A tired mum’s monologue
I wrote the ramblings below into the notes of my iPhone when I was in the midst of the worst sleep deprivation I’ve ever experienced. While sleep is still relatively crap (cut me a break, Hannah – you’re two now), I’m over the worst of things. I hope.
But I discovered this monologue, in it’s raw, honest entirety, and I just had to publish. So if you’re a tired momma, I hear you. This one is for you.x
A tired mum’s monologue
As I sit nursing my 16-month-old daughter back to sleep after her nap ended abruptly at 25 minutes, I can’t help but feel like a failure. I feel like I’m failing as a mother, and being a pretty rubbish wife, friend and family member in the process.
Why? Because in this wonderful yet slightly fucked up world of new parenting, I’m indoctrinated with what my baby should be doing. And consequently, what I should (and shouldn’t) be doing, too.
At nearly a year-and-a-half, she should be sleeping through. Or at the very least, she shouldn’t be getting up every 45 minutes, which she sometimes does. Quite often, actually.
I certainly shouldn’t be nursing to sleep. In fact, every time I try to stop feeding to sleep, and then get tired after 10 minutes of rocking, then give in and give boob, I feel like a failure.
She should be more established on solids. Milk is now a drink, says the health visitor. But milk isn’t just a drink for my bubs, who didn’t have a dummy and resists the bottle. It’s a sleep-inducer. It’s a dummy. It’s a calming aid. And with a cow’s milk allergy denying lots of options, and a fussy eater to boot, my milk plugs a nutritional gap.
But it’s hard. Nursing means all the naps and night shifts are on me.
“Don’t give them a dummy,” warned the health visitor and lactation consultant. It will confuse them. It will inhibit their proper jawed development. Heck, it will turn them into mass murderers, they might as well have said.
Sound advice, but with a baby who now cannot put herself to sleep and relies so heavily on being fed, it’s hard.
She should be able to put herself to sleep, I keep thinking. It seems that so many mums can put their babies down, drowsy, but awake. A quick kiss goodnight and they’re off to the land of nod. To those mums, I applaud you. You’re clearly doing something brilliant. And I clearly am not.
Even those that nurse to sleep find their babies, with tummies full of lovely solid food, sleeping for longer periods of time. But my baby still gets up multiple times. And whether it’s for comfort, for food, or she’s just s bit scared, she needs me. And I can’t ignore her. I just can’t. So I give her what she needs.
- “But you’re creating bad habits.”
- “The more you breastfeed the more she’ll get up looking for it.”
- “You’re making a rod for your own back.”
- “You need to leave her to cry.”
The latter is like a piercing through my heart. Yes, I know so many mums who are rested and look wonderful after doing a spot of controlled crying. I don’t judge you for it. In fact I don’t blame you. Having 16 months of shit sleep makes me understand why people do the whole cry it out thing. I just can’t physically do it myself.
So I’m left with the nursing, cuddling and rocking. I’m left with the frequent wakings. The short, crap naps. The inability to even fall asleep in a moving car without assistance. So strong is our bond that my girl needs me when most kids can’t help but nod off.
I know I should get militant. I know I should work on a solid, consistent routine and stick to it.
“Babies thrive on consistency”, said the “no cry it out” sleep trainer. Yes, I hired one of those. What a joke that turned out to be.
And yes, perhaps I should consistently get up and resettle her into her cot, even during the hourly wakings. Perhaps I shouldn’t bring her back into my bed.
But I’m tired. I’m oh so tired. And I’m surviving. Yes, over a year in and I’m still in survival mode. I didn’t think I’d be here but I am. I can’t see beyond naps and bedtime. Feed, sleep, repeat.
But I haven’t mentioned the good stuff. I have the brightest kid. She’s bubbly, smiley, kind, and so energetic.
So why have I talked about sleep so much?
Because it’s hard. Sleep is so basic and vital that you can seriously lose your shit without it.
And because as a human, I’m fundamentally flawed with the glass half empty perspective. In the midst of some hardcore sleep deprivation, I can’t think beyond the fog.
But it has to change. I will make time for life beyond sleep. I will reclaim some of the old me. So I’m documenting this rambling now, so I can see how far I’ve come. And also to tell other mums, it’s ok to feel like a failure. It’s ok to think you’ve got everything wrong. Not every mum has it going on like Instagram would tell you. And that’s ok.
Acknowledge that it’s hard. But for now just sleep.
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About the Author
I’m a British-Bengali Muslim mum-of-two. My pictures aren’t filtered and neither are my words. I’m not a makeup artist, chef or lifestyle guru. I’m just me, sharing honest beauty reviews for brown skin, halal restaurant finds, travel inspo, mum life hacks, easy Bengali recipes and more. If that’s your bag, keep reading!