Five Thoughts to Sustain You When Your Baby Doesn’t Sleep Through the Night
“He’s been sleeping through since 6 weeks”. My jaw dropped and my heart sank. I thought a baby that slept all night was a mythical creature- like a unicorn, or an Au Pair. I wanted to be happy for her, truly I did, but those words stung. I made mental swats at the self-doubts that began buzzing around my mind. I was coping with our sleep situation in my own way, but I was jealous.
My own little bundle was a fully-fledged night owl, waking up to ten times a night for months. Now 20 months, I can still count the times he’s slept through on my hands. He is wonderful, but he doesn’t sleep through the night. If I said I wouldn’t have it any other way I’d be lying, but there have been many opportunities for me to grow along this road.
Whatever the reason, sometimes babies just don’t sleep.
Here are five seeds to plant when the nights are long.
You Can Be Needy
Asking for help is difficult. I’m a capable woman, but do I actually want to be a solitary rock, a lonely island? The minimal sleep experience has been a loving nudge (ok, sometimes more of a humbling shove) towards vulnerability with those around me. When I accept help, I show the people I love that I value what they do for me- that I need them. Accepting help can bless the giver as well as the receiver!
It’s OK to Prioritise Your Own Sleep
I have a love/hate relationship with the advice, “Sleep when the Baby Sleeps”. Don’t get me wrong, this is GREAT advice. If I was a logical robot with predictable thoughts I would follow this advice 100%. But I am not logical. I am human.
Yes, sleep is needed – but so is eating, showering, and whatever else you need to do to stay sane. Too often I’d get caught up doing all the things and completely forget to take a much-needed nap.
My alternate piece of advice is this: “Nap like it’s first on the ‘to do’ list.”
I made it my rule to sleep at the first opportunity of the day, leaving all the things for later.
You Can Choose Thankfulness
Getting up a lot at night is brutal, but I came to appreciate the stillness and often used night feeds as a quiet prayer time. Even though I’d like my baby to sleep, his waking doesn’t cast a shadow over all the good things God is doing in my life, or the amazing reality of being here with my baby right now- even if I’d rather be sleeping. Thankfulness is the key to peaceful rooms in my heart. Keep it close. Use it often.
You Are Not Alone
Arriving home from the shops one day, I grabbed my car key and proceeded to unlock the house.
By pressing the immobilizer button.
I took the only logical course of action – posted about it on Facebook. Hilariously (and somewhat embarrassingly) it quickly became my most liked post of all time. I pre-empted comments of playful fun-poking or sympathy for my sleepless situation, but instead people were commenting about how they had done literally the same thing. People liked it because they could relate. They too had visited No Sleep Town. Every night, parents the world over are working the late shift of love. It’s a comfort to me when the night is rough to envisage that I am one part of this unseen group; one light contributing my little glow in a sea of many.
It’s Not the Aim of the Game
At times it felt like the pinnacle of mum goals was for my baby to sleep – especially when he didn’t. Thankfully, this is not the end goal.
No doubt uninterrupted sleep helps you function better, but when it comes to measuring the quality of your parenting, your baby’s sleep patterns contribute precisely nil. A full night’s sleep is not the finishing line; it’s a mirage on the horizon of a revolving 24 hour shift.
Love is the aim.
I know this. You know this. We are already winning.
Cat is a follower of Jesus, the tea-drinking wife of a coffee roaster and the stay-at-home mum of one busy toddler. She delights in the mingling of art and science, small and simple pleasures, wit and whimsy, and the doing of life. Her heart is to encourage. When she’s not pottering behind the scenes at Precision Coffee Roasters, you’ll likely find her eating cake, trying new recipes, making lists, or just playing – with or without a child.