A Guest Blog Post from Beth Kitt
709,710,711… The monotonous counting of my 7 year old as we drove to the beach this morning. It was only the ‘what comes next’ shouts every 20 numbers or so that kept me from falling asleep, that and the standard “Are we there yet? This is taking longer than Africa.” chant from my 5 year old.
We were only half an hour in on a 2.5 hour journey and already I wanted to head home. It was one of those spur of the moment delirious ideas that can only be blamed on sleep deprivation. With it being summer holidays and having a 6 month old, a bad night and an early start in my crazy head was apparently the right recipe for a trip to the beach.
Sleep deprivation is not something that you get taught in your antenatal classes. Yes you will be told that your baby will wake a few times in the night but nothing can prepare you for the ‘milk in the cupboard, teabags in the fridge’ kind of tiredness. I don’t know about you but those first few weeks of life with a newborn for me were fairly blissful: sleepy night time feeds, an adrenaline bubble and having a new baby in the first few weeks is such a novelty that even my partner would get up. You know that honeymoon time is up when people start to ask you how hold she is and instead of your usual exact, “2 weeks, 4 days” to the hour reply, you say, “oh I think about 3 months.” So here’s how to muddle through those sleep deprived days…
Nap when they nap… And I say this with a warning. I thought at 2pm one day that I would close my eyelids for a second as baby was peacefully sleeping in the Moses basket and the kids didn’t need picking up for another hour. But oh no.. 3.20pm I shoot up look at the clock whisk baby into her car seat and speedily race to the school. I get to the school 15 minutes late apologising profusely to the teachers who’ve waited with them muttering how awful the traffic is with an imprint of my sofa cushions across my cheek. Yes my kids did have to wait for their mummy at pick up but mummy was less grumpy and played in the garden after school, which I put down to the 40 winks (and not the guilt of being late!)
A healthy diet… Whilst moaning once to a friend about wanting to lose a few pounds I said to her about how I struggle as I eat when I’m tired. To which she replied, “You eat, why don’t you just sleep?” As you can guess she was a friend who had not yet had children. I’m sure I’m not alone in sticking my head in a cupboard at 4pm and scoffing left over party bag sweets as at that time I feel sweets is the only thing that will keep me awake til bedtime. But come 6pm I feel even worse than 4pm as I’m having my sugar rush come down trying to put 3 children to bed. So try and get some easy readily available snacks like fruit, hummus and pitta or olives to keep those fingers out the biscuit tin.
Touche eclat… Hides any evidence of a late night, whether that’s from a middle of the night feeding marathon or just a Netflix ‘Making a Murderer’ marathon. Needle holes in the vial of blood…!?!? Just one more episode.
Breastfeeding lying down in bed (not on the sofa)…It is a lot safer than feeding your baby in a sitting up position and being so tired you could fall asleep leaving your baby to fall. If your feeling tired, breastfeeding horizontally means baby is already in a safe position whilst feeding so if you did fall asleep you know baby won’t fall to the floor.
My last tip is exercise… A gentle morning stroll will get your blood pumping which will help your body wake up. And if you have a friend who can go with you, it’s surprising how much of a cure a good gossip and a coffee in a to-go cup can do.
So with sand still in my hair and inbetween my toes I am off to sleep, hoping that the strong sea air will sail my children sleeping through till morning. Otherwise who knows what sleep deranged idea tomorrow morning will bring.
Beth is currently on maternity leave with baby no. 3, Nancy. Her older children are Ayva, 7 and Oscar 5. She is currently all too familiar with muddling through sleep deprivation herself. She otherwise works as a midwife at Gloucester Royal Hospital and teaches ‘The Bump to Baby Chapter’ antenatal classes with her cousin Kate who is also a midwife. Her coffee is a flat white, her favourite colour is baby blue and she loves anything salted caramel.