I'm not sorry our daughter sleeps well

6 Jul 2017

As soon as you share your happy news that you're expecting a baby, everyone gives you the same warning. Sleep. You'll never get a decent night's sleep again once you have a baby. Make sure you get all the sleep you can whilst your pregnant! Sleep when the baby sleeps, which is never! We're set up to expect a lifetime of sleepless nights, long days and constant exhaustion, but what if that isn't the case?

How to get your baby to sleep through the night

When Willow was born I actually expected the sleepless nights to start straight away, but for those first couples of weeks, she slept a lot. Unfortunately, most of that was during the day and so there were a lot of late night wake ups, constantly in fact throughout the night, for night feeds and then the gruelling task of winding her for at least 30 minutes after each feed. It was exhausting, without a doubt, but she slept so much through the day that I managed to 'sleep when she did', just like everyone told me too. 

Those first few weeks, I experienced sleep deprivation like I never knew possible - and this is coming from someone who revelled in partying from Friday night to Monday morning. Both me and M were hallucinating from it, which was actually a little bit funny and now we look back on it and laugh about the things we did; like him going through my maternity notes in the middle of the night, wiping down each page because he thought he was changing a nappy or the time he brought me a teaspoon when I'd asked him to come to bed after falling asleep on the sofa - he's still adamant I asked for the teaspoon and I very nearly put it in Willow's memory box for when she's older, a little inside joke about those sleepless few weeks. 

When M's paternity leave finished and he went back to work, I found it so much harder, because he wasn't able to get up in the night with me and for a while, I really resented him for that. I'd be sat in bed with a sobbing Willow, who struggled extremely bad with wind after feeds, and I wanted him to be going through it with me - but obviously, I let him sleep so he was rested for work and quietly cursed him inside my head whilst trying to wind and soothe our newborn. 

By 4 weeks I got used to the routine of having my sleep interrupted throughout the night, still napping as much as I could when she did through the day and I felt proud to be part of the 2am Club. By 6 weeks, we suddenly started to progress with sleep and Willow started sleeping for longer periods throughout the night, making my life a hell of a lot easier - three hours sleep in a row had me feeling like a new woman! 

More weeks flew by and we found ourselves in a mix of dealing with the sleep deprivation better, and Willow sleeping better/struggling a little less with wind, so having to spend less time after feeds helping to soothe her and make her comfortable. We'd been co-sleeping with our Snuzpod from birth and soon started bedsharing, too, from around a few days old, which I think massively contributed to her sleeping better, and I also noticed something. She didn't like going back in her Snuzpod after feeds and after speaking to my midwife, it clicked!, she didn't like going from a warm mama to a cold bed - so we started popping a hot water bottle in there during feeds to keep her bed nice and warm, which made a world of difference and she took to sleeping in her Snuzpod so much better. 

By 12 weeks? She was sleeping through. Quite a jump, right? I had spotted a chat on Twitter between two mamas trying endlessly to get their little ones to sleep better and they mentioned gentle sleep training (not to be confused with controlled crying/the cry it out method, which I personally would not do) and it had me intrigued. I did some research online and decided this was a method I could work with and so I put it into practice; within a couple of days nap times during the day were easier and bedtimes had improved tremendously. I was getting a full night's sleep (well, 4-5 hours at least, anyway), hurrah! 

Within a week, I felt confident getting her to sleep day or night and we had a perfect routine down. This continued the older she got and we now have a 17-month-old who from 12 weeks, has slept pretty perfectly, and since dropping her 'night feed' at 5.5 months (when she was ready to drop it) she has slept through consistently getting 11-13 hours a night. It's not just night time she sleeps well, her naps are like clockwork and she can sleep anywhere from 1.5 - 3 hours. The only time this routine is disrupted is when she is teething or poorly. We have even managed to skip every so-called sleep regression, gearing ourselves up for a disrupted routine and finding it never came. Not once. It's brilliant! I get a full night's sleep practically every night and we all wake up feeling ready to face the day. 

So why do I keep apologising to people when I tell them she sleeps so well? Why do I find myself making up excuses, saying we'll pay for it when she's older, or next time we have a baby, they'll be the opposite and we'll be on the other side of the fence, with no sleep and a life of sheer exhaustion ahead of us? I tell people we're lucky, that we're jinxed ourselves for when she's a teenager and turns into a devil child, I retreat into myself and wish I never mentioned that she sleeps so well, like it's something to be ashamed of. I see so many people saying that if you have a baby who sleeps well, you should just shut up and keep it to yourself because it's not fair on those who don't - but every baby is unique and if your baby doesn't sleep well? That's not my fault and it's not something I should be apologising for.

Yes, I am glad our daughter sleeps so well and no, I don't envy those who struggle to get their little ones to sleep well. Maybe we will pay for it when she's older, or next time we have a baby we could have the opposite situation and have a baby that never sleeps. Do I think we're lucky? Yes, but I don't think luck is the reason Willow sleeps so well, I think it just simply is. I'm tired - maybe not physically, but mentally, of apologising for having a baby that sleeps so well and I won't apologise anymore. 

I'm not sorry our daughter sleeps so well.