What it really feels like when your baby won’t sleep
This is the internal dialogue that one of our mothers wrote down about how she felt when her baby wasn’t sleeping. She’s chosen to remain anonymous but I think many parents will be able to identify with her story.
My internal dialogue when my baby won’t sleep
[Looking at him in the darkness] Sleep. Why can’t you get this? This is really simple. People do this, like all the time. I myself for example, would like to be doing it RIGHT NOW. I am very good at it so what you are doing is clearly not genetic. Why, only six months ago, even with my huge stomach getting in the way, I was still able to knock out a six or seven hour sleep albeit, broken by several trips to the toilet but whatever, I still slept like a champion.
Shhh! Shhh! Come on, darling. That’s it. Time for sleep. Time for sleeeeeep.
[whisper yelling] JUST GO TO SLEEP. I MEAN IT. I HAVE DONE EVERYTHING RIGHT. WHY CAN’T YOU GET THIS? WHY?
I am so so tired. Why am I so bad at this? This is something simple that mothers can do. Mothering. Getting babies to sleep is an integral part of mothering. Other mothers know how to do this – why don’t I?
That Kate at Mothers Group said her baby slept through from five months. What is her secret?
I’m a bit shit at this, really. There aren’t that many KPIs for mothering. Ok, keeping the baby alive. So far I am nailing that. Second KPI is surely, getting baby to sleep. Not nailing that at all.
My baby won’t sleep. My baby won’t sleep. Why won’t my baby sleep? Why won’t you just sleep?
[whisper singing] TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR HOW I WONDER WHAT YOU ARE
What is that sound you just made anyway? Is that a sort of choking in addition to the crying? Why are you crying? [googles reasons for crying on mobile phone looking over shoulder of baby] None of these reasons apply. Why are you doing this to me? Your Dad needs to be up at 6am. He’ll barely be able to function. I mean, yes, I can’t function but I don’t have to leave the house. He does. God, I feel guilty about that too. Oh, he can take care of himself. At least he’s not here in this room with the constant screaming. Matter of fact, pretty sure he should be bringing me breakfast in bed after this effort.
My wrists ache. Actually, I think it’s my thumb. Should I go to the physio about that? Is this a thing now, baby holding injuries? Am I going crazy? Maybe if I pick him up with robot hands my thumbs will hurt less. Oh god.
Why can’t he just sleep? WHY CAN’T YOU SLEEP? Is there something really wrong with him? Should I take him to the doctor tomorrow? Will I even be safe to drive tomorrow in this state?
He didn’t sleep today either. Maybe a couple of hours. I seriously spent most of the day getting him to sleep. I didn’t spend any time playing with him. What are the developmental milestones I’m supposed to be encouraging? Shit. I literally have not lifted a toy all day.
I am exhausted.
I think I am actually failing at parenting.
[whisper crying / yelling] Baby, please. Please. Just for a little while.
Pretty sure you don’t need a feed. If I feed you now, you’ll always want a feed at this hour. Pretty sure you can sleep through another hour. Pretty confident about that.
[putting him in his cot, lying down on the floor for a minute, singing Twinkle Twinkle. Again.]
I wonder what would happen if I just walked out of the room and into the street. No, of course I’m not doing that – I’m not that – but geeze it would be a lot quieter out there.
I think maybe I love you a bit more when you’re asleep. Shit. I don’t think I should even admit that to myself. Definitely not telling the maternal child health nurse that. It’s not that I love you less right now; it’s more that I love you more at other times. Does this mean I don’t love my baby? Am I a bad mum for not loving my baby enough? Shit.
[getting him out of the cot and feeding him on the comfy chair]
I totally love you baby. You should totally go to sleep after this feed.
I am so so tired. I’ve been at this for six months now. You’d think I’d know what I’m doing. Am I damaging him by not getting this right?
[putting him back in the cot]
I love you, baby.
We had a few people express concern about this mother which is lovely – but please don’t worry; she is totally ok and her baby is now sleeping well. We only wanted to share this because we know that people can sometimes feel so isolated when their baby is not sleeping. Please know that you are not alone! It’s ok to ask for help, talk to a friend or access some of the advice here on our website.
All the best
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Image Credit: Bunny Doctor by Kenneth Lu.