So in the 9 months I’ve known her my baby has never been a fan of naps. It’s by far been the hardest and most depressing part of motherhood for me. I have been in tears on the floor of the nursery on more than a few occasions when she simply refuses to sleep. On the whole going to bed at night has been ok, there have been problems but that’s a story for another day.
I have a confession to make, it’s horrific but hopefully I will feel better after telling you this.. I breastfeed her before every nap to the point of her being completely milk drunk. Then I put her down. I am shitting myself about what is going to happen when I decide to move on from breastfeeding (I go back to work in 10 weeks – eeek!!). She can settle herself to sleep, she does it at night but due to aforementioned hatred of napping I have to do something and this is the only thing that sort of works. But let me tell you this – it doesn’t always work! Or it does but she wakes up after 30 minutes (or less).
I was under the impression that babies slept for most of the first few weeks of life. I was also under the impression that after the initial few weeks they then went to nice long two hour naps every afternoon with a shorter nap in the morning and late afternoon. I now know that this is complete and utter horseshit. I’ve trawled the internet for hours trying to find out how to get this holy grail of naps – the two hour lunchtime snoozefest – and what I have discovered it that many babies aren’t even capable of this until at least 6 months. Most newborns are catnappers.. 30 minutes here, 45 minutes there. Just enough time for you to get in the shower and perhaps brush your teeth. Sleep when they sleep? Unless you forgo any aspirations of being clean or fed this is never an option.
So after reluctantly accepting my catnapper I chilled out a little bit on the naps. It’s bloody hard though, I love my baby with all my heart but fuck sake an hours break would go down a storm around here at times. And then one day she sleeps for an hour and 45, next day an hour, maybe an hour and a half. And you realise she has past the catnapper stage. For us that was about 8 months. She is now on one morning nap of about 90 minutes and the same in the afternoon.. on a good day. When the planets align and there are 5 Sundays in the month.
The days when this doesn’t happen, like yesterday are the bad days. She went down for her afternoon nap as usual and woke up 30 minutes later like the antichrist.. still tired.. and now furious. I did everything I could to get her back to sleep to no avail.. and herein lies the problem. Ok she hasn’t slept, she is tired, she may be grumpy for the afternoon. But all that is nothing compared to the utter horror of spending two hours trying to get her back to sleep. There are tears (mine) tantrums (mine) nappy changes (hers) rocking, singing, boob, hair pulling (both) and eventually she is downstairs playing and I am half dead on the ground next to her. What I should do is get her up, get her in the buggy and get out of the house. Or get out all her toys and give in. Either way I should give in. Because it’s utter misery trying to get a baby to go to sleep when they don’t want to. It’ll ruin my day to the point where I am actually depressed. So why don’t I throw on a pair of shoes and head out walking with her? Because ladies and gentlemen I need a fucking break sometimes.. and the only real break is when they are asleep. Even then it’s not great, constantly checking the monitor to make sure I can hear it, wiping steam off the shower door so I can see the monitor in case I can’t hear it. But it’s necessary for Mammy that break is the only thing that keeps me from calling up work and asking if I can come back earlier.
Today is a good day.. she is asleep, and for that I am thankful.