This was not the blog I intended to write tonight. Things have been going well – 3 year old L is in a good routine, she has fun at nursery in the mornings and then we spend our afternoon together. 3 month old J is so far an ‘easy baby’ and he naps and sleeps well and we get to spend our mornings just the two of us. We have the elusive ‘routine’ recommended by all the baby books and sites.
Our sleep has been pretty good. Then today it all went wrong. The overtired baby won’t sleep and I feel like a total failure.
Don’t piss the baby off
Today J got woken up at 6.40am (as usual) when L came in to say good morning. She’s chatty in the mornings and her favourite person to chat to is her brother, so he doesn’t have much chance of sleeping through it. He had his usual 7am feed, then normally he likes to go back to sleep and have a little morning nap. However, today my husband G had to be in work early so J and I took L to nursery. This happens from time to time and normally J just naps in the car instead of his cot, he’s fairly easygoing like that.
Clearly today though, he really wanted to nap in his cot and did not appreciate being lifted out and strapped in to a car seat. J was pissed off.
Please have a nap
J made the fact that he was pissed off clear by refusing to nap all day. He’s usually very easygoing – he puts himself to sleep in his cot, or his car-seat, or his baby rocker, or in my arms… once he fell asleep just lying on the grass outside whilst I was trying to catch his sister,
Today though J clearly felt that I had been taking his good nature for granted. He wouldn’t nap. Occasionally he dropped off for ten minutes or so but then he woke up angry again.
I tried everything – his ‘hummy‘, his dummy, rocking him myself, pacing the floor, singing, putting him in his baby rocker, putting him in his baby carrier to walk, walking him in the pram (it was pouring with rain and I looked like someone losing the plot), driving him in the car (looped the same mobile speed camera van four times, think they thought I was trying to get caught or was in some sort of hostage situation… which was actually sort of the case). Nothing worked. J was not for sleeping.
When did he finally fall asleep? Exactly sixteen minutes before I had to pick his sister up from nursery. He woke up when I then had to put him in the car seat.
I’m begging you, please have a nap
Poor L comes home ready for our usual playtime and instead is confronted by a crying baby. This is very unusual for J and she loves him more than anything, so she tries everything she can to cheer him up – cuddles, kisses, rocking him in his chair, showing him toys, reading him books… if anything this extra stimulation pisses him off more.
Eventually I am losing my temper because I’ve tried everything and he won’t sleep and yet he’s crying because he needs to sleep and that MAKES NO BLOODY SENSE FFS. L starts crying because she’s tired, she’s been stuck listening to a crying baby all afternoon and hasn’t had anyone to play with and it’s now dinner time and I’m trying to make it one-handed whilst holding a screaming J who is doing the patented baby ‘scream and extend’ move that makes them rigid as a board and near impossible to hold, particularly one handed. Putting him down exacerbates the screaming and his rigidity renders any attempt to insert him in to the baby carrier completely pointless.
I somehow make dinner, bath L, get J in to his cot and asleep (hallelujah, praises be) and am about to do L’s bedtime story when J wakes up again. He’s been on hunger strike all afternoon as he’s too tired to feed so of course he’s now woken up hungry.
I’m so happy to see another adult
Thankfully G arrives home early and takes over with L, who is literally bouncing off the bed with excitement that daddy is home early enough to do stories. This excitement makes her hyper so we now have an overtired hyper toddler and an overtired baby, neither of whom will sleep. L eventually realises she’s exhausted but clearly feels it’s the night to empathise with her baby brother, so she starts crying about being tired and refuses to sleep.
An hour and a half (it feels like ten) later and we have finally succeeded in persuading J to feed and getting both of our overtired children to fall asleep. In the end, J elects to fall asleep lying in his cot with me beside him (God bless the ‘next to me‘ crib), which is exactly what I’d been trying to get him to do for hours whilst cycling through my repertoire of sleep tricks.
I burst in to tears and inform G that I’m a crap mum and L had a rubbish afternoon and J was miserable and clearly it’s all my fault. G reassures me that it’s just been a bad day and mixes me a large rhubarb and ginger gin with ginger ale (I know it sounds weird but it’s the most delicious thing, trust me). Life starts to look a little brighter.
I have no solutions
If you’re reading this because you also have an overtired baby who won’t sleep, then I can only apologise – I have no solutions. You can read my other blogs about what’s helped with our kids sleep and most of the time we’re now really lucky with how they both sleep.
But, as today demonstrates, sometimes no matter what you do, they just won’t sleep. It is soul-destroying. When they’re crying and you know they just need sleep but they won’t allow you to help them by going to sleep, it makes you desperate and more than a little bit crazy.
If you’re starting to tip over in to anger, put the baby down and get help – your partner if you have one, a relative, a friend, anyone. If you’re doing this alone without a partner then absolutely massive respect to you, I honestly don’t know how you cope.
And just try to remember that they will (eventually) sleep and this is just a bad day. Treat yourself to a drink (I strongly recommend the rhubarb and ginger gin). And remember, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, you really are doing great.
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