To the mamas awake in the middle of the night,
If you are one of the many moms with a little darling who doesn’t sleep through the night, I feel your pain.
I really do.
Having been blessed with two wonderful sleepers (aka my first and second babies), my third baby has been a shock to my system. He hasn’t slept through the night since he was born and he’s now 16 months. I do everything “right.” I put him down sleepy but awake so he can settle himself to sleep. I keep the room dark and quiet.
But one simple fact remains: When my son wakes up in the night, he wants me. And he’ll scream the house down if he doesn’t get me.
Last night my 1-year-old woke at 3:30 am. He was stirring a bit at first, then started to really let it rip, so I got him up out of his crib and brought him into bed with me. We cuddled for a while. Then suddenly, he wanted to get off the bed and I said no. Then he started to scream and throw himself around on the bed before eventually being sick everywhere.
It was now 4:30 am. I dutifully changed the sheets, changed my son, changed myself, and then we climbed back into bed, the smell of vomit still lingering.
I tried to put him back in his crib around 5 am but he woke right up. I brought him back into bed with me, but quickly realized this wasn’t what he wanted either.
He was thrashing around again, trying to figure out a way off of the bed.
Finally, close to 6 am he decided he wanted to go to sleep. After about 10 minutes of watching him sleep, I felt brave enough to try to put him back in his room. I gently lifted him up, placed him in his crib and quietly crept back into my bed.
This left me with just enough time to fall back into a deep sleep, which meant I felt exhausted when my alarm went off just after 7 am.
Sadly, last night wasn’t a one-off. This is a fairly frequent occurrence for me (although dealing with vomit is luckily quite rare!). Which means that when I say I understand what it’s like to have a baby who doesn’t sleep, I really mean it.
So here’s what I want you to know, mama.
If you are awake in the night because your baby needs you then you are not alone. Despite what you might read, it’s common for babies to wake up through the night. So if you’re sitting in bed feeling like you’re the only mother in the world awake, trust me, you’re far from it.
There are mamas like us all over the world. Sitting there in the dark. Cuddling babies or soothing them to sleep again. Some, like me, might be changing sheets or abandoning any hope of getting sleep that night at all. Others might be up and down like a yo-yo every few hours. The rest might just be up once and then will be able to go back to sleep.
There will, however, also be mamas who are sound asleep. Mamas who have older children who no longer wake in the night. And they would want you to know that it will be okay. It won’t be forever. One day, you’ll realize that your baby no longer needs or wants you in the night.
And while you’ll be so glad for your sleep you’ll probably also be a little sad that there are no more night time cuddles.
It’s hard to cope with a baby who doesn’t sleep well at night. Really hard sometimes. You may feel like you can’t deal with it anymore or you may be wishing that this phase would just stop already so you can get some rest.
Exhaustion often means that you struggle to get through the day. It can mean that you find it hard to drag yourself out of bed. Or if you’re anything like me, you might be irritable and snap at the people you love. Or maybe it means relying on caffeine, sugar and Netflix to get you and your kiddos through the day.
But here’s the amazing thing about mothers—no matter what has gone down during the night, we get up as usual. We go about our day just like everyone else. We care for and love our children, without giving them a hard time for disrupting our sleep. We don’t moan, we don’t complain. We just get on with it.
And when night comes, we go to bed knowing that there’s every chance we’ll be awake in the middle of the night again…
We get up without fail when our babies need us and we do what we need to do for them. Because we are the nighttime warriors. We are mamas.
This article was first published at Mother.ly