Sleep envy. It’s a real thing, and I’m slightly ashamed to say I’ve got it. I try not to show it but every time a mother at a baby group mentions how their little one has ‘slept through since he was 10 weeks old’ I feel myself rapidly going a Shrek shade of green with jealousy. What I wouldn’t give for a good nights sleep. Our baby is 5 months now and in that time he has slept through the night a grand total of one times. Once. Several months ago now, a complete fluke – never seen before and, on my greyer days I sometimes fear, never to be seen ever again. So unexpected that night was that Hubs and I didn’t even sleep through the whole night ourselves. It was pretty much a night of:
“Have you got up and fed him while I’ve been asleep?”
“No… haven’t you?”
Cue confusion all round.
That sweet, wonderful, stuff of dreams night was sadly just a one off. The next night it was back to normal. Or rather, as normal as it gets for our little guy. That is, goes to bed fine and doesn’t generally want to get ‘up up’ for the day until 7am or so (I thank my lucky stars for that!) but in between bedtime and getting up time there will be multiple feeds, probably some crying (of varying amounts) and definitely a fair amount of shuffling and huffling. (The shuffling can be loud enough that I have been known to mistake it for my husband getting up and walking through the bedroom. In fact on a couple of occasions I began to have a very real panic that there might be an intruder in the house. Seriously.)
He usually wants 2 bottles during the night, but then sometimes he likes to shake things up a bit and have 1 or 3. Why keep things dull and predictable? For the same reason he likes to vary the times of these nightly feeds. He might follow a routine of waking for the first feed at say 1 o clock for 4 or 5 days in a row then just as we start to get into a rhythm thinking we know where we stand – BAM! The next night we are rudely awaken at midnight instead.
I do realise my baby is not the worst for his nightly routine. I have heard horror stories of much, MUCH worse and my God do I feel for the parents dealing with those nights day in, day out. They have my full sympathy. But unfortunately I seem to be surrounded by people with babies who sleep through the whole night. Babies who have not had a night feed since they were barely out of the womb. Babies who love sleep as much as their parents do. I love my baby and clearly wouldn’t swap him for any of these sleep-loving little’uns but occasionally I do wonder when it will be our turn to catch up on a bit of shut eye.
I have been asked on multiple occasions (usually by parents of excellent sleepers) the question that parents of lesser-sleepers hate the most:
“Does he not sleep through he night yet?”
This is the point that, if I were a cartoon character, steam would come out of my ears and an angry siren would sound. I hate that question with a passion. Mostly because it is normally delivered with a genuine air of surpsrise. (“He doesn’t sleep through the night yet?!” The implication appears to be that this is highly unusual.) But of course I am not a cartoon character and I am always very polite in my response. It’s not that I have any malice towards the people that ask this question, some of them have been very good friends and I still love them dearly. What I do hate though is the way it instantly makes you question yourself. No matter how much you know deep down that LOTS of babies don’t sleep through until much later, you start to wonder if you might be doing something wrong or if the majority of babies actually are sleeping through and your baby is somehow the exception to the rule.
On the flip side a good chat to a fellow sleep-short parent can do absolute wonders for the soul. When a friend of mine told me to have faith, she had been through it and her little one had finally started sleeping through the night around 11 months old it made me feel a million times better. I relayed the conversation to my husband that night and his face was a look of pure fear – “this could go on for another 6 months yet?!” he proclaimed, panic stricken. I argued at least this is proof from someone we know and trust that there is light at the end of the tunnel! Take it as a positive!
Those mornings that I wake up feeling rather less than human after a tenuous amount of sleep I find myself mentally tallying up all the things that must most certainly be better for parents of good sleepers:
- Instead of waking up feeling like a Zombie who cannot face the day, I imagine I would wake up with a positive attitude and the ability to get things done.
- Instead of reaching for as many carbs as I can possibly stuff into my gob, I imagine I would have the willpower to opt for a healthy breakfast. (Tiredness does this to me – I need the carbs when I’m struggling!)
- Instead of working towards an Olympic gold medal in the field of Coach-Potatoism I imagine I might actually feel inclined to get up off my arse and go for a walk once in a while.
- In short, I imagine I would just generally have my shit together quite a bit more than I currently do.
On bad days, I do feel quite jealous in general of everybody out there who is not struggling for sleep. I even envy my pre-baby self for her ability to sleep as and when she liked. WHY DID I NOT APPRECIATE IT MORE WHEN I HAD IT?
So there you have it. There is such a thing as sleep envy, and I have most definitely got it. But I am also blessed with a fabulous husband who does more than his fair share, a cupboard full of berrocca (the nectar of the Gods) and the capacity to drink a LOT of coffee. These things help get me through.
And if all else fails, wine heals all. Hallelujah!