Sunday, 19 August 2012

Operation Sleep Through, build up and night one.

Babies wake in the night, that's what they do, that's what they are programmed to do.  Breast milk is at it's fattiest in the middle of the night and feeding then is also good for the Mother's supply.  Up to a point, I really don't mind being woken in the middle of the night by a young baby - I was prepared for sleepless nights when I had children (although The Eldest spoilt me by sleeping through the night at 11 weeks!).  Sometimes the older children wake in the night too - either they need a wee, or they don't feel well, or The Feral One has fallen out of bed or they've had a nightmare and they just need a cuddle to settle them down.  Sometimes they get into my bed with me, sometimes I get into their bed with them, it really depends on the situation and the child (The Eldest who has Aspergers is more likely to need to climb into my bed than the others do as she seems to have more nightmares).  During my pregnancy, I get SPD which, on top of the normal pregnancy bladder needs, means that I have not slept a full night for over a year and pretty much the last 6 and a half years have been broken in some way or another.  I am exhausted.  My relationship with the older children has started to suffer as I am grumpy and snappy with no sleep, not to mention The Husband, whose head gets bitten off more than it ought to really.
This last week has been a bit of a tipping point too - on holiday in Norfolk, the baby woke 2 hourly to feed.  I am sure some saintly types of mother wouldn't mind this.  Perhaps they survive better on less sleep than me, perhaps they have less children to chase about during the day, perhaps they really are just saintly.  I am NOT saintly - not only do I not cope well on so little sleep, but such frequent feeding hurts me.  If I co-sleep (as I have done in the past in an attempt to get more sleep and do when they are tiny anyway) I wake up with raw nipples from all night feeding.  Although the summer holidays are easier as I do not have to drag my weary bones out of bed for the school run, September, with it's 6.30am starts, is rapidly approaching.  So it is time for Operation Sleep Through to start.

Mostly it's common sense.  In the run up I stopped feeding The Baby to sleep during the day (sometimes she falls asleep anyway and that isn't an issue, but I no longer feed to sleep on purpose).  I also put a comforter in her cot (Spotty Rabbit) who smells of me.  She already sleeps in a blacked out room with white noise (to stop her being disturbed by the older ones), so I was confident that no light or noises were causing her to wake.  She has a fan in her room to keep her cool, so even on the hottest night of the year, she wasn't too hot.  The day before, she didn't have a lot of sleep because we were travelling back from Norfolk and she doesn't sleep well in the car, so she was definitely very ready for bed.  I also did my best to make sure that she had eaten well during the day, although with a Baby Led Weaned, breast fed, baby this is not always the easiest task!

I chose to start on a day when she was well, not teething and on the weekend so that The Husband could help with settling if needed.  I fed her at 10pm when she woke as usual and put her down to sleep.  I then refused to feed for the rest of the night.  I was prepared for it to be a truly horrendous night, but in the event, she stirred only 4 times.  The first two times she wittered for a couple of minutes, but quickly settled without me (I know it was quick on account of falling back to sleep myself!).  Then she woke twice so I went in and had to pat her back to settle her, then I went back to bed with the resolution that I would go back and pat her in another couple of minutes if she didn't settle.  She obviously did settle because I fell asleep again without having to get up.

She woke at about 6.45 this morning and wasn't hungry.  She didn't take a feed until closer to 8, so I know that she didn't wake in the night from hunger.  Today I will continue to make sure she gets plenty of grub.  She doesn't normally get too much sleep anyway, but as we are out this afternoon at a BBQ and she will get a nap in the sling instead of her cot, she will probably be pretty tired by bedtime.  I am prepared for a couple of rough nights in the next week or so, but hopefully she will stop waking when she realises I won't be feeding her.  I think as much as anything, she was ready to sleep through.  

Finally the end is in sight, here's to a good night's sleep and a rested Rosie.

And here is a quick UPDATE on how it all went.

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