Please Sleep, but Not All Night

by Nikki Vivian January 11, 2017

baby boy sleeping on mother's  shoulders

From the day we brought our little bundle home, she slept for five-hour stretches, though never at night. In fact, bedtime for a while was 5 a.m. But it was alright, we knew she could sleep, we just needed to work on her voila! Happy rested family.

We were pretty smug about it, actually. By two months she had altered her bedtime and would sleep 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., sometimes with one wake, sometimes none. Four-month sleep regression? Pah! Not our little trooper. Five months, all good. Sometimes we would get a full night’s sleep and she was in bed by 8 p.m. Results!

Sleep strike

Then the sixth month arrived. Dear Lord! What the fudge?! Our amazing little sleeper simply gave up on sleep.

She had never been a great sleeper in the day, but that seemed immaterial when she was sleeping through the night. But by now, the world was just too exciting and she had virtually packed it in altogether. Night wakes happened every hour, and our plans to move her into her own room were replaced with reluctant co-sleeping.

Long wakeful nights with a baby clamped to my breast then became the norm. These were interspersed with brief periods of sleep as I scrunched down at the bottom of the bed so the duvet would never go high enough to cover her. Meanwhile, my poor husband clung to the edge of our king-size bed, uncovered and shivering, whilst Madam slept in starfish position in the middle.

I prayed that the so-called eight-month sleep regression would bring her back to the sleeper she used to be. Surely, it couldn’t get any worse? That was a positive at least. I bought a book on baby sleep and never read it. Who has time for that?

Who needs sleep, anyway?

Nine months into her little life, and at times I wake up and just scream into my pillow. Hang on, did I just do that out loud, because my toddler is awake now – ah!

What the hell are we going to do? Why is nothing working? But I know why. I haven’t actually tried to break the cycle of bad sleep and improve our situation.

I’ll tell you a secret. I did read a bit of that book. It promised my baby would be sleeping through the night without a single tear, and it stopped me in my tracks. The truth is, I’m not ready…

When I get into those dreary conversations with other mothers about whether our baby sleeps through the night, I get a lot of “Aw, don’t worry, it won’t last forever” and I know too well from experience that this is true. I didn’t co-sleep with my first, and I’m not ready to give up my sleepy snuggles this time. Deep down, I know this is my last. I won’t have another baby, and other than sleepless nights worrying about two teenage girls out on the town, I’ll be sleeping, soundly, next to my husband.

So I may cry to my friends about how tired I am. I might roll my deodorant onto my face instead of my armpit. I might put milk in the kettle out of sheer exhaustion, but on some level, this is what I want. Waking up in the night and holding my baby girl – just us, no one else, no disturbances. That is special.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d like some sleep, but I won’t be moving our baby out of our bed any time soon. And when she does start sleeping through the night, it will be both a joyous and sad time for me.

Or is this just the sleep deprivation making me crazy?

Nikki Vivian


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