Friday, 8 April 2011

Sleep Debt Snatches*

There are occasions when I really think I can't do this. Those occasions are almost always in the middle of the night.

Maggie has been awake since 11.30pm. It's now almost 4am and she's still up there, still not sleeping. She's been fed, she's been changed, she's been cuddled and rocked and patted and soothed and she's still not sleeping. I wish this was atypical. But it isn't.

Over at Mama Lewis, Stacie and her husband are trying what they call The Sleep Experiment. As far as I can tell, this is essentially treating her daughter, May, as if she were just a normal little girl. That is: "Go to sleep! You don't need to be cuddled and cajoled all night!"

We need to do something similar, I think. The problem we've had with Maggie, ever since birth, is her vomiting. We've always had to be mindful of not just putting her down to sleep. Because she throws up. So there's been a lot of cuddling and patting. Plus, of course, the sheer fact of just wanting her to go to sleep after the end of a tiring day. Why would we want to sit there in the evening listening to her cry herself to sleep for hours on end?

As it is, she does that anyway - even with our constant interventions. Every evening it's the same. She's fed from 6pm for an hour and then taken upstairs at around 7.30pm when we can be reasonably confident that her stomach has settled enough for her not to throw up. Then we spend the next hour or two trying to get her to sleep. If we're lucky, we can sit down to eat at around 8.30pm. Most of the time it's after 9pm. Then we have our dinner, watch a bit of telly (because we're too tired and fucked off to do anything else) and hope that this time she won't wake around midnight. But she always does. And then it's into those dark, depressing hours where we're cuddling and patting and feeding and soothing her. Those dark, depressing hours where I occasionally think I can't do this anymore.

Tonight, at around 3am, I woke Shannon with a start because I fell onto the bed while holding Maggie. I fell because I fell asleep on my feet. Of course, Maggie was startled and off she went with all the howling and screaming. Massive fucking sigh. I say sigh but it was more anger and sadness and exasperation.

I don't want to carry on like this anymore. Night after night after night.

* Sleep Debt Snatches is the title of a great B-side by The Fall (who never fail to cheer me up).


  1. Poignant as ever. When my children were younger, I can remember 1 or 2 nights of being kept up most of the night. I therefore cannot imagine what it is like when every night is like that. All I can say is hang on in there, mate, people care and one day it has to change for the better. Hopefully. Meanwhile, tell yourself every day what a great job you are both doing at parenting against such stacked odds.


  2. Well said Andy, it's what we're thinking and feeling down here. We're both so sad and pissed off that you (Paul) and Shannon are having such endless difficulties, and we both wish you all the good will and kind wishes we have. You can find the strength and resilience to get through this. You can do it. Matthew and Maria x

  3. Any chance of some respite care?Just a couple of nights a month might make all the difference.Sleep deprivation is so awful.I really feel for you.

  4. We had horror like this till about 18mths.Sometimes there was no sleep at all in 24hrs where we would take turns pacing and pleading with him to stop screaming.More than once if on my own I had to put him down and stand outside the house at an ungodly hour of the morn to calm myself.But then he just clicked,slept all night,had naps during the day and he has never gone back to that time.I wonder was it a new stage of brain development who knows.I'm sorry for the hell ye are in.Be superhuman!

  5. Hello my lovelies! Can I just say GORGEOUS pics, of all of you, on the previous posts, absolutely gorgeous!

    I'm just going to read the Mama Lewis bit about their sleep experiment, but if there's anyway you guys can give it a go (easier said than done I know that, especially with the vomiting) then I would think it would be the right thing to do, the only reason I say any of this is that I know everyone worries that it might be a "bad" thing to do, leaving babies to cry and I'm sure you guys feel that even more than the rest of us, well I think that if you all get more sleep that could never be a bad thing. I am totally sure its just not that easy tho :(

    Anyways, as always, I'm here and I'm listening, and thinking of you guys

    love the muppet xxxx

  6. Bloody hell. Crap as it is to say this, I'm thinking of you all. Wish I could do something.

    Love to you all.

    Sally x

  7. Just found your blog today. Lying awake next to my son hoping he won't have a seizure (behavior vomitting today) usually precedes. Anyway love mama Lewis because I wnt to be positive but so appreciate your honesty about the worry and heartbreak. I won't begin to compare our circumstances because they are very different but also similar,The heartbreak and worry. My son is undiagnosed but his development is severely delayed and it seems to be related to health issues. My one and only so i dont know any different. Anyway sorry to go on so much just want you to know a little about us if I comment from time to time you won't wonder who i am. It is refreshing to hear from a father for a change. I so hope the best possible outcome and in the immediate futur some sleep for you and your family.