Tired: A Mother’s Lament

Tiredness is one of constants of parenting. I’m used to surviving on much less sleep than I would ever have thought possible before Petra was born. But what gets you in the end is ongoingness of it. I haven’t had an uninterrupted night’s sleep for almost five years. When I was pregnant, I had to get up in the night to pee every couple of hours. And of course, after Petra was born, regular sleep ended. Petra’s sleeping patterns were all over the place initially – she stayed up until 3 or 4 or 5am and then slept until late morning/early afternoon for the first months. And even when her sleep times lined up more closely with mine, she was still waking every couple of hours to breastfeed. The number of night feeds slowly tapered, but she was almost two before she started sleeping through the night.

I’m not even going to mention the stress and strain of getting her to go to bed at night – it was very difficult until she was almost three.

These days, Petra goes to sleep at roughly the same time every night without too much trouble (we have a firm bath, book, bed routine that she enjoys). She mostly wakes sometime between 10 and 11pm to pee. And then sleeps through until 7ish. This is a miracle of order compared to the first year or so of her life.

But, I’m still knackered because Petra wakes me every morning (and I’m lucky – I know mums who are woken at 5 or 6 every morning) and she often disturbs me during the night. A full night’s sleep, one where I go to sleep when I want to and stay asleep undisturbed before waking up by myself because I’ve finished sleeping, just isn’t part of the plan. And I miss that, my body misses it, and so does my brain. I’m absent-minded, fuzzy, and inclined to lose track of the word I want half way through a sentence. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be rested.

I could make it easier on myself by going to bed a little earlier of course – I got involved in a book last night and looked up to discover that it was well after midnight. Oops. But even early bedtimes don’t make up for the lack of a full night of restful rest.

Tiredness is the main reason having another baby gives me pause. I look at people with babies and toddlers and am wistful, because babies are lovely. I enjoyed Petra so so much and would love to experience another baby. But then I think of the exhaustion of the first few months and the stress of the various sleep phases we went through, and I quail. I’m not sure that I have the stamina to do it again, especially if we should happen to get another baby as sleep-resistant as Petra.

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2 Responses to Tired: A Mother’s Lament

  1. iamroewan says:

    Sleep…big problem area for all parents…

    Does Petra nap? If she does, maybe you can nap at the same time.

    Ever since I can remember, my Mom and Dad had (and still have) a firm 45 to 60 minute naptime right after lunch. As far back as I can remember, maybe the age of four, my three younger siblings and I were all strictly required to be either very quiet, also napping or outdoors away from the house during this time. If the phone rang one of us would answer and whisper to our chatterbox neighbours: “No, Mom can’t come to the phone right now, she’ll call you back.”

    My brother, who worked shift work for about 30 years and has chronic disrupted sleep patterns, gets no more than 5 or 6 hours of sleep at night and also naps during the day or early evening.

    • Janettes says:

      Petra gave up napping just before she turned two, so no quiet afternoon times for us. Travis and I take it in turns to nap at the weekend though, and very nice it is to curl up in bed and doze in the middle of the day. It feels very decadent.
      I never thought of your parents’ strategy though. Petra and I snuggle up together on the bed sometimes or read stories or do other quiet things, but I’ve not actually napped myself while she’s awake on her own. If I ever look like I’m dozing, Petra wakes me up quick smart!

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