I was in hospital after having Goosey and Skip arrived to tell me the news that Lil-lil had been a little angel and had been sleeping perfectly. I couldn't believe it! Finally at 21 months of age, she was sleeping. Just when I had popped out another baby who was sure to keep me up at night. On one hand I was happy I wouldn't be getting up to two babies, on the other hand I was upset - couldn't she have done that a week before? Even a month before?
At home Lil-lil was sleeping better, but once I came back she was still waking at least once a night. Thankfully she would only take a couple of minutes to get back to sleep, instead of the standard hour. Goosey was a 'good' baby, she ate and slept like she was supposed to. I even thought something was wrong as she would sleep for three hour stretches - that was unheard of to me. The only thing she did during the first three months that was ' bad' was have a very long arsenic hour in the evening and cry for about three hours, which is pretty normal.
The months past and Goosey was still sleeping three hour stretches at night. Never really got the hang of anything longer. Lil-lil was sleeping through about 2-3 nights a week. By the time Goosey was 10 months old, she was still waking about every 3 hours. By this stage I hadn't really had any proper sleep in 2.5 years. To say I was exhausted is an understatement. I simply dragged myself around, I wasn't really alive. I wasn't a particularly nice person to be around. Inside I felt completely hollow and scared. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't even think about what to do as I would just crumble into tears. Most of all I felt like a complete failure.
The nights would be so awful. Every cell in my body was crying for sleep, every dark hour awake was horrific and then the sun would be up and I would look at my two girls and everything would be OK again.
Things started to get worse. Unbelievably Goosey started sleeping less. Waking every hour. In the end I gave up and just lay on the couch with her every night, never really drifting into a deep sleep. During the day I couldn't concentrate on anything. Every task was monumental. I was the walking dead.
I had a wonderful GP who sat me down during one of Goosey's appointments and said: "You've got a healthy, beautiful daughter. I'm not worried about her at all. I'm very concerned about you." He thought I may have had postnatal depression, but said there was no way he could diagnose it with the sleep deprivation I was suffering. He said I had to get to Tresillian quick smart. I really didn't want to go. I'd been twice before, what were they going to tell me that was new? Was I that crap a mother that I had to go back to Tresillian yet again?
But at this stage, my body and mind weren't functioning. I couldn't lose weight as my body was so stuffed from the lack of sleep. I couldn't remember things. I didn't look forward to anything. My complexion was grey. I was a bitch to a lot of people around me.
With no other choice, I went back. It was the best thing I ever did. Lucy started sleeping almost immediately. I think her problems were me. I was so exhausted, I just didn't have the energy to help her. I needed the support of Tresillian. Which is essentially what they do - hold your hand while you work out the best way to encourage your child to sleep.
I met a wonderful friend there who had been through a similar story to mine. She's fab and I wouldn't have met her if I hadn't gone back. I also learnt I wasn't a terrible mother, just a very very tired one.
The most important thing I learnt sleepwise is this - all babies are different. People - experts and other mums alike - will give a one-size-fits all approach, but babies are all so different and respond to different things. What worked for Lil-lil was a disaster for Goosey. One baby sleeps through the night at 3 months, another will still wake at 3 years. You aren't a failure if you're part of the latter (just as you're not a success if you're one of the previous - just lucky!). If you're suffering with anything to do with motherhood, ask for help. We're not superheroes or martyrs. We're not helping anyone, least of all ourselves, by suffering in silence.
With regards to controlled crying - I know a lot of mums feel a lot of guilt over it, but I think you have to weigh it up in the individual situation. If parents are at breaking pointor the lack of sleep is creating a huge amount of stress in the house, then I think these things are worse for the bub in the long run than to be subjected to controlled crying. Of course some kids respond well and quickly to it and others don't. We tried with Lil=lil and it didn't work (yes, I was consistent, blah, blah, blah); with Goosey there was barely any crying and it worked really well.
At 13 months of age Goosey started sleeping through the night, most nights. Lil=lil started sleeping through the night most nights too. It only took 2 years 10 months. After a week of decent sleep, I woke up from the haze. It was like a fog had lifted, I felt so much better about everything. I became alive once more. Life is so much better. Every night when I tuck myself into bed, I'm so grateful to know that more than likely I'm going to get some sleep (except for last night when Goosey decided to wake three times, hey nothing is ever perfect!).
I would like to take this opportunity to give thanks to the friends that stuck by me and gave me support during this time, it wasn't easy. To my mum, who always helped as much as she could. Most of all to Skip, it wasn't easy but we made it and we've got a wonderful family.