Columnist, Nik Brear: Baby’s nocturnal habits are leaving mummy yawning

Sleepless nights are so much easier when you can nap in the day
Sleepless nights are so much easier when you can nap in the day
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Sleep. It’s a funny thing ain’t it?

When you’re a kid, you never want to sleep, when you’re a teen you spend half of your life asleep, in your 20s you have better things to do than sleep and by the time you hit 30, all you want to do is sleep. It’s safe to say I’m the latter.

As the mummy of a one-year-old, I rarely feel well-rested (that would be against the rules) but, as any parent will tell you, you soon get used to your own particular brand of fatigue. And it’s amazing how quickly you adapt as it changes. When I first had Imogen, she fed all night, every night. I was breastfeeding so that would mean feeds at 10pm, 12am, 2am, 4am and 6am. And she wasn’t nearly as efficient back then as she is now, so one feed could easily take a couple of hours. You do the maths. I genuinely remember when I considered two-and-a-half hours a phenomenal night’s sleep. But you get through it. You’re tired, of course, but it soon becomes your new ‘normal’ and you carry on looking after your little one, cleaning the house, putting laundry through, hitting the supermarket, cooking dinner – all on less sleep in a week than you used to get in a night.

I remember thinking that I couldn’t recall how it felt to sleep a whole night through any more. Imagine that; 31 years of sleeping soundly, then three broken months and those first three decades are just wiped out. Or maybe I was just too tired to remember them.

When Imogen started sleeping through at about four months, my body intially responded by shutting down. I was exhausted. It was as if, after months of merely dozing and being on constant standby, my body finally gave in and slept deeply. A few weeks later though and things had returned to normal. Not completely normal, you understand. I would still wake up regularly throughout the night to check the precious figure on the monitor on my bedside was still breathing, that she had enough/not too much blanket and that no little limbs were dangling out of the bars. But still, it was a big improvement and has been largely this way ever since. So when Immy started teething again recently, waking up at 4am like clockwork every morning, I’ve found it’s hit me hard again. I’m sleep-walking through my days and yawning my way through my evenings, even though I’m still managing about five hours a night. The past ‘new-mummy’ me wants to roll my eyes at ‘present-day’ me and tell me she dreams of that kind of rest. 20-year-old me thinks she can do that after a bottle of wine and still sail through her day, 10-year-old me would like me to tell her mummy that’s all she needs too and 15-year-old me...well, she just isn’t interested.