PARENTS

The Newborn Diaries: Not-Sleeping Beauty

04/07/2011 12:20 | Updated 22 May 2015
The Newborn Diaries: Not-sleeping beautyMaximising all our hours awake by styling D's hair

Whenever anyone asks me if baby D sleeps through the night, I smugly smile and say, "Yes, we're very lucky."

Until one day a couple of weeks ago, when my (irritated) husband turned to me and said: "You realise Diana gets up about five times a night, right? And I'm the one waking up to deal with things?" And then he sent me an email at 4am the following morning to prove it, which I didn't receive until I woke up... at 8-o'clock-ish?

Fabulous. I'm the mother that can't hear the distress cries of my own flesh and blood. I'm sure this would be considered an epic failure on the parenting success scale.

I suspected this would happen. Pre-arrival of baby D, I used to wonder how I would ever wake up to her cries when I can sleep through anything, including fire alarms. An alarm clock with a sound that's loud, annoying and long enough to rouse me has yet to be invented.

Breastfeeding did the trick for a while. My hormones kept me on high alert, allowing me to sleep deeply but instantly wake up the second baby D needed milk. Now that I'm no longer breastfeeding (but still, peculiarly, producing milk – apparently it can last up to six months after you stop), the connection is gone. I am back to my fairytale-deep slumbers.

I would feel less bad about my feckless parenting if I was at least well-rested and glowing. But of course I'm not. I look - and feel - like an extra in a zombie film these days.

Part of the problem is that D hasn't been sleeping as much during the day, either. Last week, when my little bundle of energy woke up at 6am one morning, I didn't feel alarmed. It's happened plenty of times, and by 8am the babe is so exhausted that she usually sleeps for another couple of hours.

Not anymore. D refused to sleep all morning, was super cranky as a result, and consented to a 20-minute power nap after noon. She was back at full throttle until the early evening, when she again opted to rest only for a conservative 30 minutes.

Household chores and my work are understandably suffering, as is my memory (I have been embarrassingly bad with keys and birthdays in particular).

What worries me most is that if a perpetually exhausted person isn't meant to be operating heavy machinery, shouldering the responsibility of looking after an infant seems like a rather dangerous prospect.

On the plus side, D and I get to do fun things with all of our extra time together. Today we used sun cream as hair gel to see what baby D's hair (yes, she has hair now!) would look like in a celebrity-baby quiff à la Kingston Rossdale.

I think she's rocking the look, but then again, I'm kind of tired. But my husband may be even more so.

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