Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Sleeping Through

When our newest addition was born, we hardly dared expect anything good on the sleep front, given that our firstborn had been something of a "waker" rather than a "sleeper" - on average waking every 2-3 hours after screaming himself to sleep (despite every effort to the contrary), and at his/our worst, waking every hour. He became a bit of a legend around our local baby groups, and other mothers would shake their heads pityingly after giving me some "helpful" advice. 

So when Molly appeared to be sleeping well - often several hours in a row - during the first few weeks, we were far from complacent. Hopeful! But not complacent.

But not only did she keep up her pattern of sleeping (with the odd bad night as is normal), she actually improved upon it - very quickly learning when it was night-time and managing to sleep an incredible 6-8 hours in a row. I was worried at first. Nothing like this had happened with Harris until he was about a year old!

A few weeks ago I noticed that she was often falling asleep around about our dinner time, so I started to put her into her bed. Miracle of marvels, 9 time out of 10 she stayed asleep until the small hours! So, taking my cue from her, I have recently started to put her to bed before dinner, whether she seems ready or not. And oh my goodness it works! NOW I can understand all that well-meaning advice I received when we had Harris. The only problem was, they didn't know my son! My daughter, on the other hand, seems to like sleeping almost as much as I do, and usually only needs a little encouragement.

There is one drawback to all this though. While Molly is sleeping her 6-8 hours peacefully and beautifully, and we are getting some quality adult time to ourselves - even eating dinner together and enjoying a game or some adult conversation - it does mean that by the time we go to bed she is almost ready for her first feed. And thereafter she will wake every 2-3 hours again until breakfast. So in a sense I'm not actually getting any more sleep than I was with Harris!

Also, for some reason she still hasn't quite cracked naptime. While she will quite voluntarily fall asleep in transit or on the boob, unfortunately she just won't be put down for a nap in any structured way. This means if I'm at home I'm permanently attached to her in one way or another, or I have to listen to her screaming her heart out until she falls asleep in her hammock. Utterly heart renching and not at all what I want, but if I'm to preserve my sanity what else can I do? Sometimes I manage to transfer her quietly from my arms into her bed but more often than not she will wake within a few minutes and demand to be held again.

And so whilst I can revel in the luxury of finally getting to enjoy that great holy grail of all new mums, I am also quite heartened to find that "sleeping through" is just another perfectly ordinary possibility - warts and all - in the unpredictable life of a newborn.

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