My baby does not sleep. This was grimly foretold by my midwife, who, upon hearing that I was being kept awake with a nightly somersaulting routine looked me dead in the eye and said 'don't forget, they're the same baby on the outside that they are on the inside'. Oh.
Of course, in the early days, I had naïve optimism on my side.
Well, if at six weeks she can go for a four-hour stretch, well then just another few weeks it will be five, then six and seven and sure then I'll be laughing! Ha, is right. Nine months in and that day has yet to come.
I have become a sleep connoisseur; intimately acquainted with the many flavours of sleeplessness to be sampled. First, there's the taking a long time to go down. Then there are frequent wakings. Then there's staying awake for long periods during the night. Nap refusal. Only sleeping in certain places under certain precise conditions. There's general unsettledness. Early wakings. Nightmares. Dodie runs. Day/night reversal. It goes on.
Sleep deprivation is cruel. If you haven't experienced real, raw sleep deprivation, it is like being drunk, hungover and severely jetlagged at the same time. Coupled with the responsibility of looking after an infant. I cannot stress enough how bad and how serious sleep deprivation is. It amazes me to think how many people are out there in the world acutely sleep deprived. Going about their business, working, looking after their kids, operating heavy machinery.
I've heard every reason under the sun to explain her lack of zzz's. She's going through a developmental leap. Teething. Not in a routine. Too hot. Too cold. She's not on solids. She's breastfed. She's bottle-fed. She's too intelligent. She should sleep beside you. She should sleep in her own room. I'm feeding her too much and too little. That food doesn't agree with her. She's got wind. Grobags and blankets and nightlights and white noise machines. I have heard it all and this is the bottom line.
When all her little atoms and molecules and cells and DNA and bits and pieces came together and she was magicked into being, she was not made to be a sleeper. No amount of routine, solids or white noise machines can change that. She was made an alert little person who is too busy conducting her detailed investigations to waste time with sleeping. And she's perfect just the way she is.
While routines and baths and scented baby oils have not helped, what has helped is the following. Accepting what is. Self-compassion. Self-care. Asking for help and taking it. Being where I am. Accepting her for where she is. Breathing. Reminding myself that everything is a process. Everything is temporary. Everything is a phase. That doesn't mean we have to give up trying but too often we heap suffering on top of difficulty by wrestling and grappling and failing to accept what is. And for the moment what is for me is a lack of sleep. Zzz.