I’ve always loved sleep, I could literally sleep 23 hours a day and be happy (I would wake for food of course…)
I knew that sleep would be an issue with a young baby, but I didn’t think it would be too bad. My biggest worry was the Turk…he also likes his sleep. Given that on one occasion when I heard footsteps in our flat and tried to wake him up (and it took a LOT to wake him up) he turned into a monster who found it quite unreasonable to have to wake up for a burglar and said “what is it you think I’m going to do if it is a burglar…” (note: it wasn’t a burglar, it was our upstairs neighbour creeping around her own flat…) so I was a tad concerned that (a) he might not get woken up by the baby when it was his turn; (b) that he would get angry at the baby waking him up.
I needn’t have worried.
He managed to sleep through any noise the baby or I made except on 3 extreme occasions…
I didn’t do so well, the first day he was born he slept a lot so we napped together, and that first night apart from mad screaming to try and feed he slept pretty well too, admittedly with me on my hospital bed (of course with mandatory nighttime leakage…this was to become my friend over the coming months). Our first night at home he slept a straight 6 hours (not a good thing…but lovely) before he fell into his routine…
Routine = good…?
No, Jem’s routine was to nap after every feed for about 20-30 minutes. Only on me, he would wake as soon as he was put down (which I appreciate is very very common). We would all go to bed at around half 10, I would sit up with the baby feeding and crying until 2am, when he generally fell asleep for 2 hours…then it would all start again for the day.
It was hard, much harder than I expected.
With hindsight I should have been firmer, but I had no confidence. The baby really didn’t need feeding every time he cried, he needed sleep. He was very tired. I was very tired…I cried a LOT.
At some point during the first week or so I was waiting for the 2am sleep, but he didn’t go down…it took another hour. I felt horrendous.
During the fourth week I attempted sleeping sat up on the sofa with the baby on my shoulder (I know how dangerous this is, but I was desperate, I literally hadn’t slept more than 2 hours in one go and that was only once a day!) which worked a little better, he slept longer and I could doze a bit, but it wasn’t great for my back and I was scared something might happen to him.
If I could go back and speak to myself at that time I would say “it will get a lot better…then a lot worse…then better again”. In fact I feel slightly guilty that this is the advice I give to anyone with a new baby who asks me for advice, it sounds a bit negative, but I think if you’re really down it helps to know!
I would also send Jem out with someone (literally anyone I could find, the Turk wasn’t around to do it and was pretty unwilling when he was) for an hour or two a day and give myself strict instructions to nap during that time. It would have done us both a massive amount of good, I didn’t appreciate at the time how much sleep a baby would need or should have. I assumed if they were tired they would sleep…no?!