Why won't you sleep?

Updated: Jun 29, 2019

Written by Felicity Rowe

It’s 10pm, and I’ve resettled my little guy for the 3rd time tonight already. This isn’t an isolated incident. In fact it’s becoming the norm….

The last 3 nights he’s been awake hourly (and that’s being generous) and each time he wakes, he gets harder and harder to resettle. My husband and i start each night out united in our approach, determined to help this little guy get some rest, determined to get some rest ourselves, but as the night draws on and the hours tick by, it all goes out the window and we just stumble our way through until it’s morning.

It all started with the ‘4 month sleep regression’ and it basically never stopped. It’s been 5 months of broken sleep, and apart from the random ‘good night’ here or there (and let me context a good night is about 3-4 wake ups with a block of 3 hours sleep IF we are lucky) the little guy is so unsettled and wakes almost every sleep cycle.

You see we never had these troubles with our first born. Apart from the initial collicky phase and the odd rough night cutting a tooth, she slept. She slept in her cot, in her room, on average for 12 hours a night. Looking back now, it was effortless. And i thought it would be this time too. Hell, if anything i thought it would be easier. I’ve done it before, I will just do it again. How hard can it be?

But it is hard this time. It is hard seeing your little one struggling to sleep. It breaks you. I’ve broken more than once and i’m pretty sure i’ll break again.

For me it’s not the sleep derivation. I can handle that. I’ve had my share of sleepless nights in the past and I know i’ll sleep again. No, it’s not that, for me, it’s the overwhelming feeling of helplessness. The utter confusion about what is going on and the fact that this is a puzzle I can’t seem to solve. It’s soul destroying. I hate failure. The lack of control. The lack of direction and the sense of disarray.

And everyone has advice….. Is it teething? Must be a wonder week! Sounds like he’s hungry he must not be getting enough during the day if he’s waking that much at night…… Why don’t you just let him cry for a bit, you know in my day we didn’t have baby monitors and you kids turned out alright! What temperature is his room - he’s waking up cold. You know what you need to do, give him a bath at 10pm. He’s getting too much sleep during the day…. He’s not getting enough sleep during the day…. And so on….

Sometimes I want the advice, to hear what worked for feel like i’m not alone and that this is…. normal. But some days I think "screw you". I didn’t ask for your help. Don’t you think i’ve tried all of that? Don’t you think i have thought of every bloody thing that could be going on and done everything I can to work through this phase? It’s almost insulting.

And so you try to diagnose, and medicate, you rub teething gel on the gums, offer Nurofen then Panadol, change the nappy, feed him, and repeat the process.

So tonight, when I heard that cry for the 3rd time since put down and i went into his room, I cried. I just cried, not because I'm tired, but because I’ve tried this and I’ve tried that and he’s still waking up crying and I don’t know why. And apart from the fact that I want to appease his cry and help him sleep and relieve any pain he might be in, I hate not being able to fix this. When I started crying, he almost sensed my sadness, and he settled. His body relaxed, he settled and he looked up at me, touched my face and looked at me and in that moment, i realised that we are in this together. He’s just as confused and scared and overwhelmed as I am. And i knew that we would keep working our way through it, together.


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