am. Ivy had been in a good (and typical) routine when her sleep regression began and for the first 3 months that routine had worked so why did she stop sleeping? I fiddled with the routine moving times and the order of play but guess what? None of it made the slightest bit of difference, despite how long I stuck at each change. Believe it or not, it wasn't until I threw the routine out the window and let Ivy rule the roost over bedtimes that we started seeing any improvement. I feel the few weeks that I let her tell me when she wanted to sleep cleaned the slate and we have now naturally fallen into a routine which suits us both.

2. You Are Not Alone
I felt a completely irrational hatred towards any mother that would tell me that their child slept well. What had I done differently to them that meant I was battling Lucifer night after night? My one very comforting strain of thought was that my baby obviously loved me more than their's loved them and the only reason Ivy wouldn't sleep is because she didn't want to miss out on any time with Mama, ahem. Truth is, all parents will go through some hideous nights with their little darling, whether they admit it or not. Introducing solids, teeth, illness and new skills are all completely normal reasons as to why a baby will stop sleeping but there are also a lot of babies who won't sleep for no prefound reason at all and you've just got to find those poor parents and seek comfort in numbers - you've done nothing wrong, you've done all you can to change it and it's just important to get through it with some sanity in tact and there is no better way to feel supported within this than with other familes who have drawn that really short straw. Post something on Instagram at 2am, I bet you'll find someone then! Or join this wonderful facebook group, which will certainly make you giggle at those moments you feel like crying.

3. Co-Sleeping
About 6 months in, I went to our GP as I was so desperate for a couple of hours uninterrupted sleep and I did ask, against my better judgement, if they could give her anything. In some ways I was pleased that the answer was no as the poor girl has enough cardiac medication pumped into her I didn't fancy adding another to the list but as I said, I was desperate. However, it was my GP that suggested bringing her fully into bed with me (she was in her cot attached to my bed before) as from his own personal experience this had improved matters before his daughter had grown out of it. I do feel it improved my sleep as it was even less effort to feed the monkey back to sleep but she didn't wake up any less. Just do whatever you feel you need to do to make your life easier, whether it's seen as a "bad habit" or not.

Ivy has finally gone into her own cot for the first stint of the night (about 7-11) and I pull her back in with me from then which I feel is the perfect balance for us at the moment. She'll typically only wake up once more and twice a night is fine with me after the horrors of every hour.

4. Self Care
I never really understood the importance of this until I became a mother, but even more so during the worst of the night time horrors. It is physically and mentally impossible to care for your babe as much as you want to if you don't take a little time out for yourself too. Forget the hoovering, washing, whatever it can wait - use that time to nap while they nap or even just 10 minutes the bath to try and relax a little. I took a long hard look at my diet for help, limiting myself to just one coffee first thing and sticking to water the rest of the day which helped so much physically but my mindset was harder to fix. I was constantly cancelling all plans, and crying night after night as I spent hours in the dark desperately pleaing with her to just go to be 'normal'. I felt unbelievably sad and so very, very lonely but I'd try and start each day positively, try and get out once a day even just to walk to the post office.  I don't think there's a magic secret in order to escape feeling down when there's no way of obtaining the shut eye you need in order to function but it will end, I promise.

5. Asking For Help
If I could turn back the clock, I would have asked for more help - persistently and sooner. I'd asked the HV early on, and then the GP as mentioned above but for months on end I suffered needlessly, convincing myself that she really would just grow out of it 'soon'. As we approached the 1 year on mark, I asked around relentlessly one last time and after a different HV came round to discuss a plan 1-1 and paying to see a Child Sleep Professional I finally felt armed with enough information to get my life back in order and get this kid to sleep. We're now in a really good place, with plans for future improvement to put in place when the time is right and I finally feel like a human being again, I feel like me again.