It was 10am or 12.45…I couldn’t tell the difference. All I know is that my baby hadn’t slept more than 2 hours for close to a month, and I had not had more than 3 hours at a time since he was born. We were both at our wits end – so highly strung and frightfully frazzled we were weak at the seams. All of my insides felt like they were spilling out and I yearned for the feeling I had when my baby was 4 months old where I told my husband one night that I felt like I was dying, slowly, bit by bit each day. Because this was so much worse.

Tears streamed over stains that were there from the night before – I had not yet had a moment to wash my face. I finally got my baby to sleep for a blessed 20 minutes, and so I phoned my best friend.

Normally I didn’t phone. Normally I took it and said to myself: ‘This is what you signed up for. It will get better.’ But that day I had to tell someone, another mother, how I was feeling.

“It’s just so hard,” was all I could articulate. “I know, honey,” was all she needed to say. I felt, in that moment, for one second of connection with another human being who had gone through this years before and survived, that the light at the end of the tunnel would eventually come back on.

We spoke for as long as he slept, and I cried and spluttered out all my frustrations. I spoke and spoke in circles, making no sense I’m sure, saying nothing and everything in a torrent of emotion. The truth is motherhood is hard.

SO hard. No one could possibly prepare you for it. No matter how much you love your baby (and we all do with every fibre of our being) no matter how many sweet moments there are, when you don’t sleep for half a year, you suffer. You feel completely alienated, caged, alone. You get caught up in the fact that you had no idea – NO idea – what you were in for, and so you feel that no one else could possibly understand. Which just makes things worse.

“Am I the only one? Am I failing dismally?” I asked her on the phone. I racked my brains and tried to remember how my friends who had babies while I was so still blissfully free and unaware behaved – looking for some little clue that I had missed. Were they suffering too or is it just me who can’t cope?

I felt completely useless and spent.

If the first 6 weeks post birth is a fog, then that last month of my life had been a thick, black tar.

I was fortunate not to have post-partum depression. I was my cheerful self from 12 hours of natural un-medicated labour to cesarean section to bleeding nipples. I was my usual light-hearted self from explosive poo nappies to 24hour vomit around the clock (reflux baby). I was my easy going, smiley self from post-partum blood clots to debilitating baby brain. But the sleep – the sleep was what did me in.

“Here she lies, done in by an infant who would not sleep,” would have been on my tombstone had we not eventually, out of sheer desperation, called a sleep therapist. Sleep training is not for everyone, but for me, it was the difference between Disney and Tarantino.

All it took was a little tough love (being there soothing my child in his cot, but not actually picking him up) and poof! We had our first 6 hour sleep in 7 whole months.

I know that with motherhood, the phrase ‘This too shall pass’ becomes a mantra. But this one. Phew. This one was a toughy. Lets hope nothing worse awaits around the corner.

Now, almost 1 month into the training, it’s a new world. My baby has slept soundly between 11pm and 5am for 2 weeks and he is starting to sleep in the day at nap time too. I can barely believe that it was less than a month ago when I called my friend.

It dawned on me that even though it can feel like the worst thing in the world, and I can feel completely alone – even though Husband and I grapple with wild eyes wondering if we will ever get through this – it is so important to pick up the phone once in a while and speak to another parent. Because they are the veterans. They are the trained bomb squad. They are the ones who are proof that we will live to enjoy another day, and will help us step away from the edge.








IMAGE: Via TheRealtimeReport