Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Who Needs Sleep?

Just when you think you have it all going well, something happens and the little ratbags change it all again.

Lily slept through quite early on, around the 12 week mark. Of course I didn't sleep through - for weeks I would wake a couple of times in the night and lie there, listening out for the call to feed. It didn't come and I think my body was finally getting used to it - there was one night I didn't wake.

And then it changed. Just like that she went back to wanting a night feed. Gone are my big long stretches even - the longest she manages now is a 7 hour period. Now that is from the start of the feed, not the start of the sleep, so even that isn't a full 7 hours. And not a nightly event either.

It is hard getting used to getting up for that feed again, just when my body had decided to believe that a full nights sleep was on the cards. I am almost feeling more tired now that I did back in the first few weeks! It doesn't help that it is getting harder to fall asleep after a wake up. If my brain isn't whirring around, then it is just hard to get that automatic drift. Boo! I had been loving the breast feeding effect of the quick to sleep hormones.

And of course napping seems less acceptable these days, and less worthwhile. I am never sure how long Lily's day naps are going to last, often they are only 45 minutes, the length of her sleep cycle. I can get a longer stretch from her early afternoon sleep at times, but that means I need to resettle her after the 45 minute wake up, so why bother trying to sleep myself?

Broken sleep is hard work for mums. It would be hard work for dads too, if they were being woken (I know not all do wake). So you have to take care of yourself! For me that does mean an occasional nap, it also means having days at home. I aim for 2 a week, although there are some weeks that I have no full days at home - they mess with both of us!

I used to have insomnia, back before Lily. There would be days of little to no sleep, and I have yet to feel as bad after Lily as I did a few times before. but it does make it harder to stay all 'happy happy joy joy'. So if I have any advice to mums suffering from sleep deprivation, it is to find something that works for you - naps, an hour resting, lying down with a book (NOT an overdose on caffeine if you are breast feeding, that can keep you baby awake when you really need to be asleep), a quiet day at home, some time for yourself when someone else is looking after baby. Find it and treasure it, because the home cannot function when the mother isn't functioning!

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