If you had asked me six weeks ago, before I had given birth, how much sleep I needed per night, my answer would certainly not have been three hours. Sleepless nights most certainly didn’t sound appealing and I was definitely worried about how I would cope as someone who has always needed a solid eight hours.
However, since giving birth it seems that I have discovered new reserves of energy that I never knew I had! Whilst I’m not going to sit here and pretend that newborn sleep patterns are easy, especially when said newborn doesn’t like sleep at all, I will say that there is a beauty in the long nights that I would never have imagined.
B is just a little over seven weeks old and the last month and a half have been up and down when it comes to sleep, to say the least. I do the nights alone because R needs to be up early for work, so when the down moments hit it is easy to feel like the whole burden of newborn exhaustion falls on my head.
It’s also hard, at times, not to start feeling resentful of anyone who gets more than a few hours of sleep in a night. Particularly when you’ve been up with a sick baby and feel like you’re running off fumes.
Let me clarify that genuinely sleepless nights are in fact not fun, and they are exhausting, there’s no getting away from it! The thing is, that if you let the resentment sink in, it will mix with that exhaustion and can only lead to bad things. Instead of letting that happen I decided to embrace the moments of pure calm and serenity that the early morning hours can bring.
The moments where you are somewhere between awake and asleep and it’s so late at night that early in the morning has started. The moments where your baby has awoken with hungry gurgles and fussy cries, only to sooth immediately as you pick them up, knowing that they are safe and loved.
The moment that you feel any tension in their little body disappear as they fall back into that deep, satisfied, fed and content baby sleep. Pulling their little head back from your breast and lying there all floppy.
The moments, in short, where you are this tiny person’s whole world and for a few hours there is nothing distracting you from them. No messages to reply to, no meals to cook, no washing to be done.
Just you and your baby in the strangely calming time warp that is the middle of the night. Those moments are beautiful and make the total and utter exhaustion that you’re feeling that bit more bearable.
So yes, it’s an exaggeration to say that I ‘love sleepless nights’, because we all need sleep for our own mental and physical health. However, these are the moments that make it possible for you to approach the next night, and every night after that, knowing that no matter whether you’re in for a good night or a bad one, you’ll get through it and come out the other side with a smile.
Sleep is incredibly important for both you and your baby, and I know that when B doesn’t get enough sleep during the day or night we are usually in for another 12 hours of wakefulness because he becomes over tired.
It is definitely possible to wish for a full night’s sleep whilst loving the beautiful moments that sleepless nights can bring you, knowing you’ll probably miss them when they’re gone… even if it’s only a little bit! It’s a strange dichotomy that motherhood brings but acknowledging it makes the hard times that bit easier.