The things you don't expect when your expecting blog: 3am

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So it struck me as I looked at the time that the email from Rachel pinged into my inbox, discussing possible topics for our blog-the things you don’t expect when you are expecting. The time was 3am. Who sends an email at 3am? WOW I thought she is super dedicated to our cause. Oh wait a minute; it’s not that she’s got a newborn.

3am is the middle of the night. No one in their right mind sends an email at 3am, unless of course you are writing an assignment and it’s overdue. Other possible explanations included getting up to catch a plane- flying to some lovely holiday destinations or that you’re a midwife on the night shift and 3am is actually your day because you’re on night 2 of 4.

In reality 3am is the time when a lot of new mums are awake. It’s also a time when new mums believe that everyone else in the world is asleep. I mean everyone. As you are sat with a newborn who does not remotely look like they will ever sleep again 3am is torture. Or if you are Rachel you put your time to good use and share the pain with fellow parents.

I remember personally how the nights were always the worst, I would always start the night thinking maybe tonight will be different, maybe tonight my lovely beautiful baby will sleep through like all the other angel babies at the baby group do. Yet somehow he never did. I found it so hard. I can honestly say I thought the sleep deprivation would never end. As a midwife you are supposed to be expert, experienced wise! Ha that was never me. I remember trying all the tricks, reading all the books and still I would see my lovely boy at least 20 times each night.

My baby boy turned 16 last week and just to be clear, we survived, we got through it. (He slept through when he was 3. QUICK Get the calculator out to work out how much longer it goes on for. I bet you can do that sum at 3am.) BTW He is number 1 of 4 so in reality the sheer exhaustion, lack of sleep and everything that goes with it cannot have lasted as long as it did in my head. Otherwise baby 2, 3 and 4 would not have happened. Oh and just so you know, it actually does get easier. Well a bit, now I think I’m going to enter the cant sleep until he come home phase of parenting very soon. Can’t wait for that!

Another thing to note is the sheer irony of it all. The first few years of his life I spent trying to get him to sleep. My new reality is that I cannot get the boy out of his bed. The good thing is now though is I get to wake him up. My how the tables have turned!

So before I leave you with some inspirational message that’s gonna keep you going for roughly 7 minutes, I need to make sure that you don’t forget to remind you of safer sleep rules- that you must try to get a break and a sleep when your significant other- friend- mum step dad grandma sister- quite frankly anyone ( just kidding) takes over. Talk to someone if it gets hard and when you are struggling, it’s okay to feel like it’s hard. Lastly remember that most people will almost certainly have been through it too and do not believe anything that is said in the baby groups.

So the message from me is this. If you are like Rachel- up every night A LOT just remember you are not alone, you are absolutely amazing and when you feel so tired, or disheartened just remember that actually you are doing a good job and you are the centre of the universe of a small person who you made from scratch. You are kinda wonderful, keep up the good work and if you’re stuck for something to do write me a blog like Rachel does.


And now for Rachel:

8.30pm - it's Friday night and I'm going to bed - oh how times have changed! I will definitely see the wee small hours of the morning but it will be in our bedroom in silence save for the gentle squeaks and glugs if a 1 month old having mama milk.

10.22pm - WOW, nearly 2 whole hours of sleep, that's amazing. I'm sat in my feeding nest as I like to call it, comfy chair with arm rests, with a blanket and dressing gown on it; water, muslin, flapjack, tissues and feeding pillow all within easy reach. I am awesome, I can totally do this.

11.29pm - still sat in the chair. I must be a stone lighter by now with all that feeding - that reminds me, must weigh myself tomorrow - my arms are getting a good workout with all the burping and bouncing - every cloud has a sliver lining - remember to drink the water.

11.49pm - sometimes it's hard to understand what your baby is trying to tell you, that's not the case right now - how dare you put me down in that monstrosity you call a Moses basket?? I don't care if it's a family heirloom that took you ages to clean and you spent a fortune on a custom mattress for because it's an odd shape, I am not sleeping in there and the fact that you even asked me to means you must be punished - you shall sit in this chair whilst I sleep on you for the next 90 minutes and if you even think of moving I shall just require more milk.

1.30am - OK, so our bedroom is not silent!! Yes there's the cute feeding noises from baby but they are drowned out (well psychologically at least) by my husband sleeping. He's not even snoring but his slow, deep, steady, relaxed breathing makes me want to reach for a pillow to smother him with. The rage inside me at his audacity to be asleep at this point in time fuels my murderous plots. I consider throwing the water bottle at him but I don't really want to hurt him and besides, I need the water - god breastfeeding makes you thirsty! I fume silently, stewing my anger like grandma's casserole.

2.34am - my arse is numb, I fell asleep in the feeding chair, shit that's an hours quality sleep I missed out on and instead I've got a stiff neck. Tried to put baby down which received a level of protest to spark deployment of military back up so now we're back to square one, and husband sleeps on....

2.51am - to wind or not to wind, that is the question, whether it is nobler in the long run to suffer the sore stomach and farts of not winding or to take arms against the risk of waking... I plump for not winding, screw it, bed is calling.

3.24am - 1,2,3 shakey shakey shakey shakey shakey. That is one cross baby!! Legs kicking, not wanting boob, but screaming the place down. It's heart breaking. Baby massage seems to help. 1,2,3 shakey shakey shakey shakey shakey, should have bloody winded!!

4am - pick up phone for a nosey to keep myself occupied and try to stop me falling asleep again. Not looking at the news, too negative and I'm emotional and neurotic enough right now, and definitely not looking at self help social media - too much misinformation. I check Facebook which reminds me that 1 year ago I was sunning myself and quaffing ridiculous (i.e. amazing) cocktails with pals in Spain. Not much doing there, I go to the Internet and Google colic - I want to Google reflux but it's dark o'clock and I've not a clue what I'm doing. I read a really interesting couple of articles about breastfeeding then spend ages looking at the references trying to work out if the person who wrote the article is trust worthy or not. I look at a forum I've read for years that's not baby related - it's strangely foreign yet familiar and reminds me of who I am beyond a mother.

6am husband is a god and all is forgiven when oldest child tries to get into bed with us (a prospect that will result in no sleep for anyone) and he gets up and takes him away; I don't know where to, at this point I don't care, but finally true silence prevails and sleep beckons.