I’ve reached a bit of a breaking point with sleep. Or should I say exhaustion. Since Elijah hit the four-month sleep regression (3 months' ago) it’s been pretty hard-core. Waking up every half an hour/max 2 hours. Not settling without me - and only settling with me. Then the past three weeks with Elijah having an ear infection and Rafe being poorly too, I’ve been getting 3-4 hours broken sleep a night. And honestly – without sounding dramatic, it is taking its toll. Some nights I don’t even remember how many times they wake up, I just know I wake up with sand in my eyes and a vague recollection of it being a rough night. There have been many head in hands moments, tears and – “I honestly can’t do another night like this again.” I'm just running on empty now. I'm just exhausted. I’ve tried a bit of sleep training with Elijah but have given up. I didn’t realise he was poorly so probably was not the best time to try. I’ve had many people recommend different things (THANK YOU), from controlled crying, the Cheshire Baby Whisperer, just doing whatever works - and another lovely mum sent me some info on the sleep sense programme which I tried. Basically had to stay in the room with Elijah but not settle him to sleep, sit with him while he settles. But I think me being in the room with him and not settling just made him more upset. I was going to try and just leave him to ‘cry it out’ – but I just don’t know whether I can do that as honestly I think he would cry for hours. Plus, his cry is honestly like a drill going through a wall so not sure my neighbour’s will like me much if I try that one! I did remind myself that I tried the Little Ones programme with Rafe and although I know it has worked for other people, it just made me more stressed out and in the end, after I tried the ‘pick up, put down’ method with Rafe at around four-months which kind of worked - then at around 6-7-months, he did just naturally start sleeping better. And now, unless he is ill he does sleep through and has done on and off since he was 1ish. I’m hoping it will click with Elijah too, I know sometimes it's just time but I go from 'just do what you can to settle him for now, it will happen when he is ready to - oh my fucking God, I need to do something to get him to sleep better. To - I am so lucky I get to cuddle him to sleep, that he feels safe next to me - to oh flip your bloody lid I need to just let him cry it out. To I can't leave him to cry, he's so little - to HELP ME NOW I NEED SLEEP. I NEED 5 MINUTES ON MY OWN.' I was reading a bit of The Gentle Sleep Book and it goes into a lot of detail on safe co-sleeping and to be fair, the past two nights if Elijah is by me, I have managed to get a 4-hour stretch in at some point in the night. I guess I don’t really know what to do - as you can probably tell. I guess we are all just doing whatever works for us – whatever it takes to get some sleep. Elijah still isn’t in his own room yet as we need to decorate it, so maybe once he is in his own room it may get better. Or maybe not. I realise I am probably not making much sense here but the fact I have written 400+ words and not fell asleep is a win for me right now. So I don’t know whether to just do what I know will get him to settle (in bed with me/boob) and hope that he will just start sleeping better himself – or try some ‘sleep training’ again. It’s just hard as so much conflicting advice and once you have read it all you end up more confused and exhausted when you started and you can’t believe you are stressing out this much about sleep. But when you are inhaling coffee from 5am, you get a bit desperate. Thank you for everyone’s advice along the way –I really appreciate it. It’s good to know that I have many other mums joining me at the 1am club, the 2am club, the 3am club….
So poorly children. It came all at once last week. Ear infection for Elijah (had antibiotics but still rubbing his ear) and Rafe’s cough and cold turned into a hospital visit and back on his inhaler. I have lost count how many times we have been in A&E now. I feel a bit lost with it all as every time we go, we are either admitted, he is given a nebuliser, steroids – or monitored and needs to be given his inhaler. And it is mostly a ‘some children are more susceptible than others’, or ‘some children tend to grow out of this’ I hear from the doctors. But I kind of want an answer as I just feel like, why is this happening to Rafe? I guess I just feel sorry for him as he never seems to catch a break in the winter. And you have the old mum guilt wobble of – am I doing something wrong? I think the next time we have to go (hopefully not anytime soon), I’m going to ask in more depth about why this is happening, what could cause this – I might just get the same answers but it’s just a worry. Having to sit up in the night counting his respiratory rate, paranoid about his breathing – every time someone has a cold your heart just sinks because you know if Rafe gets it, he could end up in hospital. The doctors have said this does not mean he has asthma and I’ve mentioned before I apparently had a cough at night till I was 4 and they thought I could have asthma but I grew out of it. Hoping for the same with Rafe too. They both have a nasty cough now so it does just feel like a never ending circle of colds, coughs and winter bugs. Roll on summer.
I need to start thinking about going back to work. I just want to cry at the thought. With Rafe my maternity leave flew by but with Elijah I have blinked and he is 7-months. Like what the flip? Same with my pregnancy, with Rafe it felt like an eternity between every scan and appointment but with Elijah it was like oh I’m pregnant, blink – he is here. I’m probably just being hormonal but I just feel like I haven’t had as much quality time with him but it’s hard when you have a toddler to entertain/stop from eating mud. I need to also start thinking about trying him with a bottle again and potentially dropping feeds in preparation for going back but I just can’t even think about that either. I’m just as emotional as I was about going back to work with Rafe but I can’t bury my head in the sand much longer. Just need to crack on with the lottery and scratch cards and hope for the best!
When I was pregnant with Elijah I was worried about how Rafe would react to having a little brother. Apart from the odd moments of jealousy, or when Rafe is sitting on him and pretending he is a horse - watching them together is just wonderful. Like I said in my post on Facebook and Instagram - the little moments they're together - when Rafe kisses Elijah or Elijah's (or Little Oz as Rafe calls him) face when he sees Rafe in the morning - it lights up. Every morning when Rafe wakes up I can hear him saying 'mama, Little Oz' and it's just the cutest thing. It can be hard having two so close together but I wouldn't change it. I can't wait to watch their bond get even stronger.
I really wish I could keep up with the weekly blog posts as I leave it so long and forget half of what I have to say. I just want to say thank you to everyone who still follows me, who messages me, who makes me feel like I’m not the only sleep-deprived woman in the country!
Till next time,
Sleep pre-kids in your 20's: Late nights, late mornings. Wake up with kebab on your boob just in time for Hollyoaks omnibus.
Sleep in 30's with kids: You close your eyes in hope but don't actually sleep. One boob is always out. 6am is a lie in and Mr Tumble and a toddler poking you in the face shouting 'garlic bread' is your alarm clock. You are adamant you are divorcing your husband at 3am if he snores one more time. Just me?
Rafe is at Harry Potter Studio with his dad and fam today. Travelled down to London yesterday. Obviously I wanted to go but thought it would be too much for Elijah, especially as he hates being in the car! I have been a little anxious all weekend, even though I know Rafe will have an amazing time.
Before kids I was very much like 'I'm going to be a relaxed mum, be able to leave them with grandparents for sleepovers, go away without them...' where in reality that couldn't be further from the truth. Rafe hasn't stayed out much at all, (me breastfeeding him for 17-months was of course one big reason) and it's not because I don't trust him with grandparents, they're amazing. I just get anxiety being away from him at night/longer than a day. I've never been overly anxious - a worrier but not an anxious person. And I don't know whether this relates to my birth trauma (with both) and PTSD or whether I was always going to get some anxiety being away from the kids for certain lengths of time. I also get irrational thoughts connected to this anxiety too (e.g. worried about the car journey down - what could happen). But I can rationalise these thoughts. I don't think I need 'help' with this anxiety, it just has its moments, it's not an everyday occurrence.
Also, I don't know whether because we have never really got into a routine of having Rafe stay out sometimes (breastfeeding/husband away a lot/pregnant/Elijah arrived) that I don't even contemplate it. I know it is normal and healthy to have time away from your kids and trust me there are nights I am like - GET ME OUTA HERE. But sometimes the reality of taking a step back is harder than it seems. And with Elijah still exclusively on the boob, it's not like I could have had a 'night off' recently anyway! Guess I just sometimes worry people judge me because I don't necessarily jump to have a night apart from the kids. (I don't ever judge anyone that does!) But I guess I've tried to explain it a little here. Or maybe I haven't really explained it all. 🙈 Does anyone else feel the same?
Been lovely to have some one on one time with the sleep thief though. ❤ Will try and get a 'proper' blog post out soon! 😘
Royal Marine Wife. Mum to Rafe.