If you’re on your knees with exhaustion as the proud new parent of a baby who just does not sleep, here are three home truths that I reckon you could use. I learned them the hard way.
It’s my fault my baby will not sleep
Sleep deprivation does ridiculously stupid things to the human brain, but the very worst is the way it distorts your thinking until you’re convinced that you are in some way to blame for the fact that you have a baby who will not sleep. So I’m here to say this loud and clear. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. It’s not because of something you’ve done or haven’t done, it’s not a measure of the sanctity of your soul, and it’s certainly not because you won’t cave to pressure from well-meaning relatives and just try controlled crying / give up breastfeeding / insert any number of ‘good ideas’ here. Think about it. Believing that it’s YOUR fault your baby doesn’t sleep is as absurd as blaming yourself because he or she didn’t arrive fully potty-trained and able to recite the alphabet backwards whilst painting a masterpiece with one hand tied behind her back. Sleep is a skill which must be learned, and there are endless reasons why some babies grasp it quicker than others. But IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Have you got that yet?
It’s the end of the world because I have a baby who will not sleep
In years to come this painful period of sleepless parenting will actually become a dim and distant memory. Honestly. It’s not because it’s not the big deal you feel it is right now, it’s just because all the most demanding and difficult parts of parenthood do just eventually fade - that’s the only way Mother Nature can get us to keep popping out more of the little blighters. I realise this might not be much comfort to you right now, but I found that it can actually help to take a moment to drink in the bigger picture when you’re going out of your mind with lack of sleep. Repeat after me: this too shall pass. It really, really will.
Everybody else secretly thinks I’m a rubbish mum
Surrounded by parents whose babies sleep for twelve blissful hours every single night, it’s easy to feel like a failure. Worse, it’s tempting to assume that everyone around you secretly thinks that your baby doesn’t sleep because, beneath your less-than-convincing facade, you’re just a really rubbish mother. Except no-one’s actually thinking that, and if they were they’d be the sort of useless friend that you shouldn’t bother your head about anyway. If anything, your friends are feeling gut-wrenching empathy for you and wondering how best they can offer you some support. My advice - pick up the phone and tell them what it’s like being the mother of a baby who will not sleep - they might not have a magic cure, but you’ll feel a whole ton better.
Oh, and did I mention that IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT?