Tiny Human Beings Create Adult Human Zombies….. A few desperate words on baby sleep.

September 23, 2012

Somebody call me a whaaaaaambulance because I’m about to have a dirty great cry on your cyber shoulder.

I made a promise to myself about 3 months ago that I wasn’t going to bitch to you about the brain sapping exhaustion that goes hand in hand with mini-me munchkins. No one wants to read endless tomes about endless nights that culminate into endless exhaustion…..and I would say I’ve fairly well kept said promise, but I gotta break it….I just gotta…….cos I just gotta ask you guys –

Does anyone know anything about some kind of developmental brain fart that goes down at about 16 weeks?


Everything was going swimmingly. I was actually even bragging about Kiki’s sleep habits just a few weeks ago and now?

My bragging has bitten me on the butt and I have officially had the life sucked out of me by a be-dimpled, gurgling, zombie-maker.

I heard someone recently call it the four-month regression, but frankly, I don’t feel as though it’s a regression but she has never been as crapola at sleeping as she is at this present moment.
We’ve gone from a respectable two feeds a night, to a depressing three feeds, four other times of patting and shooshing and a sneak her into bed in the wee hours of dawn in an effort to get just a little bit of sleep before boy child awakens at dawn’s crack for a day of whirling dervish.

I feel as though the expression should be less ‘Sleeps like a baby’ and more ‘Sleeps like a crack-head going cold turkey’.

After 11 months of no sleep with D Man, I called in a Sleep Angel (as I wrote about here) and I’m wondering if the same action is required shortly, or am I just panicking?
I was so determined not to make the same mistakes, but have I unwittingly done so by soothing those cries, amplified by darkness, with the breast, or do I just hatch inherently scheisse sleepers?

I read an interesting blog post from Heart Mama about babies learning to sleep and she suggests that we should adjust our expectations of baby sleep and just leave them to their own devices, and they’ll get it eventually.
I think that sounds really beautiful, and organic, and gentle, but how many months of waking every hour, or half hour, or ten minutes do you struggle through before you decide enough is enough? Or do you just ride it out?

I’ve heard horror stories of kids not sleeping through the night still at 4, 5 and 6 years of age. Not going to bed nicely when they’re in school, or still waking multiple times…..oh god, kill me now. Just something fast, like a knitting needle through my ear.
It’s true that I have never met a grown up who still cried for mummy in the night…..I reckon they’re out there though.

Sleep deprivation is unquestionably a form of torture.

Sleep deprivation is used by torturers because it makes a person more suggestible, reduces psychological resistance and it reduces the body’s capacity to resist pain. Sleep deprivation can cause impaired memory and cognitive functioning, decreased short term memory, speech impairment, hallucinations, psychosis, lowered immunity, headaches, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stress, anxiety and depression, according to Gretchen Borchelt, JD & Christian Pross, MD in ‘Systematic Use of Psychological Torture by US Forces’, Torture, vol.15(1), 2005

 (It forgot to mention car accidents)

Around here, Kiki, the cooing torturess, tortures me by night, and in turn, I torture Mister H and D Man by day with my consummate case of the irrits.

I do think that Kiki is still too young for sleep training, but I also know that 6 more months of this and my mind may be permanently bent, if not broken, and I will certainly be the size of a house, due to munching for energy.

I was trying to hang some washing out the other day and Kiki was screaming her little lungs out in the lounge……it was a beautiful day so the house was all open and I’m guessing you could hear her on the street, perhaps even in a neighbouring suburb.
Why am I guessing this, you ask?
Because a complete stranger came up to my gate and yelled out to me.

“Excuse me, do you have a baby?”

No, it’s a freaking dolphin making that noise in my lounge room, I thought. My narkiness is at an all time high when my sleep is at an all time low.

“I do” I replied, eyebrows raised as though in a dare.

“I think it’s crying”

No shit. To add insult to injury she looked at me like, by leaving Kiki crying for a minute while I hung out the washing, I was a child abuser.

Instead of being grateful, my tired, cranky-panted self wanted to throw something at her, but all I had in my hand was Mister H’s cycling shorts. I somehow don’t think they’d have quite the effect I was looking for. Instead, I gave a smile that probably looked look I was trying to swallow a cat turd and thanked her.

“Thank you, yes, I can hear her

I was so cranky with her, like it was her fault I was deathly tired, or that Kiki’s lung exercises were reverberating inside my brain. She hightailed from my gate pretty quickly. I think she may have got the vibe that cycling shorts to the head were, although not scary, imminent.

I love how everyone gives you the advice to sleep when the baby sleeps. Sometimes I even plan to, but you know what? Babies, and toddlers, have an innate sense of comedic timing. The very second you slip off your shoes, your head hits the pillows and your weary bones emit a little sigh of relief then one or t’other is up and at it.
Or the guy across the road starts his leaf blower. Or I remember something I forgot to do….like turn off the stove.
Tiredness is akin to temporary retardation. I forget words mid-sentence, leave the TV remote in the freezer, and doze dangerously whilst having an evening bath.

Anyway, I shan’t go on and on and on, I just wanted to have a little vent and ensure the whole world gets it when I say,

Find out what it means to me,
Oh, I’m cranky
Oh,(sock it to me, sock it to me) a little fatigued.
Yeah,(sock it to me, sock it to me) a little fatigued.

Possibly a tad delirious, too, me thinks???

Can’t imagine another reason I’d be channeling Aretha.


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  • Reply Belinda Galbraith September 23, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Awesome blog post! I totally feel your pain with the no sleep thing! I have a 3 year old and a 9 month old and it seems as soon as I convince the 3 year old to have a rest, the other one wakes up. And jeez, what did that stranger think they were going to achieve by telling you the baby was crying!! You should’ve thrown the bike shorts at em!

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 23, 2012 at 9:01 am

      this too shall pass…this too shall pass……
      Remember if once felt like your first born would never sleep and then after a few weeks of full nights you forgot all about that tiredness? It’s coming again…..hang in there.

  • Reply Fabulous Mommy September 23, 2012 at 8:21 am

    I so get you sister. At 10 months, my darling boys still wake repeatedly. On a good night 4 or 5 times for a quick pat or a dummy. On a bad night, like Wednesday last week, I got a total of 30min sleep. Total! Finally after hours of screaming babies I kicked my wife out of bed. She lasted two hours before she woke me to take over again.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 23, 2012 at 9:02 am

      As soon as those monkeys are sleeping through for a few weeks, you’ll forget all about this yucky bit. I’ve been here before and I know it doesn’t last forever…..remember that!

      • Reply Fabulous Mommy September 24, 2012 at 7:50 am

        Unfortunately just when the boys start sleeping well we’ll probably be planning to conceive sprog #3. The idea makes me feel a little ill. How does one recover from 4 consecutive years of crap sleep?

  • Reply Zanni Arnot September 23, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Hi Danielle,
    I feel your pain. I truly do. Elka wasn’t a great sleeper for such a long time, and I was tearing my hair out at points. She was waking every two hours or more for a long time – her broken sleep continued until she was 15 months. I don’t know why I didn’t experience absolute sleep deprivation. It all fell on my shoulders, but somehow, I was able to carry through.
    I didn’t say “never sleep train”…I wanted to represent the other side, though, as there is so much emphasis on sleep training in our culture, it worries me that people move towards it as a matter of course, because it is the normal done thing, rather than because it is the best thing for baby and mother alike. I am glad your sleep angel was able to help you with the first, and you got what you needed. You are right, sleep is an essential way of looking after ourselves, so we can hence look after our children.
    I guess sleep is just about everyone’s battle ground at some point in the process. For me, it was about relinquishing my expectations so I could sink into it…I know that’s not for everyone, but it worked for me and my baby.

    Good luck to you. I wish you a good night’s sleep eventually. Zanni, Heart Mama x

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 23, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Hey Heart Mama, Zanni…thanks for dropping by. I love your blog. You’re a very gentle soul, with a soothing voice….it’s a nice change from my wisecracking view on motherhood!
      I was discussing this very thing with my Dad, who was here recently, and he said when we were kids there was no such thing as sleep training. People just sucked it up….my bro and I were great sleepers according to my mum so I don’t think my Dad sucked up too much at all!
      It has definitely become a thing of great emphasis, and with all of the books and options, if your babe continues to do the midnight shuffle for months it can contribute to feelings of inadequacy and insanity!

      I don’t think there is an easy answer, except that this too shall pass.
      ‘it was about relinquishing my expectations so I could sink into it…I know that’s not for everyone, but it worked for me and my baby.’…’s sentences like these that make me love your blog.
      Sorry if my paraphrasing offended you!!

      Have a sensational sunday x

      • Reply Zanni Arnot September 24, 2012 at 11:39 am

        No offence at all Danielle! I just hoped I didn’t come across too polarising, because I really get that people struggle so much with sleep. It’s one of the most impossible things to deal with. Thank you for your beautiful words, and for the link to my blog. xx

  • Reply juliemumonwheels September 23, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Totally get you my youngest was nightmare from day one every two hours join night and now you ask 2 years old nightmare of waking join night leave him to it he plays sings if no toys there till he falls asleep I feel for you I’m lucky four years between my two so at least I can nap when two year old gos to pre-school and oldest school
    Hope things get better soon next time someone says your baby cry say you told its good for baby’s to cry as old wife’s tall says . And 16 weeks is common for colic and teething?

  • Reply SimplySimplisticComplexities September 23, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Hi there new to your blog. Your straight forward sincerity is a breath of fresh air!
    My son Landon was much the same! Might I suggest instead of worrying about it or feeling inadequate. Take a breath in those forsaken hours and sometimes let her cry. Check on her, let her know you’re there. Wait five minutes. Come back if she is still awake. Every child if different. You ever wake up in the middle of the night for no reason? I’m not saying to change or “stop” your schedule, that is very important. But if by thirty minutes nothing has worked allow you baby some belly time on the floor mat. Talk to her, coo. Some children need more mental stimuli then others. Some are blessed with being a night owl. You may have to curb it later on as well. ( It is more prominent in little girls.) Studies do show they usually speak on average months before little boys. Don’t try too hard to impress your rules on your babes. They’ll learn in due time and respect you more for it. Funny thing is its just love. = ) Its our best arsenal. They’ll never know what hit em!
    I look forward to seeing more posts and familiarizing myself with older posts.

  • Reply empressnasigoreng September 23, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Oh that’s tough. I seem to remember 4mo being a terrible time for breastfeeding as all they want to do is look around at everything else that is going on. That might explain the poor sleeping as well, ie, too much else to see. Hope it passes or you can manage to get some day naps or something so as to get by.

  • Reply Dida Sundet September 23, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    I hear you loud and clear. I can’t remember the last time I slept more than two hours in one go. Can’t say I don’t bitch about it though, because I do. All the time. Gotta vent somewhere right? Good luck! xx

  • Reply westendmaw September 24, 2012 at 7:42 am

    We’re approaching 15 weeks here (well the baby is – I started counting in years a while ago now but y’know what I mean) and waking much more frequently – it is tiring isn’t it? We bed share with the baby and I have to say it makes it a lot less hassle, I’m still exhausted but at least i don’t have to get out of bed and thank goodness for that because it’s starting to get cold here at night!

    This too shall pass!

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      I had visions of rooming in with my babies for 6 months, but man, it was like sleeping at the zoo. I’m such a light sleeper, I never got a wink!
      It will pass…….before you know it, really.

  • Reply Bunny Eats Design September 24, 2012 at 10:19 am

    ‘Sleeps like a crack-head going cold turkey’ Now THAT is a great simile.
    No advice to you, but I’d never heard of a Sleep Angel before so thanks for the tip in case I ever have a little crack-head going cold turkey of my own. Hang in there D.

    I wonder, with my belly grumbling at me today, what would make me crankier. Lack of sleep, or lack of food?

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      Whoa, baby. you don’t want to see me tired AND hungry.
      Look out!

      I’m thinking of you today, starting your big challenge x

  • Reply faydanamyjake September 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    A few random thoughts. I started both mine on babyrice made up with formula or boobie milk at 3 months. just a few spoonfuls a few feeds before the milk. With Amy I was a month early as per the current accepted wisdom. With jake it was 3 months early. ( you can probably guess what I think about the accepted wisdom) both slept wonderfully from then on. The other thought it a late night feed about 11 before you go to bed. encouraging good food intake at night, some babies seem to try to go easy just when you want them to have the most. don’t forget the social aspect. don’t they smile about now? shes probably loving your company and wants you two to party * all night long* once the food possibility is taken care of I would look into not making bad habits about middle of the night socialsing..can you get one of those musical gizmos that start up if she cries or with a remote. or a heart beat bear I love those. GOOD LUCK!

  • Reply faydanamyjake September 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Oh .. just thought. I don’t know how you are feeding ( express?) but working a tag team worked so well with Jake. my midwife suggested it. With amy i did it all and i was on my knees. with Jake Dan would do the 11pm as he came to bed ( i went eartlier to get some zzz in) then I would do 2am ( Jake was 3 hourly for ages) then Dan would do 5am and go to work at 6. so he got 6 hours in a row, mine was more fragmented but I got more too. ( 5 hours before the first feed, ) 5 hours is the golden number don’t you find? less than 5 and you feel like death more than and you are ok? feeding in the babies room not yours so the other person can sleep. goodness I feel your pain. Thank you for reminding me. You are a powerful contraceptive 🙂

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 26, 2012 at 7:13 am

      your last line cracked me up! Can you believe after my dirty great whinge, she’s slept better! I’ll whine more often, huh?
      Thanks for your great words of advice.
      We are on day 4 of solids, but you know how that first couple of weeks can be. A mouthful in, a colourful wet raspberry out, half a morsel swallowed……it’s a journey!

      • Reply faydanamyjake September 26, 2012 at 7:22 am

        Good news indeed! 🙂 It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking this is my life now.. (a ruined, exhausted, weepy lump of babyfood splatters.. well it was for me,)then it passes and you emerge bleary eyed but hopeful. till next time 🙂

  • Reply Nina September 25, 2012 at 3:29 am

    I loved reading this because it reminds me so much of the hell I went through the first six months with my kiddo. We eventually had to sleep train and after that everyone was much happier. Still, those first few months were pretty terrible. I tell myself not to make the same mistakes, so we’ll see if I’ve learned from them the second time around.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 26, 2012 at 7:16 am

      Keep me posted on that…..I’m definitely doing many things differently, and gung ho on self settling, or minimal help in the day, but in the middle of the night, trying to let Mister H get sleep as he’s training so hard, or not wake D Man…’s an easy trap!!!

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