There are a million ways that babies and adults are different, but there's one in particular that most new parents just can't get their head around.
I'm happy to report I no longer eat porridge with my hands, or put the bowl on my head at breakfast. I don't drink from a bottle (unless it's been a particularly testing week) and though, after having twins they would be quite useful actually, I no longer wear nappies.
I do however, love my sleep (old friend, how I miss you) but my children just don't.
I'd like to meet the (presumably childless) fool who coined the phrase "sleeping like a baby" and unleash a team of lawyers on them. Because you, whoever you are, are guilty of mis-selling us a dream. And yes, having not slept for a year and a half, I do see the irony there!
Then there are the books. When one comes with a crystal ball, I'll happily give it a 5 star rating on Amazon and sell my worldly possessions to pay for it. Until then I shall save you some time and money.
1. Books fall into 2 categories so decide which camp you're in ...
A) Pop your little one in the shed, stick your earplugs in and by morning the needy little so-and-so will know who's boss. You need a military-style routine which prevents you doing anything with anyone else for the first year of their life.
B) Don't put them down for a second. Learn to do everything with one hand and 2 bags of potatoes on one hip, then when it's bedtime let them kick, scratch and smack you all night long because 3 am is party time and baby wants to play!
2. Trust your instincts. Many books will charge you £10 to tell you every baby is different and you know best.
Dear author, we don't, that's why your book sales have paid off your mortgage.
3. If you have time to read these books, you probably don't really need them. If you are completely sleep-deprived you don't really feel like grabbing a book at 2 in the morning when you have (finally) got them back to sleep for possibly, 7 minutes. Give up sleep to read a book on sleep? What??
4. You will need to learn to spot the 30 second window between your baby being under-tired and over-tired.
This is impossible.
5. If all the techniques don't work then your baby is probably ill, teething, learning a new skill or going through a growth spurt. This covers approximately 99% of their young lives.
I wish someone had told me about the unicorns too. You know, the babies who you have to WAKE UP to feed, who happily nod off in the buggy while mummy and daddy have a lovely long lunch together. They do actually exist (I know, right?) but they aren't the norm. They are the exception, so rare in fact, that most of us do not believe they really exist.
They do actually, my friend just gave birth to one.
I am considering unfriending her.
Ignore the unicorns.
Finally, remember how much you loved your friends and family before you became a mum? This may change when you are a parent of a baby that doesn't like sleep.
When they offer advice take a deep breath and do your best not to completely lose it. Tough at the best of times I know, but when you're exhausted it's like one of the 7 labours of Hercules!
"Have you tried a dummy / swaddling / walking them in the buggy / taking them for a drive?"
"Have you checked that they aren't hungry / too cold / too hot / need a nappy change?"
If you can, resist the urge to shout "YES OF COURSE I HAVE! " and run screaming from the room.
They mean well.
And know that it's not personal. Your baby doesn't hate you, you're not doing anything wrong, and you're not the only one, whatever the other mums at mother-and-baby-club hell might tell you!
I swear our twins prefer knackered mummy and daddy because I can't shake the feeling that they secretly plot to make sure they're ill or teething at slightly different times, ensuring we can never have a night when they sleep through AT THE SAME TIME.
TWIN 1: "I love it when she's tired."
TWIN 2: "Me too, she just sits down and plays with us because she hasn't got the energy to do anything else!"
TWIN 1: "I think she wants to take us out tomorrow though :( "
TWIN 2: "Well I was up all night teething and I'm shattered today. She'll definitely give me Calpol before bed so can you take tonight?"
TWIN 1: "No worries bro, get set for a whole day of Peppa Pig ;) "
TWIN 2: " Yay ... DINOSAUR!!!!"
TWIN 1: "I hate George. And Dinosaurs"
TWIN 2: "What IS a dinosaur?"
TWIN 1: "They are REALLY old and a bit scary."
TWIN 2: "Like mummy?"
TWIN 1: "Yes."
TWIN 2: "Mummy is a dinosaur! Peeeeeeeeeeppa pig!"
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