Post natal sleep deprivation (or when will I get some sleep?) pt 2

Yesterday I wrote about lack of sleep and how I struggled in the first months after Bub was born.

I read many different books and tried many different approaches. Some were a big success, like swaddling. Some were temporarily successful, like rocking or feeding him to sleep, but perhaps in the longer term just made it tougher. Babies seem to differ but whether being driven or rocked or fed Bub has always tended to wake up wondering why his environment has changed and then sought my intervention to help him get back to sleep. We also tried, briefly, some variants on crying it out (via the Baby Whisperer). They didn’t work for us but again might for some mums and some babies. You can read all about our various trials and tribulations with Bub’s sleep here.

Looking back with a bit of hindsight what do I think I might have done differently?

Well, firstly whilst I am super proud that I exclusively breastfed for six months I wish I’d been a bit less purist about it. Whilst I know it’s important to establish breastfeeding and not rush to express I wish I’d tried it earlier than I did (around three months). When we did try it we really struggled to get Bub to have a bottle and it never seemed worth bothering to express milk he’d never drink.

This led into the second thing. I wish I’d been able to let go and bring Bub’s daddy into the equation more. I do think breastfeeding was a brilliant choice but it did create a very exclusive relationship between me and Bub. But this isn’t the whole story. Bub’s daddy is a real night owl and the ridiculous thing was that most nights I’d be dealing with a restless baby whilst he’d also be awake. Why oh why didn’t I ask him to do more? I think my super protective and control freak side came through here. Much as I wanted his help (and often resented not getting it) I also didn’t want to cede control. I wanted things doing EXACTLY as I wanted them, or I’d prefer to do them myself. Not an ideal state of affairs.

You may wonder what happened at nine/ten months when my sleep began to improve? Well, and I hate to say it, that’s when I stopped breastfeeding. Bub still woke at night for a feed, at that age twice a night on average. But it meant we could both take turns to feed him meaning I wasn’t so much a slave to his sleeping patterns. Six hours consecutive sleep was no longer a dream, it happened, regularly.

I’m definitely not saying here that it was breastfeeding that caused our sleepless nights. Whilst Bub was very young he’d have woken almost as much if bottle fed and it’d have been much harder to meet his needs and get him back to sleep with formula. But it did add to my natural control freak inclination to try to do everything myself to mean that even when I wanted help I felt I couldn’t take it.

Bub’s daddy has never read any books about baby sleep. But he knows his son and had some interesting ideas about how to get him to sleep in a caring but effective way. And you know what, they worked pretty well. I really wish I’d encouraged him to try these ideas at four months old not ten! All those hours of sleep I might have potentially got.

So there you have it, a whistlestop tour of the most sleep deprived year of my life. Sends shivers of fear and apprehension down my spine to even think about it.

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