In a moment I am going to write a sentence, a sentence which I am already beginning to regret writing (even before it's on the page). We are beginning to see the end of sleep deprivation. There, I did it, and no doubt in turn have tempted fate to return us to the depths of sleep deprivation hell. That's the way it goes isn't it? You don't sleep for years and then you have a few days of rest and you feel human again. You hear yourself saying, 'oh they are sleeping through this week' and then that's it, two more years of sleep deprivation. Total. Schoolboy. Error.
Having had six years of sleep deprivation I am beginning to class myself as a bit of an expert. I realise there are others out there with three or four or five kids that don't sleep. I have only had two, but of my two my first was undoubtedly the worst sleeper ever in the history of sleepers. I love sleep. Pre children I could sleep twenty hours out of twenty four and still want more. Then this tiny red faced screaming person arrived and I must have pondered over why she hated me many times. So as I am, today, bold enough to hope those days are behind me, I felt I should share the seven stages one has to pass to get to this point. If you are still on stage one, DO NOT DESPAIR they go quicker than you could ever imagine.
1- Adrenaline fuelled sleep deprivation. This is probably the easiest. Yes you are physically and emotionally knackered after labour, your body hurts, you have been awake for thirty six hours and are dreaming of a warm bath. BUT, then this tiny person gets handed to you, they clutch your finger in their small fist, they smell like freshly baked cookies, and you melt. You can handle every moment of sleep deprivation as you hold them, kiss them, smell them and Instagram them about 200 times a minute.
2- Adrenaline has worn off sleep deprivation. This is by far the hardest. The initial Adrenaline has worn off. Your baby is now one to three months old and yet you haven't even caught up on rest since labour. Everytime you get them to sleep by the moment you lie down the phone rings, someone knocks on the door, the dog barks, then they are awake again. You are pretty sure you didn't used to get this many heart palpitations.
3- Life must go on sleep deprivation. So you have begun settling into life as a new parent. You are making more trips out and about. You are managing the house hold chores... well sort of... okay so yesterday you put the dirty clothes in the dishwasher, you brushed your teeth with hand wash and you almost threw up in the supermarket through tiredness, but it will be alright, won't it?
4- The 'I hate everyone' sleep deprivation. You hear them at baby group, bragging about how their angel sleeps through the night ALREADY, while your angel is still up five times a night at almost a year old. You hate them, of course they are probably a perfectly nice person, but you hate them. You also hate your husband as snores beside you in bed, totally oblivious to the fact you have not yet slept a wink. You hate every well wisher for giving you 'tips' as if you hadn't already tried them all? You have visions of murdering Super Nanny and if your Mother in Law tells you one more time that you must be doing something wrong you may be adding her to the list.
5- Sleep training hell deprivation. You have now convinced yourself you are doing it all wrong. The only way you can get your baby to sleep is by co sleeping and all the books tell you that's wrong so you try sleep training. But nowhere does it give advice on how to deal with the most stubborn, clever baby in the world. The baby that will poop so you have to get it out of bed, or make themself sick, or learn how to climb out of the cot. Seven minutes in the whole family is crying and you write off the training and go back to co sleeping and lots of wake ups.
6- Somehow things are getting easier, it may be because you are used to it now, or perhaps it's because you are getting a little bit more sleep, but you have gone a whole week without putting salt in your coffee or forgetting to put your boob away after feeding.
7- The coming out of it phase. This is the most dangerous of all. You suddenly have more energy so you begin forgetting exactly how hard sleep deprivation was and this usually ends one of two ways - either you bring up in conversation the fact you have slept through all month, so fate makes your kid get a cold and then you are up twenty times a night. This of course feels harder than any night ever before because your body has forgotten how to cope. Or you get pregnant again. Sleep deprivation, well it wasn't THAT bad was it?