As you may be able to gather from the tone of this blog over the past few weeks that things have been pretty tough round here. In fact I would be fairly happy to erase the last four weeks of my life altogether thankyouverymuch. Wilf sprouted three teeth in as many weeks, came down with the neuro virus and was poorly for 14 days. Slept in batches of twenty minutes or not at all until 10pm and up again (with waking every half an hour-45 mins) at 3.30am.
Tom and I have been bickering like mad. I resent him ever telling me he is tired as (and I think pretty much every mother in the world has said this at least once) 'you don't know the meaning of tired!!' Of course he is tired and in my calmer states I do try and remind myself its not about taking score and his tiredness is valid too...its just not as valid as mine right? ;)
My bones ache and feel like they will crumble and my eyes burn and feel like dead weights in my fuzzy head. I don't enjoy my days, I certainly don't enjoy my nights. Tom stepped up with helping overnight during the week and will get up for two out of the seven or so awakenings between 10ish and 6am. He also puts him to bed every night and will do predominately the larger share of the evening shift too. I know I should be appreciative of this but I needed to step out of my situation to see so as all my head said was 'its so much harder harder harder for me'.
My dad recently had an operation (which thankfully went well) and was having little over a week to recover so I thought I would go down to West Wales to visit him and my younger siblings for a break. Of course my dad was recovering and so was quite weak and unable to lift Wilf due to his stitches, (my mum is away at the moment). My family are absolutely fantastic and love Wilf to pieces, they amused him and let me go for long baths and (after a rather epic meltdown one night) my sister took it upon herself the next day to carry Wilf around for walks in his sling so I could catch a break. Still the nights were horrendous and Wilf refused to sleep until ten-ish most nights and then up again between 3.30am and 5am with about 100 get ups inbetween. I came down (and still have) some kind of cold that gave me hot sweats and then shivers through the night and a thick head during the day. I felt/feel so weak that I can barely lift him and the thought of breastfeeding has made me feel even more exausted. Basically I feel like I have nothing left.
Before I left (and Wilf had just got better from his illness) Tom and I argued about Wilf's sleep. My whole heart and being agree with gentle parenting. With him finding his own way to sleep longer stretches and us guiding him there with routines and stories and bath and cuddles. But hey the reality is? Its not working, and whilst a few months ago I was happy-ish with going with the flow, sleep deprived but positive I no longer feel that way. In fact each day I wake and feel frustrated and tired and long for the day to end, sure I still meet with friends and its not all miserable but its certainly not what I had envisioned when I day dreamed about becoming a mum. If I sound naive about how hard parenthood is then yep you got me, I never thought it would be this hard. And whilst I didn't assume my baby would sleep well from day one I didn't realise we would get to almost a year and still be surviving on less than an hour in a row. I also didn't realise the strain something like that can put on a relationship.
When i was pregnant and to this day I have read many a book on parenting, not on what stages they should be at or anything but on the science and understanding behind certain approaches. I feel most at home with books like 'The Attachment Parenting' book (although I had not heard of the style of parenting before I had Wilf) and also books like 'Three in a bed' on Co-sleeping, Gentle Birth/Gentle Mothering - on birth and raising your baby with a gentle approach and 'What Mothers Do' on giving yourself a break and understanding the small things you do with your child every day make them the people they are and is far more important than the housework. All these books find me nodding me head in agreement and ahh-ing in 'oh that makes sense!' and I felt happy with the way we were doing things as they fitted with my ethos and my gut instincts. Only what happens when the gentle way you want to parent is just not working??
And so I come to the topic of CIO (crying it out). I will admit that again in my naivety I used to think that people who did this were a) ill-informed or b) just plain mean. I used to think that parents who sleep trained this way did so so that they could get back to the routine of their pre-baby schedule as quickly as possible without any of the hard work. I thought they were ill informed about the dangers of cortisol levels and long term psychological damage. I'm embarrassed that I thought these things, please don't begrudge me for sharing that as I am stating I was wrong in my single minded point of view.
I now only have the upmost sympathy and understanding for parents who have reached this decision. I spoke to a few people about their experience of CIO, how they reached their decision ranged from near marital breakdowns, severe depression and one upon crashing and writing off her car in extreme sleep deprivation risking her and her child's life. My heart goes out to all those poor parents just struggling to do what is best for their families. I think you know when enough is enough and then what ever you choose to do to get by should be done with zero guilt.
Whilst I am still not comfortable with leaving Wilf alone for any amount of time to cry I think our next plan of action will unfortunately involve some crying. This may be crying in our arms or being soothed in his bed but as he currently can only fall asleep with motion (and being a rather heavy little boy my arms just cannot take this 12 times a day anymore) we are going to have to try and help him fall asleep himself. Again we are looking into other treatment on top of this, I am taking him to our GP to hopefully be referred to the Homopathic Dr's here in Bristol (something I have been meaning to do for a while but not got round to yet) to see if they can help. It is a constant worry that the reason he does not sleep for very long is due to some kind of discomfort. I only hope it is just a bad cycle he has gotten into and we can try and ease him out of as gently as possible.
NB: I wrote this in stages over the past four or five days, I am now back home in Bristol where I raged a fever all night long. Tom stepped in and took care of Wilf on his own throughout the night and although I was awake a fair bit (and hallucinating for some of it I think!) I think I may have slept better than I have in a year!