On Motherhood and Sleep

  Between making meals, wiping faces, changing diapers, cleaning up toys, getting them dressed and wiping butts, there is no doubt motherhood can be trying.  When you factor in the sleep (or lack of it) issue things can go from trying, to down right exhausting and at times unbearable. When you add multiple children to the mix, things can get difficult and sometimes hard to cope with.  It’s important to know there are real scientific reasons why babies and children don’t *sleep through the night* and it’s also important to know everyone’s definition of *sleeping through the night* can vary, But when your in the thick of real sleep deprivation those dreaded words *is your baby sleeping through the night?* can be devastating. 

  First of all we are mammals and ideally mammals nurse their young.  If you are a nursing mom you know how frequent your baby will wake to nurse and how tired you probably feel in the morning, but instead of thinking about night weaning to get some extra z’s, consider this: Babies *sleeping through the night* may not be biologically fit to survive.  Babies who wake during the night are ensuring their needs for food, drink, warmth and air are met, thus staying alive.*  Also as the notable pediatrician Dr. Sears points out: infant needs of comfort at any age, is just as legitimate as his physical needs and should be responded to regardless if it’s inconvenient for the parents.*  And it can be quite inconvenient for the mamas out there up and attached and responding to their little ones. 

   I remind myself often that these will days will be fleeting and before I know it the littles that wake so often will soon be moved out of the house.  The point of this post is to one: inform the general public that contrary to popular beliefs, babies are not designed to sleep for long periods at night and sleeping through the night can actually be harmful to babies (at this point I will mention that a very small of babies do so called *sleep through the night* and have turned out just amazing— not all babies die of SIDS or other tragic event from sleeping through the night).  The second point of this post is to offer coping ideas.

  I think it’s also of importance to reveal to the public that I am a rare breed of non-sleeping highly functional people that just have the energy to make do with little to no sleep.  But I would say that is pretty unrealistic to most people, to be this functional—- so I am going to offer some helpful tips on coping with sleep deprivation. 

  I think that best advice that has gotten me through some pretty rough patches is the knowledge that it really is short lived.  Most babies, toddlers and children outgrow their sleep/wake cycle and eventually establish a more predictable sleep schedule.   Which can be hard to remember when your in the thick of night waking— but it’s good to keep this knowledge in the back of your mind.  For especially rough nights (a baby’s growth spurt and increase need for nursing sessions, a sick toddler, a feverish child) I let go of all expectations for the following day.  Play dates, grocery store runs, the morning jog—- even just playing outside can all get moved to the back burner while I recuperate.  Usually this just means taking it easy, I try to eat nourishing meals and snacks— ones that provide lot’s calories and carbs.  The carbs provide me with lot’s of energy and the calories are replaced from a long night of nursing.  And while I don’t recommend this, I live my days energetically due to high amounts of caffeine from my brewed stovetop espresso maker and when I add cream and sugar it really tops off my morning regardless of how rough it was.  If you enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, on rough nights I recommend two cups!!  Also upon getting up in the morning it is very important to grab a moment of *me* time before jumping in head first into parenting especially after a long night of wakefulness.  For me that means (and this I don’t recommend unless you’re a person like me) I try to wake up between 4 and 4:30am to get a nice two hours of time to myself before the kids wake up.  It’s nice to gather my thoughts, prepare food for the day, tidy a bit, watch the news, read the paper, and for my family that means I also take care of business.  Blog articles are written in peace with plenty of time for research, my ETSY store is updated and maintained, and I have a nice amount of time left over before the kids wake up to complete my doula training homework.  Other things that help after a particularly rough night are chocolate, letting the kids watch a bit of teevee, and taking a nap when two of the three littles are napping.

  And while times are trying when the babies are little and demanding I know I will miss the teensy-ness of this stage!

IMG_0308 *The best thing in the world is a sleeping baby* But I still find that when this one is awake I just can’t get enough!


What are some things you do to recover after a long night with your little ones?


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