I am nervous as I finally put this into writing, but at last I think we may have achieved what I thought was impossible – two kids who sleep through the night.
Before you poor parents who are still in the depths of horrendous sleep deprivation hate on me too much for making this statement, can I first add a caveat.
When I say “sleeping through the night”, I don’t mean a solid, reliable 12 hours from 7pm to 7am.
We’ve had a couple of blissful nights where this did happen, I will admit, but those are the exception rather than the norm.
Our typical morning alarm – in the form of our nine-month-old daughter – generally goes off at anytime between 4.30am and 7am.
We had one huge setback the other night when she woke at 3am.
But, I’m celebrating. I never thought I would celebrate a 4am wake-up call, but it is a million times better than the absolute hell I was suffering through for the first eight months of her life.
There is hope
I’ve been putting off writing this post for several weeks because I dare not jinx things.
But I suppose one of my main reasons for finally writing it down – other than that I love to live on the edge, haha – is that I want to let other parents know there is hope.
Because when I was at my worst, so tired I burst into tears at random times and so drained I couldn’t even read a story to my toddler, I had zero hope for things getting better.
A typical night for me with my little girl at around six months would be putting her to bed at 7pm, and then she would sleep until about 10pm. After that she would be up every two hours.
Sometimes she would wake at 3am and just not want to go back to sleep. Or she would only want to sleep on me.
It was even worse a few months before this when she was still a newborn and I couldn’t get her to go to sleep until about 10pm. Then she would wake every one to two hours.
I never wanted to co-sleep, it’s just not something I feel comfortable doing. But I understand why people do it. The utterly deflating feeling of watching time slip away in the night when you are so tired your hands are shaking is something anyone would want to avoid like the plague.
So you can see why I’m pretty thrilled at our latest sleeping routine. It’s bliss by comparison to what I was getting.
My toddler is happier too, because the noise from the bedroom next door was disturbing her sleep.
What’s the secret
The big question then is, what changed?
I’m annoyed to admit it, and I’m sorry for saying this out loud ladies, but I quit breastfeeding.
I didn’t quit breastfeeding to get my daughter sleeping through. I honestly didn’t believe it would make a difference.
But I’m afraid it has at the very least coincided with a huge change with my daughter’s sleep patterns.
Yes there are a few more things that it could be.
She’s become more established on solid food and is eating three meals a day. She also has lots of water with her meals so she’s getting plenty of fluids.
She’s also become way more physically active over the last month, rolling and crawling all around the room. It’s no wonder she’s exhausted by the end of a busy day of exploring.
It could be I was providing her with comfort in the night to help her go back to sleep, and now that she doesn’t have my nipples to use as dummies she has to find other ways to settle herself back to sleep.
Maybe she was just ready to sleep through?
Before I was forced to quit breastfeeding after an unfortunate biting incident, I fed and fed and fed during the day to try and give her as many calories as I possibly could.
Nothing made a difference until I had to stop nursing her cold turkey.
So she went straight on to three bottles a day. During the first week or so it was more like four bottles a day as we adjusted to a new feeding pattern.
She now has one when she wakes up, another about an hour after lunch and a third before bedtime.
I wonder if my youngest prefers the bottle because she can face the room while drinking. She is incredibly inquisitive and during breastfeeds would often pop on and off from feeding to check out what was going on behind her.
This possibly contributed to her only snacking to quench her thirst during feeds.
Whatever the reason, I’m happy to finally be here at this point. It’s been a tough few months for us all in the Bubble household.
I know we are likely to hit regressions, teething and all sorts of other problems in the coming months and years. But I’ll take any half decent nights of sleep that I can.
To parents who are in the thick of sleep deprivation and fear things will never get better, my words to you are:
Be kind to yourselves and each other.
Take turns to take naps in the day.
Remember this is not your fault.
Do not quit breastfeeding just because you’re worried it’s causing sleeping issues, because a lot of bottle fed babies don’t sleep either.
Try a bottle before bedtime. It could be expressed milk or formula.
This is not forever. Nothing is with small children. They change and grow all the time.
You will sleep a full six hours in a row again.