We need to talk about motherhood and sleep deprivation

By Cherie

As mothers, sleep and time are probably the two most common things that elude us. Often we have to sacrifice one of them to enable ourselves to get enough of the other, to make sure we are still able to function. I don’t think you ever truly understand the value and luxury that is sleep, until you add some mini human beings into your life.

Most people know that newborns are going to seriously impede on the amount sleep you can expect to get. Pregnant mothers are often advised to get as much sleep as they can during the later stages of pregnancy, as they won’t be getting much during the first nine months of Motherhood. Hahaha.

Oh how we laugh, when we are told this. I often remember thinking:

Oh, I will get some sleep when I am not needing to pee, dealing with heartburn, having a mini human ram their foot/fist/head or butt into my rib cage/back/womb or bladder. Then I will try and sleep.

When I am not being woken by restless leg syndrome, nausea that hits you like a tonne of bricks and did I mention the need to wee, Yeah, I will try and sleep then.

It’s funny because I always felt it was like the body’s way of preparing you for the brutal awakening… excuse the pun, to the reality that is Motherhood. Newborns are funny little creatures, they are very much like cats in that they sleep all the time BUT they also have this ability to ensure we rarely do.

So once again we are given the ever helpful advice of “sleep when the baby does”. Because we all know when you’ve spent the day in our breastmilk stained pjs, with a baby attached to your breast you really want to sleep, but  you also desperately want to shower, go to the toilet and/or maybe drink a hot drink and eat some food. Sleep gets dropped like a hot potato and we’re generally fine with that, until it’s 4am and you are exhausted and it’s the 4th time the baby has woke since 11pm.

Oh, that afternoon nap seems a lot more appetising now, more so than that 15 minute shower, hot cup of tea and the three slices of toast you wolfed down earlier. Sleep is waaaaay more appetising. But alas, it is only with hindsight you see the error of your rookie ways. When 5.15 am rolls by and you are having to change the baby’s nappy, sheets and babygro after an epic blowout you swear tomorrow you will nap. You don’t. The cycle continues.

If your baby baby follows the text books they will be sleeping 12hrs a night from a few months old. None of my boys ever got that memo. You get your key developmental milestones that often bring along sleepless nights, or at the very least the broken sleep that we as parents just don’t seem to be able to cope with as well as we could 10 years ago.  Transitioning onto solids, teething, immunisations and separation anxiety are a few examples of when baby’s sleep pattern can go waaaay out of sync and that means so does yours.

That’s pretty much a full year of sleepless nights. Don’t worry it stops here. I am joking. Many parents are horrified to find out the sleepless nights can continue well into toddlerdom. Then you hit a whole other ball game. Bedwetting, nightmares, night terrors, a child who sneaks into your bed and basically kicks the shit out of you all night. They wake up refreshed, you wake up feeling like you’ve done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. Oh and don’t forget requests for 1am drinks, stories or the dreaded, I am 3 years old and don’t truly have any concept of time, what do you mean 4am isn’t breakfast time.

If you are really a glutton for punishment you will have multiple children like me, so it’s like you are in a never ending cycle. Every time your child reaches a stage where the sleep to waking ratio goes in your favour, you pop out another one.

We must be mad: or maybe it is the sleep deprivation?

As they get bigger, you get to sleep a little deeper and for a little longer. But don’t be fooled there aren’t still the exceptions where sleep will elude you. You get the situation where they are poorly and you lie awake checking their temperatures, the mid night dashes to A&E, the nights frantically trying to create bloody world book day costumes and Easter bonnets.

You get to the stage where you choose staying up over sleep to have some me/couple time or to be able to watch shows with sex, swearing or violence in them. Or just to have an hour where no one calls you Mum or asks you to wipe their butt.

Sleep deprivation is real in motherhood and some days I don’t know how I function enough to parent 4  mini humans; these are often the days I parent from the sofa.

Sleep deprivation can have an affect on your physical and mental health. I suffer with headaches and migraines when I truly get deprived of sleep. I can also notice a clear distinction between the amount of sleep I get and my mood.

I’m almost 10 years into this parenting gig and now I nap. Whenever, wherever. 5 minutes or 50 minutes. I am lucky that I am normally fall sleep within 5 minutes of my head hitting the pillow/couch/floor.

I sit writing this at 10:23pm with a baby with conjunctivitis, a toddler with a double ear and a throat infection, an over excited 5 year old and a 9 year old who has his best friend sleeping over. I have a feeling tonight will be a night I will be deprived of sleep.

Wish me luck.

♥ Did you find the sleeplessness a shock when you became a parent? What did you find harder, the initial days or those unexpected nights of illness or night terrors? How do you cope with sleep deprivation? Did/do you sleep when the baby does? Let me know

Much love and many thanks

Cherie

Originally published on Cherie’s blog MyMamaMusings.com – follow her on the gram here. Hope you ❤ her as much as we do!

How is lack of sleep treating you? Are you floating about like a blissed-out pothead or stumbling from playgroup to office walking dead style, like most of us mama zombies? We would ❤ to hear from you. Contact us, comment below, or tag #WokeMamas on social media.

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