Childrearing

The Panic That Your Child Will Never Sleep Again Is The Worst

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sleepy baby

I’ve mentioned before that our son gave us a very hard time with sleep. It made our lives so difficult, as one would expect- keeping in mind that it wasn’t just months, it was years. Not sleeping trickles down to every aspect of life- I was feeling rundown all the time, forgetting things, snapping at my older child over minor offenses- it was not pleasant. The worst part of all was wondering when it would end. Or if. The lingering thought in my mind every night was “will he ever go back to sleep?” There were many times in my haze were I honestly thought he would not. The panic that your child will never sleep again is the worst feeling and can really mess with the mind of a parent.

I can remember those nights so vividly now, even though it was years ago. Getting up several times, patting his bottom rhythmically, shushing, swaying, nursing, BEGGING- it was awful. At some point in those twilight hours, the panicky thoughts would start to creep in. It usually went something like this:

“What if he is up for the day?”

“What if I’M up for the day?”

“It’s what, 3:00 am? I only got an hour of sleep.”

“How will I take care of the toddler feeling like this?”

“Oh God, oh God, oh God, please no.”

When that panic set in, my heart would race. My mind would spin and tears would spring to my eyes. Knowing how the next day would go on barely one hour of broken sleep was enough to send me down the black hole of worry. Knowing that he was a baby and if he wouldn’t sleep, I had no choice- I would have to get up too. That terrible thought that my baby was done sleeping until the next night of shitty, broken sleep is a memory of parenting I don’t enjoy thinking about.

Even now, years after the worst of it was over, I still get a bit twitchy when I hear a baby cry in public. For just a second, I’m taken back to those years when sleep was not at all a guarantee and exhaustion was my constant state. This panic has made me incredibly protective of my sleep, even years later. My husband gets up with our kids now if they need anything. We say it’s because he falls back to sleep much faster than I do but he has mentioned before that even years later, he still feels like he needs to even the score since my nursing our son meant I was the one losing all the sleep back then. I am endlessly grateful.

I have said before how I would not change my tough little guy for anything and it’s true but his sleep issues have forever changed me and not for the better. Maybe as even more time goes by I will let these feelings go but for now, the thought of being held hostage by a fussy baby at 2:00 am makes me break out in a cold sweat and I don’t see it going away any time soon.

(Image: /Shutterstock)

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