The truth about parenting sleep deprivation

sleep-deprivation-lifebylotte You will start writing this post eighteen times before finishing it.

A 'good' night will be one when you sleep for more than three hours in a row. You will feel like superwoman after this night. Ideas will flow, ambitions will be unsurpassed. YOU WILL BE ABLE TO DO ANYTHING THAT DAY.

If your baby does decide to sleep for more than three hours in a row, you'll be terrified they've died. So you won't be able to sleep anyway because you'll keep leaning over their cot to hear them breathe, and probably waking them up in the process.

People will ask you how your weekend was, and you will have absolutely no idea. Even though it's only Monday.

Mothers whose babies sleep through the night will offer you unsolicited pearls of wisdom and you will understand what it is like to feel murderous rage. Topped off with a side of shame and failure.

'Have you tried a bedtime routine?' *headdesk*

It will become a twisted badge of honour to proclaim to anyone who will listen: 'Well, I didn't even sleep well when I was pregnant. So technically I haven't slept through the night since LAST JULY! Ha ha ha!'

Your dreams, when you have them and actually remember them, will have you considering a course of therapy... 'I did what with WHO?'

If you succumb to co-sleeping in desperation, you may wake your partner one night in a panic and scream 'where's the baby? WHERE'S THE BABY?' while pawing at the bed in the dark, not realising that she's actually - shock horror - happily asleep in her OWN COT.

Co-sleeping will turn you into the Hunchback of Notre Dame. So long as the baby's comfy right?

One night in the depth of the antisocial hours, you will pick up your partner's arm, instead of the baby, and try to put it back in its cot*. You will yank it and yank it and wonder why it isn't moving. Your partner will be so tired he will barely notice.

Many an evening will come when, while trying to get the baby to sleep using tried-and-failed methods such as shushing and stroking, you will fall asleep yourself.

You will shush until you faint.

No sheep will ever let you down like Ewan the Dream Sheep. Promised so much, delivered so little.

You will look back on the nights pre-baby when you had a mild bout of insomnia, or a bit of jet lag, and remember how you felt you WERE SO TIRED YOU COULDN'T FUNCTION. And you will laugh hollow laughter as you inject coffee into your eyeballs and try to do life admin while looking after a screaming baby, having slept for about thirty five minutes the previous night.

There will come at time when, at 4am and when your infant is singing away to herself with no intention of sleeping, you will burst into tears. And you'll just go for it. Really let loose - proper sobs. Accompanied by cries of: 'It's not fair! IT'S NOT FAIR! WHY DOESN'T SHE WANT TO SLEEP!!'. And your baby will be so shocked at the noise, she'll shut up and fall asleep.

Hunt-the-dummy in the pitch dark will become your newest and most hated game.

There will be approximately sixteen dummies in your bedroom - in the cot, in your bed, under your bed, in your hair... yet you will never be able to find one before the crying escalates to screaming.

You will consider using earplugs to drown out your baby's night-time singsongs but then be terrified of accidentally dropping one in their cot and having them swallow it. You will ball your fists as you realise even these small solutions are denied to you.

Your baby will often decide that the day should start at 5.30am. Nothing you do will persuade her to go back to sleep. So you will begrudgingly get up, pour yourself an enormous mug of tea, rub your eyes and entertain her, only to have her YAWN at you. For real.

Every now and then your baby will shock you by not waking up at her usual time in the middle of the night. But of course you still will. Ha ha.

*I actually did this. Sorry Oli.

Find out the truth about life with a newborn >

Four month baby update

four-month-baby-update-lifebylotte Little Chippy is officially four months old! I can't believe it - where has the time gone?! She is getting more and more adorable by the day - it seems like every morning when she wakes up at the moment she has learnt a new skill. It's amazing - people should definitely talk more about how watching your baby change day by day can blow your mind. I keep remembering that I must film her more too, instead of taking endless pictures, because even when I look back at the short clips from when we first took her home, it's incredible how much she's developed!

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Anyway, it's a good job she's so bloody adorable because we are currently in the middle of sleep deprivation hell. It all started just after she'd had her 16 week jabs last week. From about 14 weeks, her colic FINALLY stopped and - praise be - we'd actually started to get her into quite a good routine, which included four naps a day and a sensible bedtime, meaning we had our evenings back. I was starting to feel all smug and relieved that we'd come through the worst of it all and that now we were going to have a smiley happy baby that slept well and gave us little bother. HAHAHAHA.

There's a thing they don't tell you about when you're pregnant - and it's a good job they don't, or you'd never have a baby. It's called the 'four month sleep regression' and is all to do with babies' sleep patterns changing to become more like adults'. Which means they no longer fall straight into a deep sleep, but instead have to go through a lighter phase before falling into a deep sleep. And this lighter phase is super easy for them to wake up from. Also, because of this, it's harder for them to 'link' sleep cycles together and so instead they wake up after each sleep cycle is complete.

Daph's sleep cycles last 40 minutes - you could set your watch by her. And for the last week, pretty much every 40 minutes after she's fallen asleep, she's woken up. Even at 2, 3, 4 and 5 in the morning. IT IS TORTURE.

The only thing that we've found to help us through this phase is having her in the bed with me again. Which is kind of lovely and cuddly and cute but does mean I get terrible backache as I have to kind of cradle her all night, and try not to squash her.

Thankfully (touch wood), she's still managing a long sleep between 9pm - midnight ish, but of course it's difficult for me to force myself to go to bed at 9pm because I'm just longing for some grown-up time where I can watch TV or just waste time on the internet looking at expensive dresses that would no longer suit me...

Anyway. I'm hoping and praying this is just a phase and that she'll grow out of it soon - the alternative doesn't really bear thinking about at the moment!

Other than this, we've noticed that, as she's so much more alert now, she's started to become really fussy when eating - she constantly pulls away from the bottle or pushes it off with her fists, then screams to have it back. All the while her little head is swivelling round trying to take in EVERYTHING that's going on -  it's so cute but frustrating too!

She's really really sweet now though and smiles at me every morning when she first wakes up, and has started laughing a lot more - mostly in the evenings when she seems to be in a better mood. Her laugh sounds a bit weird, like an old codger on 40 a day, but it's the most amazing thing ever and keeps making me cry (I'm blaming the lack of sleep for my sappiness levels). She also recognises people now - especially my Mum and sister, and beams at them too. Bless.

She can hold things really well, and will happily bash at everything on her annoying play mat - finally she's actually interested in toys. She can also sit up pretty much unaided. She just can't get herself into that position yet but I don't think it will be too long. She's not great at rolling from front to back yet but she does try - although lately when we do tummy time she seems to be trying to crawl and sort of slides her hands and legs back and forward and gets very very frustrated with herself!

Her newest favourite thing is blowing raspberries - she can do it for hours, and ends up with drool all over her chin. She also still LOVES music, and I sing to her every day, and she's starting to recognise songs she's heard before. Her current favourite track is Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins. 'Eeeaaaarlyyyy each day, to the steps of St Paul's' goes round and round my tired brain. To mix it up a bit this week I've been trying to get her into Christmas tunes and she's rather partial to Wham's Last Christmas now too.

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Her eye colour is settling down - and *I think* her eyes are blue! A kind of dark grey-blue, similar to mine, but blue nonetheless. As for her hair, it's still a bit of a mystery - it's almost black at the back but the front is kind of sandy/gingery so who knows what colour it will end up. She had quite a lot of hair at the back of her head when she was born but bits of it have kind of worn off (I think from where she lies in the cot) and so now she has a kind of funny bald ring around the back of her head. She's also got quite yucky cradle cap, but we're leaving it as I don't think that it bothers her.

Finally, I feel I should point out JUST HOW FAT she has got. Look at those thighs!! She's a proper little chubba. Slightly alarming but my mum assures me once she starts crawling she'll slim down a bit!

As for me, I feel pretty much back to normal now. The diet has gone out of the window thanks to Christmas food and shenanigans and will be renewed again in the new year - but I did manage to lose eight pounds which I was quite chuffed with! I still have another 11 to go :/ but I don't think I look too dissimilar to how I used to now. At least, not with clothes on. My stomach has shrunk back quite nicely and really looks the same as before. But all those maternal fat stores ended up on my inner thighs as they are certainly... hefty. A bit like Chip's in fact. Now the challenge is not to PUT ON any weight at Christmas! We shall see...

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