{THE ORDINARY MOMENTS 17} #4 ‘CAUSE THAT’S JUST WHAT WE DO’

It’s 10.40pm. Or it might be 10.45, 10.30 or even 11pm. It’s around that time though, I am certain of it. So certain I don’t even need to glance at my watch, for it is the same every single night. The whimpering that begins from upstairs. Both Jon and I look at each other as it starts, we almost sit there with baited breath waiting for it to get louder. And louder still. The cries from our baby boy upstairs, signalling that it is time for me to go to bed. Whatever I am doing at that moment, most likely working, but more often than not watching TV, or even perhaps having a bath, it’s time to stop and go to bed. My couple of hours to myself in the evening are over.

I walk into the room and straight away he sees me. The crying gets louder for a moment, as he waits for me to get to him. I cuddle him first, but that won’t stop him crying, not when he is this wound up. I give him milk and instantly he stops. After a while I pull him off, he wouldn’t ever stop of his own accord, not like he does during the day. And I wait. I feel my body tense up, it’s not with fear, but it’s also not with anticipation either. It’s nerves. It’s willing. I will him with all my might to settle. And sometimes he does. Very rarely he will have some milk and go to sleep, albeit only for a couple of hours until it starts again. Constant on and off throughout the night. Broken. Broken sleep and broken routines. But more regularly at the moment, he starts to cry again. Or worse he just wakes up. He is wide awake. Smiling. Pulling my hair. Babbling away. Tapping me. Its cute at first but after a few hours it gets draining. It’s awful to say it but I find those times quite claustrophobic. I feel over stimulated, it’s almost too much touch.

And that’s where my night begins. Some nights recently it has been worse than others. I can go to bed at 11pm and not fall asleep until at least 1am. Just lying there in a cycle of telling myself I will not feed him again as this bad habit is getting worse, of resisting even though I know he won’t settle without. Resisting for sometimes up to an hour, and then giving in, knowing that if I give him some more milk he will fall asleep and I’ll get a break. Some nights I am stronger than others, but I always end up caving. I have no willpower, I am just too tired. When eventually we do sleep, it won’t be for a long time. I don’t even bother looking at the time now as it is on and off all night long. I often wonder if I am ever actually fully asleep? More just dozing, never getting to sleep long enough for me to get into a deep sleep cycle.

I’d be lying if I said I am coping with this lack of sleep. Most nights though I’m strong. Some nights I just think ‘Get on with it Katie, it’s not that bad’. I can deal more with the on and off dozing throughout the night, as bad as it is he just sleepily feeds. It’s the waiting to go to sleep that gets to me. When all I want to do is go to sleep, to close my eyes and to switch off – to not think about work, to not think about being a parent, to rest my tired body and my exhausted mind. Those are the nights I find the hardest. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I am ashamed to say I shout. I shout and swear and take it out on whoever happens to be nearby. Which of course is usually Jon. On a couple of occasions over the last nine months I’ve sobbed. I’ve sobbed and said ‘I can’t take this anymore.’ But of course I can. Cause that’s what we do.

Yet in all this, for all the tiredness, there’s a part of me that loves it. These are the glory days. I don’t love the tiredness, I don’t love the exhaustion. But I love the closeness. I love having my boy next to me. And that’s the problem. It’s my fault. Yes he isn’t as good a sleeper as the girls were, that much I know for certain. But I have created these habits. I’m the one who let him in our bed when he should have persevered putting him in his crib next to me. I’m the one who once he grew out of that a few months ago, didn’t even bother to put another cot up. I just let him sleep there permanently. Having been the strictest non co-sleeper with Mads and only letting LL do it a little bit, I’ve even surprised myself. But I know why. I know why I’m like this.

I am certain that there is something to be said about the power of reflection. As time goes past the memories get hazier. But I imagine the girls when they were babies. I can picture their faces but I can’t remember what it felt like to feel their warm little bodies next to mine. I can’t truly recall the feeling of heat radiating off them and the way it felt to wrap my arms around them. I of course remember what their hair was like but I can’t remember truly what it felt like to stroke their heads. I’d give anything to go back and lie with them in the night as babies. I would give absolutely anything to rock them to sleep, to feed them, and sit there stroking their hair. I often wonder why I was so quick to put them in their cots after their night time feed? I wish I could go back and hold them that little bit longer. 

There is something about the beauty of the past, whether it was yesterday or many yesterdays ago, that fuels us to drink more out of the present.

And while it’s tough at the moment, while I don’t need anyone else to tell me I’ve created bad habits as I am experienced enough in my parenting journey to know I’ve done just that and then some, I know that soon I won’t be this tired. It won’t always be this way. It’s not going to be long until his room will be ready, his cot will be up, and this stage will be over. I am dreading it, I know it’s not going to be easy breaking this routine we have created, but it won’t be forever. This phase will end. He might not ever be a good sleeper, but it’s not always going to be this bad. And I already miss it. I can already feel tears springing to my eyes when I think about it. These last nine months have been exhausting, there have been night times where it’s been so hard, where I’ve thought to myself ‘I can’t cope with this’. But while I may begrudge it at the time, I will never look back and regret it. That much I know is true.

I hate feeling tired, I hate feeling exhausted, but there’s something about the vulnerability of feeling like this that demands the most beautiful moments of motherhood. Because at the moment this is how it is. He needs me, simple as that. I am the only one who can fix it. And so I lie there in the night- I stroke his head, I lie him on my chest like he’s a tiny newborn and not a wriggly nine month old, I’m hyper alert and ready to deliver the kind of care that will sear memories of precious maternal moments for me. He won’t remember this.

But I will. One day I’ll look back on these days and I’ll smile. I’ll wish for them back. I’ll wistfully remember the way he nestled into me and how just being next to me calmed him down. So I just get on with it…

Cause that’s just what we do.

 

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23 Comments

  • Lucy says:

    Oh hun, such a beautiful, heartfelt post. But stop beating yourself up about “bad habits”… they aren’t bad, they are just what works. You say you have no routine, but you do, it’s just different to how it was with the girls, and it’s making you more tired than you were with the girls, but that doesn’t make it bad or wrong. Because you’re just doing what it takes to make your boy happy, because you are an amazing mummy. And because – with your experience – you know this stuff doesn’t last forever, and that once it’s over you’ll miss it.
    So don’t beat yourself up about making bad habits, up to this point you’ve done what needed to be done for both of you, and that’s okay. And if you want to change it up, if what has worked really isn’t working for you anymore, then that’s okay too. Its strong people who can admit that something isn’t working anymore. And I swear you’ll look back to this post this time next year and just remember it all fondly, hard as that is to grasp when you’re sooooo tired. He’ll get there lovely, and so will you, because nothing is set in stone. Sending lots of love and restful wishes! x

  • Oh Katie this brings back everything that I felt with Holly. She wasn’t a great sleeper, like Alice was and I would do anything to have some sleep. That was all I could think about in the middle of the night. Yes, I created bad habits, but I was exhausted and I had a 2 year old home with me every day. I needed as much sleep as I could get, and I wasn’t getting much. But it didn’t last, the phase moved on. Holly slept through from 17 months old and then she was just an early riser. But I could cope with the 5am starts better because I didn’t have broken sleep, which is the killer. Then last week at 2.5 years old we moved her to a bed and all week she has slept until 6.30/7am. I look back at that first 17 mths, when I honestly didn’t know how I would function each day, and I know I would do it all again. X

  • Lauren says:

    Awwww Katie I really feel for you. It was almost the same for me with Harry, from what I can remember. We had our own room for well over a year because it made life easier (and his dad would make a really big fuss if I had Harry in our room!).
    I think it’s completely right what you said about wishing those days back later down the line. I often just want to go back to that time, even though it was hard at times.
    You are doing a great job and it won’t last forever xx

  • Carie says:

    Oh Katie, I could have written this down to the word when Pip was this age! You have to stop blaming yourself for it, it’s just your wee boy’s personality – I did exactly the same thing for my three and had three very different results, including the impressively non sleeping Pip. I think the hardest part wasn’t so much the not sleeping, but the loss of control – I couldn’t plan to get anything finished of an evening because I never knew how long my evening would last and that was really tough. It’s one of those things that will change before you even realise it has – even if it’s just that the “come and be my devoted servant for the rest of the night” call pushes back to 1am so you get a bit more time to yourself. In the meantime, big hugs and occasional naps are the answer!

  • Sarah says:

    14 months in and we are the same – starts at about 10pm and then he is on and off for milk (sucking more than milk) all night. Recently he has started waking for 2.5hrs during the night as well as the stirring for milk. But I don’t think of it as having made bad habits. This is just the way that worked for us. I dread to think what life would be like if I tried to make him sleep in a cot in his room – endless nights soothing him in there, sleeping in a rocking chair or on the floor next to him while I try to settle him… bed is much preferable! Even if very little sleep is had!

  • Kaye says:

    I’m right there with you lovely and he’s only my second! If we have a third, they’ll be no bad habit left unbroken. I take solace from the fact that they won’t be babies forever (as you very well said) and this is just how it will be for now. I’m trying desperately to try and pop him off the boob before he’s fallen asleep but it’s difficult as he’ll often wake right back up. Have you tried a vibrating toy or product? We have a soothing centre from purflo and if I unmatched Jesse and he wakes up, most of the time if I lay him down and pop the vibrate on, he’ll go back to sleep. Not all the time, but enough so I don’t go completely mad! Otherwise I like to read all about Mama’s co-sleeping and how it’s not a bad thing to nurse to sleep to make myself feel better. 😂 Kaye xoxo

  • Natalie says:

    Beautiful post. I am only a month in so I can’t even imagine how you are feeling. I always get so weepy when I am tired so I feel like I am constantly crying! I know also that before we know it these days will be gone and we will miss our special moments with our boys. Sending love sweetie xx

  • Sherry says:

    I was always so determined to do routine routine routine with mine that I never really experienced what you’re going through but I can only sympathise. At some point he will sleep through, he won’t want constant cluster feeding or comfort and you’ll wonder where the time went but you’ll always have these gorgeous posts to look back on xx

  • Colette says:

    It’s not bad habits, it’s doing what you need to to get through.
    I always found that not taking to or making eye contact with the kids in the night helped them to know it was bedtime. It was a fully practical wake up, settle with boob and back to bed. Xx

  • Roxanne says:

    Beautiful post Katie. ❤️

  • Oh Katie this had me welling up. I am that awful person who has ended up with good sleepers but we all break sometimes. The other night Callie woke 5mins after I drifted off and I shouted, I snapped at Joe and I cried…my God did I cry! Sobbing as I fed her. It’s that frustration we all feel and I can’t imagine what that must be like every night all night but like you say we do it because we need to. Because they are our babies and they need us and because we know that in time this too will pass. Sending so much love your way sweetheart xxxxx

  • Jenny says:

    OH hunny I wish you wouldn’t beat yourself up there are no bad habits. We as parents do the best we can and we make our own routines with each child. It’s different every time as you have experienced already so it feels foreign and different but you are doing an amazing job and you have his routine what works for him and it will change again and again. These are not bad habits I think these are resourceful tactics to get through the day and night as you see fit. I hope that’s encouraging words. He is thriving just look at that smile and he will soon be older and gets easier and have his own room and this will feel like a foggy dream. Gorgeous photos. Joining in again hoping to try every week again I need to capture our everyday ordinary moments I miss it so much.

  • I can relate to this so much Katie. Roma was bad, really bad and honestly I still go to bed slightly anxious about the fact that she will probably wake up at some point and I probably haven’t slept deep since she was born almost 2 years to the day. But then I ache to hold her, I ache to have these moments back and maybe create bad habits because although it is utter torture you are right, it isn’t also all cosumingly beautiful too. You are doing your best, and that to your baby boy will always be enough. You’ve got this xx

  • I echo what everybody else has said. You’ve done what is right for you and Wren. We used to let Alfie sleep with us because it meant we all slept and now we have Nate, I’m co-sleeping again. Like you say it won’t be forever and you’ll miss these days when they’re over. Be kind to yourself lovely xx

  • Joanna says:

    Oh Katie I feel for you i can’t imagine how u feel as Blake has always been a good sleeper. but it is a shock to the system when he does keep me up in the night as its so rare. I definitely wouldn’t beat yourself up over what you feel is bad habits as u have to do what works for u.

  • I am in awe of mums who are women so often through the night – I just don’t know how you keep going! But we all do what’s right for our kids and ourselves. My kids all slept through from 6 months or earlier, but they’ve always gone to bed later and have always been fussy eaters. So I might not have been the mum who was up at 1am, 3am and 5am, but I am the mum who often makes three different meals even though my kids are 15, 13 and 10.

  • Sarah says:

    What adorable kid you have. Beautiful eyes. Watching this brings peace of my mind. Enjoyed this article:)

  • Mary Smith says:

    I was thinking just today “was I this wrecked with the others?”, and I honestly don’t know. I just know I am so exhausted every day too… I do things differently with Alice and give into her more, and there are many reasons for this. Maybe its because he is your last?and maybe its just because hes a different little person, but its not a bad habit, you are doing what you have to and what he needs at this moment. It makes me sad to read of your struggles as I can see myself on those long nights too getting mad and shouting, and its super hard in those moments, but try not to feel bad – you are doing fab!I totally get the needing space and noone touching me haha x #ordinarymoments

  • Donna says:

    Oh Katie, I can completely relate to this – the trying not to feed them at night in the hope they’ll get used to not having it, the broken sleep, the sheer exhaustion. Before you know it he’ll be one, then he’ll be 18 months, then he’ll be two and this will all be long behind you and you’ll forget how tired you were. But it doesn’t make it any easier. It seems endless when you’re living it and it feels like it will last forever. Sending love x

  • Gemma says:

    I think by the time you get toy for third baby, you do what you can to ‘survive’. There are no such things as bad habits with a little one, as you do what you can for an ‘easy’ life. I think also by Mason, I felt so much older, and tired, even though there was only 5 year difference between him and Izzie. It takes me longer to recover from lack of sleep now.I just think, they won’t be 12 and still waking through the night (will they?!) Lots of love lovely xxx ps gorgeous photos as always

  • Oh Katie. It’s so difficult. Harry was around this age when he started to sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time (literally Timehop reminded me a few days ago!) and we had only just moved him into a cot in his room, before that we co-slept because he simply wouldn’t settle, and it took ages again before he would consistently self settle but as you rightly say, it isn’t forever. Please stop beating yourself up about ‘bad habits’, I don’t think there is such a thing. Almost everything we do as parents is either done for their benefit or done to get us through a period. x

  • Both my boys were rubbish sleepers until they started school actually.. I think the extra stimulation just wiped them out. The only other thing that worked was porridge before bed time, stopped them getting hungry in the night. Well sort of worked anyway!!

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