Do or have you ever had a child who will not go to sleep at night? Or a child that will wake during the night for hours on end? Our first baby was a dream – or at least I realise now that she was a dream. I guess I knew at the time she was good compared to the stories at Parent’s Group and I knew from my experience as a midwife that we were doing well. I admit that I was proud that we had “a good sleeper” – she was never “an excellent sleeper”, we never got those magic “my baby has slept through since 6 weeks” type of thing and we couldn’t even say that at 6 months – but getting up once in 8-12 hours to breastfeed was a privilege not a burden for I realise now how much I relished our secret time even when it was the Mumma and the Pappa and the Baby all in bed together with a Babe at the breast and one in the belly.

I remember just after we conceived (and before we knew) our precious little boy I went to see Hugh Jackman in “Boy from Oz” and I was so sick on the tram…. it was a give away. Sophie had been fussy at the breast and then that and the next week I was running to the bathroom from 6am til at least 3pm…. quite obvious really!

Sam arrived and the labour was great and I knew we were great parents. Here we were with our “pidgeon pair”, as everyone over 40 seemed to tell us, a 13 month old who was barely waking overnight and a delicious newborn who was breastfeeding every 1-3 hours 24/7. Sam moved onto longer breaks between feeds and seemed to settle pretty easily. He really is a lovely boy with a very sunny disposition. He laughs all the time, he seems interested in everything and very active. During the day now, at 9 months of age, he sleeps in the morning at around 930am for between 45mins and an hour and a half – no complaints here. In the afternoons he will usually sleep from about 2pm for between 45mins and 2 hours….it’s great, especially if it coincides with Sophie’s sleeps – 2 under 2 is tiring regardless of what others may say and, of course, I am an amazon woman who can’t stand to achieve!

BUT, come 8pm and it starts, we do the dinner-bath-story routine, Sophie gets her dummy and settles easily. On the other hand Sam roars and roars and roars. Now that he can stand he pulls himself up and the cot side and screams. We have tried feeding him to sleep, rocking, sushing, holding, patting, rubbing, singing, music, stories, leaving the room, staying in the room, panadol, teething gel, homeopathic medicine, love, tears, walking, someone else trying to settle him, formula, water, extra warm baths, staying up later, going to bed earlier – I swear we have tried everything… except Phenergan…..

Yesterday I went to our local Pharmacy and asked for some Phenergan, a friend has used it and got at least one good nights sleep in many broken ones and since it is coming to the point where we are all breaking I thought I would at least buy it so we had a back up plan…. broken sleep is like a form of torture and between the two cherubs we have been getting up between 1-5 times a night. I am sure the move has had something to do with it and teeth play a part but still…..I am exhorsted, Pete’s exhoursted, we are exhorsted! Anyway, I went to get the drug and I must say it’s a big blow to my ego….I am superwoman, what is going on?

Anyway, we have decided to wait until Sunday to use it….we are trying again because I am sure it is teething related and Sam has just cut his second top tooth last night (he was awake from 130-430 and then they both woke at 6). The pharmacist put me through the wringer about how I have been trying to settle him and she made me feel like crap and when I stood up and said “if you think I could be doing something different why don’t you come over tonight and settle him” she backed down and handed over the drug saying “please don’t use it more than 3 nights in a row”. 3 nights in a row – hey sister, we just want ONE night of sleeping through – 6 hours in a row will suit fine, which 6 I don’t care as long as I am asleep too! The funny thing is, she didn’t tell me what dose to give him….

Tonight I have used modified controlled crying to get him to sleep after sitting rubbing his back for 10 minutes and it only took about 6 minutes til he was quiet and relaxed. So, initially I sat with him then I left the room. I put a timer on because 2 minutes feels like sooooo long when your little love is wailing. After 2 minutes I went in and sat with him til he calmed down then I left the room again. I set the timer on for 5 minutes, put the stereo on with some of my current favourite music, turned it up and waited….after 4 minutes he was silent. It’s horrible, I hate hearing my babies cry but I do think that babies need to learn to settle themselves and I have a vague recollection of doing this with Sophie just before she started “sleeping through” which in her case was actually from about 7pm til 6-7am.

Anyway, he is asleep for the first part of the night and time will tell what will happen in a few hours. Tonight I am going to do the same thing if he wakes 2 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 8 minutes, then 12 minutes, then 15 minutes and then I’ll get him up – I can’t do more than 15 minutes (I think more than 5 minutes is cruel but it does seem to work in most cases).

I haven’t written this for sympathy, I have written it because no one seems to talk about it and I truly believe that sleep is a very important thing in maintaining one mental and physical health not to mention family and relationship strength and structure. Oh and I have had a glass of champagne, a glass of Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Floral, a small glass of reisling and a beer a couple of drinks… :).

In all seriousness, sleep deprivation can lead to so many illnesses particularily mental ones – no wonder women get Postnatal Depression! Please don’t write and tell me your child slept through from 6 weeks… don’t rub salt in the wounds – if yours did I truly believe that you were/are lucky and I wish you good luck always but if you have also had problems let us know what you did, why and how it worked… I will keep you posted on how the Phenergan goes if we end up finding the right dose and trying it….in the mean time happy sleeping and I hope you all have lovely long sleeps with lovely dreams about vegetable gardens, wool preparation, spinning and knitting!

In the mean time we’ll be playing “The Crying Game”!