Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The best bad night

As a new mum, I've had a great number of terrible nights' sleep.  When we first brought Lucas home I had been advised by the midwife to feed Lucas every two hours during the day so that he might go four hours overnight.  So I had a regular two hour alarm set to ensure that we stayed on top of it. I then went to bed at midnight and had an alarm set for 4 am and at 8am so that he was happily fed.  This lasted probably about 3 weeks and, although I don't obviously know how things would have been otherwise, I feel that this was really good advice.  I know many people could not fathom why I would wake a sleeping baby to feed him during the day but he put weight on at a great rate, was very happy when he was awake and he seemed to sleep well.  

But in these early days of feeding, changing his nappy and feeding again, this whole process would last an hour.  More often than not he would poo immediately after feeding so just as I went to change him there would be an explosion, sometimes known as a poonami.  If I was lucky this would be all over his clothes.  If I was unlucky, it wouldn't be... One night even involved waiting to see if he would poo, giving up, changing his nappy then he instantly pood in the new nappy, then continued pooing once I'd taken the nappy off, all over the second clean nappy that I was about to put on. I woke my husband up for support that night.  Fortunately this meant he was then on hand when I finally finished changing his third nappy and returning to feed him only for him to be sick, all over me.  I think that was the night we ordered the second pair of pyjamas because I was sick of washing the one pair everyday!

So two sessions of around 3 and a half hours sleep with an hour's break in the middle seemed so tough to me.  I'd never known anything quite like it.  By the end of week two I was exhausted.  But then I spoke to friends and on the whole, I think I had it easy.  One friend's baby wouldn't go back to sleep after 1.30 am - and she always looked immaculate the next day.  I just don't know how she did it.  

As he got older and I moved to demand feeding, it seemed that although the feeds in the middle of the night got a bit shorter, they were instead becoming more frequent.  I frequently survived on 5 or 6 hours of sleep with a few breaks in the night.  Around week 6 we introduced a dream feed - a feed at around 11pm that is given as a break in his sleep to enable him hopefully to continue to sleep through.  This worked brilliantly and his 2 am feed slowly became more like 3 and then 4.  By the time it reached 4am we got one less feed.  Once it had creeped up to between 5 and 6 am for a week we decided to drop the dream feed, around week 17.  To my surprise he continued to wake at the same time so that was our new routine - bedtime feed at 7.30pm, and night time feed at about 5am.  Great!  

And on the whole, things have stayed like this.  However, we've had a few slip ups - which in many ways are harder to deal with now that I've been accustomed to more sleep again. After a night out (and a few drinks) with a friend he decided to wake at 1 am, 3 am and 5 am, that was pretty rubbish!  We have had a number of strange middle of the night wakings that are unexplained - teething, hunger, growth spurt, regression?? 

But last night was by far the strangest.   He woke at 3.20 am.  I let him gurgle and whinge for about 20 minutes but then gradually it became crying.  So I looked in on him.  The moment I opened his bedroom door he fell silent.  I went in to his room and found him grinning from ear to ear.  What??? Well how do I resolve this?  Because when he cries normally we try and resolve it, put some music on to settle him down so he can drift back off, apply teething gel, change his nappy or perhaps feed him.  But this boy was happy.  Too happy to sleep.  How can you solve that?  Make him miserable?  I must confess I'd spent 20 minutes lying in bed getting pretty damn annoyed about it.  To find he was too happy was highly unexpected.  At 20 weeks I feel I know my little boy pretty well, I understand his cries and I can, on the whole, come up with a plan, but this was unprecedented.  I knew that really I should just have to leave him to try and drift back off but I couldn't.  I put my hand on his chest to gently rock him and his little hand grabbed my little finger and his smile got bigger.  He started banging his legs up and down in the bed with excitement and trying to roll over.  So I stayed and watched.  My little boy, too happy to sleep!  I wondered what was going on in his head.  Had he been dreaming?  Had he remembered a particularly nice part of his day?! Or was he just, in that moment, pretty happy about things.  My heart was thumping with pride and love.  And then I remembered it was 3.50am and both he and I needed to sleep!  So I put his slumber buddy music on (a present from my sister and a God send) and let him drift back off to sleep.  I was less amused when he woke back at 4.20!! And 6am.

All in all I was pretty shattered this morning and I am deeply hopeful this doesn't happen again tonight.  But those few moments spent watching my little boy last night were precious and rare and I'm unlikely to forget them any time soon.  All in all, the best bad night's sleep ever!
(Lucas's first proper smile taken at 03.24 on 10.03.16)

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