By Eugenie Buys
(This is not the verdict or opinions of an expert. I am just a mother, and I write about topics that I have experienced myself. Every baby and every mother is different, but maybe you can relate today.)
I have a friend who always says: “Sleep deprivation is the worst form of torture” and I have to agree with her. There are a small handful of people in the world who thrive on little sleep, but I am not one of those people, and I think very few of us are.
When you have a baby, “how do you sleep?” one of the first questions one gets. In those first few weeks and months when night feedings are common, no answer is an answer either.
My husband and I had quite a few “whisper fights” while the baby was sleeping, which ended with “can we just agree and go to sleep please, he’s going to wake up again now”. When you are still on maternity leave, people always tell you “sleep when the baby sleeps”. Too bad you can’t also do laundry when the baby is doing laundry and cook when the baby is cooking, can’t you? You also get those people (like a friend of mine) whose baby sleeps right through from three months. I’m going to be honest, when I listen with dark circles under my eyes as she tells how they all slept so well, I sometimes get fleeting thoughts of murder.
Parents have very different opinions about what the definition of “good sleep” is, and they stand quite strongly in those opinions. For some, everyone sleeps better when your child sleeps in bed with you, because feeding is easy and no one has to get up. For others, good sleep is a peaceful night where you don’t hear your baby’s natural support and moans in your room, and instead you get up, go to sleep and get back into bed. For some, good sleep is when you could at least close your eyes for a few minutes. For me personally, good sleep is a baby that can soothe itself and go back to sleep and I was able to do this (mostly) with the help of a sleep consultant.
Sleep consultants do get a bad reputation because the picture in people’s heads is of a baby who cries and cries and you lie blissfully in your bed and ignore them. This is very far from the truth. Baby sleep is much more complex than people think, and just like they have to learn to drink and eat and sit, they have to learn to sleep. A sleep consultant helps you to help your baby. As Zanda Greeff of Brave Little Baby says: “It’s important to understand that sleep challenges and tears are a common experience. By supporting us as sleep consultants, applying sleep strategies that the parent is comfortable with, and taking the little one’s needs and temperament into account, we can create a balanced and nurturing environment for both better sleep and emotional well-being for both parent and child. baby”. The English saying: “You can’t pour from an empty cup” rings very true here for me. I am a better person, wife and mother when I have slept myself.
Either way, one must remind oneself that it is only a season that one has to go through. And take comfort in the fact that that friend whose baby slept through so early, her teenager may still keep her awake.