I so wanted to write this last week but my best intentions were foiled by two things:
1) I killed my trusty netbook by standing on it as I stumbled out of bed to rush to the bathroom for a 3 am pee. I probably would have been more careful had T not been screaming like a burning howler monkey because I had the audacity to prise his sleeping gums from my nipple and try to slip him back into his cot. In my defence I was seriously worried about my bed linen given my dodgy post pregnancy bladder and pelvic floor muscles. (Oh the glamour)
2) I have been too tired this week to be able to even attempt to converse with husband, never mind attempt to write a coherent blog post. Lack of sleep has addled my brain to such an extent that whichever lobe it is that is respnsible for language appears to have been disconnected until further notice. When my husband arrives home from work, I now hand him his first born son with just a grunt. (Tone, volume and length of grunt varies according to the type of day I’ve had but generally expresses something along the lines of ‘You’re late. I ran out of ways of entertaining your son about an hour and a half ago. I can’t do this any more. If you want me I’ll be in the kitchen making dinner and sobbing about how bloody tired I am.)’
Now, this, dear reader or random member of the general public who asks me the dreaded question about whether T is sleeping through, is your chance to offer advice about how to get the little
bugger darling to go to bed at 8pm and not stir again until 8am the next morning. If my motherhood-impaired memory serves, I’ve already written about my refusal to give T a bottle of formula (being able to successfully breastfeed a preemie is something which I worked hard for and which I’m damned proud of) and to be honest the internet is still full of mothers with formula fed babies who don’t sleep through so it-s not exactly a miracle cure.
Here’s a list of other things that have been suggested to me to get T to sleep through the night:
1) A dummy (or a pacifier if you’re American) Oh, of course, because all babies who have dummies sleep through the night. Doh.T doesn’t have a dummy because his grandfather is a retired dentist who reels in horror at the very idea of giving a dummy and then the internet is full of parents trying to find ways of weaning their children off dummies- surely it’s just much easier not to give them one in the first place. Or am I missing something?
2) Not just a bottle of formula but a bottle of formula with a rusk dissolved in it. Are you fucking kidding me? Let’s just ignore for a moment the increased risk of choking which putting anything into a baby’s bottle poses, I accept that breastfed babies are more likely to wake during the night hungry because breastmilk is much easier to digest than formula but why on earth would I want to slow down my child’s digestion with a sugar laden piece of processed crap in the hope that I might gain a couple of extra hours of sleep. Oh andf the same goes for adding baby rice.
3) Early weaning. Essentially this is just the same point as 2) because there aren’t actually a whole lot of foods that you can offer a baby who isn’t developmentally ready to be weaned. Early weaners inevitably end up giving babies bulked up formula (baby rice, baby porridge etc.). Aside from the fact that there are pretty clear guidelines as to why early weaning is not a good idea (unless specifically recommended by a pediatrician for medical reasons such as reflux) weaning does not, and I repeat, DOES NOT, make babies sleep for longer. T started weaning at 26 weeks (16 weeks corrected age) and has been on three meals a day for couple of months now. Has it made any difference at all to his sleep? No, bugger all.
4) Establishing a good bedtime routine. Oh, thanks for that suggestion because of course I’ve been dragging T round all the local nightspots until the early hours of the morning. I like to make sure that no one evening is ever the same for him and am always sure to get him good and over-stimulated with strobe lighting and thrash metal before putting him down in his cot. Luckily, our unconventional bedtime routine makes NO difference whatsoever to T’s sleeping habits – he breastfeeds to sleep and drops of without any problem (it’s the 16 million times he wakes up after this which are slightly more problematic).
5) Giving him a worn T-shirt of mine to snuggle with. Errmmm…when we’re not co-sleeping, his face is about 10cm away from mine. I can smell his sweet baby breath and he can smell my stinky mummy breath.
6) Co-sleeping/moving his cot further away from my bed. Come on, you baby sleep experts, make your bloody minds up. Is he not close enough or too close? Which is it?
And last but not least (though it is my least favourite)
7) Sleep training.
I’m going to save this juicy area for my next post because the way I see it, it’s not babies who need sleep training but their parents’ expectations.