So, I have a secret. My 8 month old Doesn’t Sleep. It’s currently 2:38am, I’ve had maybe 2 hours broken sleep tonight 😪 and this has been normal for the past few months.
Well, that’s not entirely true, he does sleep but only in my arms, he won’t sleep in his cot. And I know it’s my own fault, I still rock/feed him to sleep, every time, and as soon as I put him down in the cot, he wakes within an hour, if I’m lucky. And of course I go pick him up straight away, rock him back to sleep and so the cycle continues
We are starting sleep training soon (please no suggestions of bed sharing, safe sleep is very important to me) and it’s got me thinking why I put up with it for so long. I’ve had so many people ask how I’m even functioning, there was a day last week I only got an hour and 40 minutes sleep, not even in one go, and I was still OK the next day. (with coffee of course) Joel has no idea how I’m managing, pretty sure he thinks I’m an alien or something lol
The more I think about it, the more I think I know the reason.
I do it, and continue to do it because it’s not really that bad. Seriously. And that’s not to shit on or diminish any parents that aren’t handling the lack of sleep, or that find it really hard, everyone has their breaking point, but I’m just not near mine yet. And I owe it to my past, physical tiredness doesn’t really bother me. It’s just another way that being Ella’s mum, (a ‘special needs parent’) has changed me.
Emotionally I have support, Joel cooks dinner nearly every night and looks after the kids for a couple of hours weekend mornings so I can have a bit of a sleep in and a long hot shower. And the biggie, I know Reece is ok, he’s doing all the things he’s meant to be doing at his age, he signs milk, claps hands, crawls, pulls up. Every day spent with him is so easy, and he’s growing up so quick! I know he won’t still be wanting me to cuddle him to sleep at 16, or even 10. So yeah the nights are long, but the days are so bloody short.
Nothing quite compares to the emotional tiredness that comes with parenting a special needs child. When Ella was a baby not only did she not sleep but the emotional drain was brutal. She’d cry, she’d pull out her feeding tube, she’d be so constipated she’d need suppositories,
During the day doing therapies with her that she hated, casting her feet for weeks, getting her to wear her splints, after getting no sleep the night before, dealing with a meltdown in public or any number of stupid things said or done by other people.
Sitting up all night next to a hospital bed.
Driving 3 hours away just to see a specialist, only to have to drive home again after a 15 minute seemingly pointless consultation.
Even now at 7, some days are more emotionally draining than Reece not sleeping ever will be. Like Friday, I had Ella’s IEP meeting.
IEP, (individualised education program) is a meeting with Ella’s educators and I that happens a few times a year, we talk about how she’s going with previous goals, and set new goals for the upcoming semester. I remember my first one, it was so rough! I walk in, wearing leggings and an oversized jumper, having no idea what to expect, from memory, 6 adults seated across from me (yes, I know I’m supposed to be an adult too, but these were adultier adults lol) I was totally unprepared, I don’t think I said more than 2 words the entire time while these people talked at me. And afterwards, of course I cried. 😩
-side note- It is different now, I stroll on in head held high with my little ‘cheatbook’ clutched in my hand. My notebook full of my concerns, my expectations from Ella’s educators, last meetings goals and notes on how we can achieve them if we haven’t already. Confidence just oozing from me, I know what I expect from them, and I know what they expect from me, and *gasp* I even feel like an adult, with proper pants on!
But still, afterwards I’m drained. Listing the goals not met can be brutal, And coming up with a plan that everyone can agree on can sometimes be impossible. And it’s the same after most appointments. Or even just a rough day with Ella, with meltdown after meltdown, watching my beautiful girl so frustrated that she slaps herself across the face, or bites herself hard enough to break the skin, and lashes out at me – the emotional toll that takes is indescribable.
So yeah, I’m fucking tired, but there’s worse things than sitting up all night, watching Netflix and cuddling an adorable sleeping baby.
Although if you say that to me tomorrow, I might just bite your head off…