…. No, I didn’t think so.
Still… It happens to the best of us you know.
I’ve often pondered why, despite being 7 years into the whole Mum thing and on my third round of the whole baby and toddlerhood lark, I am still caught out by random developmental milestones with my youngest.
You’d think I’d remember the last two times my older kids, in their sweet little puddy fingered toddler phases, metamorphosed from affable, nap-taking, agreeably easy sleepers, into rampaging insomniac veloceraptors.
But weirdly, no.
I had clean forgotten the abject horror of screaming, wailing, flailing sleep deprivation that we’d gone through TWICE BEFORE over the past 5 years.
I cannot fathom how we have managed to avoid having these experiences seared into the very fibres of our consciousness, except to assume that we are biologically programmed to forget these things until the next time. Because otherwise, who in their right mind would choose to do it all again a second or (god forbid) a third time?!?…
…. And yet, here we are.
And now remember ALL OF IT once again, in not-so-glorious surround sound and technicolor.
A few of weeks back, with the Summer holidays looming, I had been thinking of the weeks ahead, my main concern had been thinking of ways to entertain all three kids without the two eldest killing each other, destroying the house, or driving me insane with requests for more screen time or constant exclamations of boredom.
Somewhat smugly, I had breezily dismissed any concerns about #3, because “She’s so easy, she’ll just slot right into what we set up for the other two’.
Dear Me from three weeks ago: Joke’s on you, Smuggins. Joke’s on you.
It literally happened overnight. We put her to bed as usual around 8pm after storytime and all that jazz and as usual she popped her dummy in her mouth, waved “NaNa” to me as I kissed her and said night night, closed her eyes and rolled over.
She slept through (a recent luxury, but one we’d come to expect over the past six weeks, thinking we’d finally cracked the whole sleep issue, deluded fools that we were) and I went in, as usual, around 7am the next day.
The course of the next few hours served as a stark notice that we had just unwittingly bought a one-way ticket to toddler hell. And it was going to be a rough ride…
The first time it happened she’d been playing happily with the Lego Duplo when I popped upstairs for a quick pee. In the 90 seconds it took me to complete this task, my toddler had melted into a screeching, soggy golem.
If we’d had any, this would have been the moment at which any nearby hanging crucifixes would have slowly rotated upside down. She had turned vaguely purple, covered in snot and tears, and was lying face down on the floor thrashing about like a demented baby walrus, screaming so loudly the dog took refuge under the kitchen table.
Dr Google Will See You Now
What the hell was going on? I was unsure whether I should be administering Calpol or splashing her with holy water and saying the Lord’s Prayer.
And then, at nap time, for the first time, we had a flat refusal.
Then we had the tears.
And then we had the rage.
After an hour of going back in and popping her back down before enduring yet more of the tears/ rage combo, I eventually gave up and brought her back downstairs. I chalked the events of the day up to her coming down with something. I gave her some Calpol (I didn’t have any holy water to hand, inconveniently) and attempted to get on with my day.
However, getting on with one’s day is somewhat hampered when one’s house has been invaded by a small person whose MO is infused with hourly interludes whereby she lurches about in an unintelligible dribbling rage like a tiny (yet disproportionately noisy) drunkard.
Somewhat exasperated at this stage, I was counting down the minutes until
wine o’clock bedtime. But of course, bedtime just brought with it more rage, refusals and possible demonic possession.
About 3 hours after bedtime, our little demon finally dropped off, and I found myself experiencing full-on deja vu, Googling “22 month old wont sleep or nap”.
And then the penny finally dropped.
Oh dear God. Sleep regression, you absolute utter bastard.
The 2 Year Sleep Regression & The Ultimate Desperate Mum Manouevre
So, now we knew she was going through her two year sleep regression, with a hefty dollop of separation anxiety thrown in for good measure.
I’d like to say that once realised, we – as experienced parents – had it in hand.
However, in truth, I haven’t handled it well.
And Dr Google did not help.
I’ve been progressively more knackered and stressed. This has made me grumpy, short tempered and irrational. I have attempted at least 6 different types of Googled sleep training, but then being knackered and stressed has led to me capitulating and giving in after each protracted effort.
Baby #3 is different to Baby#1 and #2. And I wholeheartedly believe that even if she were my sixth I would still have been none the wiser because, when it comes down to it, every child is different.
Ultimately, to save my sanity (and to stop me being my shoutiest, crankiest self with my two eldest, for whom the consequence of this unexpected twist is that their Summer Holiday experience has fallen somewhat short of expectation) I have done what I swore I would never do, and had managed to avoid the first two times around.
For the past 10 days, Baby #3 has been sleeping in my bed. Because ultimately I can’t have these entire school holidays dominated by the erratic sleep patterns of a tiny raging tyrant.
For the record, whoever coined the phrase ‘co-sleeping’ lied – They sleep. You just lie there getting kicked in the boob.
Nonetheless, it’s what works best for me and for her right now. It won’t be forever, and once things are a bit less bonkers I’ll revisit my approach.
This Too Shall Pass
Now that I have come to terms with this latest episode of sleep deprivation, I guess one massive positive that comes from having dealt with it before is knowing that we will come out on the other side at some point.
Our older two are fine sleep-wise, and have been for years. For the most part (barring a few bouts of nightmares from time to time) they are pretty self sufficient. In fact, these days they tend to prefer to go upstairs and read together before lights out – something I am simultaneously both smug and grateful for.
Perhaps that’s why I am less caught up in doing ‘the right thing’ in getting my toddler to sleep this time around.
Like most aspects of parenting when you hit a blip it’s all too easy to fall down a rabbit hole. Desperation will have you asking for advice and Googling what to do left right and centre.
Search results can make you think that everyone is an expert, that you somehow can’t get past this problematic phase unless you do it ‘the right way’.
So, what’s my advice?
My only advice is not to take too much advice. There is no right way to do this stuff. What works for my kid might not work so well for yours. Experts shmextperts. The best thing that you can do is take a deep breath and a step back. Don’t stress yourself trying to conform to a technique that makes you both miserable. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
Sure, try a new technique if you think it might suit your kid’s needs and you’re comfortable with it. But know that if it doesn’t work (and it might well not) it’s no biggie. Sooner or later you’ll find your own groove. You and your kid will work through this eventually, once you find what suits you.
Hang on in there Mama. This too shall pass.
Did you like this post? Why not give some of my other posts a shufty too, you might find that this one makes you laugh a bit, or at least make you feel better knowing you’re not the only one getting f*ck all sleep. (Goes best with a large glass of wine IMHO.)
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