Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sleeping with one eye open...

The one issue we have struggled with since having a child is the sleep deprivation... It is hard to explain to someone that hasn't really experienced it how much it impacts your day to day well being. I have had days (particularly in the first 3 months or so) where I hardly knew my own name. Where I have been short tempered with my husband and probably anyone else who had the misfortune of getting in my way. Days I could hardly speak. Days I felt positively depressed.

I could have never anticipated how it would really be until we were faced with it. Now, now, I promise you, this is not a little complaining about an interrupted 8 hour slumber, we are talking about 10 months of 3 or 4 hours maximum sleep a night (and sometimes less.) I feel like this is our 'thing'... I had a great pregnancy, a dream labour... and now is the hard part.

What can I say? Our girl doesnt like/need a lot of sleep. She is a very bright and active little girl, she has always been very alert, with an old soul look about her and smiles from 2 weeks old.

As new parents, we just accepted it as part of the package and rolled with it for the first 3 months. Sometimes doing 'split shifts' of staying up with A as she cried, fed, played throughout the night, sometimes just doing what we could when she awoke after only an hour or two slumber.

I have watched every other 'Mummy friend' I have with children of similar age reach the point where their child started 'sleeping through'; which by very definition is 5 hours in a row-- the majority of these children now give their parents 10 hours of kip.

It has been challenging for all of us; there have been tears and there have been raised voices. But.... we do it as a family.... THANK YOU, G.... your baby rocking skills are yet to be surpassed.

From the first night she was born, Avalon has slept with us in our bed, yes, the family bed.

Despite the difficulties of sleep deprivation, it is still 100 times easier, in our opinion, to have our little girl beside (or between) us in bed. 
There are many reasons to co-sleep that benefit both children and their parents, but primarily for us co-sleeping has made breastfeeding, well feeding in general, so much easier. Again, some nights my coping mechanisms are better and than others, some I feed her while we both sleep, others I lie awake while she sleepily nurses and I get kicked in the stomach and think my nipples may actually fall off!

But co-sleeping is more than just making it EASIER for us, we LOVE to have her with us at night.

I have lost count the amount of times I have been challenged emotionally (and physically) by ANOTHER 'rough' night, yet I am right there at 5am as she opens her eyes for the very first time that day.

I can hardly describe the feeling of  love that washes over me, and washes away the feelings of hardship from the previous night. After those little eyes open, I get the biggest and brightest smile - yes, EVERY DAY.
Is there are better way for the day to begin?

There have been times G and I have laughed at 1am as Avalon has decided that is the time to play, letting out a huge sigh and 'singing'' in the way only she can. I know we aren't missing a thing (except some shut eye.)

It guess it isn't always a bed of roses... but it is for us.

(For more information on breastfeeding and co-sleeping, I highly recommend 'The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding' from La Leche League International. See it here. )