If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about babies it’s that everything can change in a moment. There is no long term routine. Every time you get used to how things are, they change again.
No matter how well you know this, it will still catch you out as a parent. You may know things can change in an instant, but there will be a time where you let yourself get a little too comfortable when a good thing’s going, and then bam, everything shifts.
The ever changing ‘routines’ of babies is difficult for anyone to cope with.
Pickle began teething properly around 2 weeks ago. Coincidentally only two days before we were about to go on holiday (sounds about right!). Whilst we were away she slept really well, she had powders and Calpol when needed but mainly we were so busy that she was too shattered to wake in the night.
Since we got back it’s gone downhill. Her teething has gotten worse. There are many symptoms of teething – chewing everything; dribbling tonnes; flushed red cheeks (which is quite adorable); they rub their faces, tug their ears; get grizzly and upset; they often get super cuddly (also adorable); and of course they can start to wake loads in the night, resulting in disturbed sleep for baby and parents alike.
I know I shouldn’t have let myself get attached to any routine, but I accidentally did. I got used to getting more sleep. Now that Pickle is teething, and my sleep is impacted once again, things are feeling tough. It’s a shock to the system when your baby finally starts sleeping through the night, only to suddenly go backwards and start waking frequently again.
The night before last Pickle woke a few times, tonight she’s woken loads. I’m writing this at 1am and already she’s woken 6 times since I put her down at 8. All she wants to do is cuddle up to me, which is adorable and lovely and I kind of love it but also it means that I don’t get any sleep. If she’s cuddled up to me I am 100% awake.
Every time she wakes upset I pick her up, rock her, stand swaying for anything from 5 to 15 minutes, until she’s asleep and I can put her back down (a routine I’m sure any fellow parents are very familiar with!). Sometimes I have to repeat this process 2 or 3 times.
It’s exhausting, both physically and mentally. It’s one thing to be woken regularly, but a whole other thing to go from resting or trying to sleep to jumping out of bed and having to move around, over and over and over again. And of course if she’s waking that frequently, it leaves me with bugger all chance to really sleep by the time I’ve settled her back down.
I find myself terrified to try to sleep because that horrible feeling of being woken as I drift off feels so much harder than just staying awake. Obviously that’s counterproductive in the long run.
It’s unnatural to have your routine shifted so suddenly, and it’s intense to have a 24 hour job where you get pretty much no rest time at all.
There’s also the part where as parents we want to do things ‘right’. I’ve worked so hard on our routines and I know that the ‘right’ thing to do for them is to not bring her in to my bed. But when she’s crying her eyes out and I’m absolutely shattered, and cold, from getting out of bed repeatedly, that’s all I want to do.
In a perfect world I’d manage by never bringing her in to my bed. I’d keep getting up and settling her. But it’s not a perfect world and I’m only human.
If I keep getting up all night I won’t get any sleep. I’ll be a sleep deprived mess by morning, which will impact my mental health, and all that will do is impact us both worse.
Sometimes you have to let go of doing the ‘right’ thing as a parent. Oh, how I wish it was as easy as it was typing that sentence.
So I’m writing this from my bed in the middle of the night. Pulling my hair out, trying not to cry, telling myself that it is OK that she is currently in my bed asleep next to me.
I’m trying to swallow my pride about getting absolutely everything ‘right’, stop giving myself a hard time, and remind myself that I’m only human. I’m trying to bite the bullet and attempt sleep, remind myself that the temporary fuzzy feeling of being woken up as I drift off, is better than being permanently exhausted tomorrow.
Being a single parent alone with all of this is so fucking difficult, and lonely as hell. I’m alone in the dead of night, tired, and desperate for a bit of sleep. My mental state is being tested so bad. I’m overthinking everything. It’s heartbreaking trying to console a baby who’s in pain and doesn’t understand why. I’m holding on somehow but my god can someone please come give me a hug and tell me I’m doing a good job?
I’m doing my best to ride this out. The teething phase can disappear just as quickly as it appeared, and I’m hoping so bad that happens soon.
To all you sleep deprived mums and dads out there – Y’all are fucking superheroes. Hang on in there, and I’ll see you on the other side.