The baby whisperer – a nurse with decades of experience working with families – gave me a sympathetic look and announced, ‘I think you have a bad sleeper on your hands.’
She’d seen our younger daughter at three months, six months, and nine months. The problem was always the same: our daughter would settle to sleep easily but would wake all night long.
The baby whisperer’s assessment was a deep blow. We’d been confident that she would help us win this sleep war, and yet here she was waving the white flag. Was she simply out of tricks or, worse, was it a justified professional opinion?
The one-year mark came and went – then two years – but, alas, every night our daughter woke many times over. She was exhausted and cranky. We were all exhausted and cranky.
By then it was painfully clear why our daughter slept so poorly: she was facing a digestive issue, which caused her significant discomfort at night. A specialist finally stabilised her and her sleep began to improve week by week.
We also saw a paediatric sleep specialist. He explained many children with gastrointestinal difficulties experience disrupted sleep. With all the discomfort she had suffered, our daughter had been conditioned to wake. There was nothing he could do. The doctor told us to be patient as Miss 2.5 years learns to sleep soundly for the first time in her life.
The baby whisperer had been right after all.
Nights in our house are far from perfect. But, for the most part, it’s normal toddler stuff. Perhaps she or her older sister has a virus. Or has sprung a leak. Or needs a cover or pillow adjustment. Or assistance locating a favourite toy hidden among the covers. Or just wants a cuddle. These were the nocturnal realities of parenting we had been prepared for!
My heart goes out to any parents suffering from sleep deprivation, but especially those families contending with long-term sleep disorders. For those sleepy heads greatly missing some zzz right now, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions of ways to cope. (It goes without saying that I have employed many of these strategies myself!)
More articles from Ginny:
Welcoming Baby Number Two
RPA Newborn Care’s Baby Warriors
Making Friends at School … with Other Parents
When Two Becomes Three (or More)
Focus on Women’s Health: Childbirth Injuries
Birth Injuries: An Uncomfortable but Important Matter
Finding Peace: An Inner West Mum’s Story of Domestic Violence
Our Incredible Village
The Day Cale Met his Idol Guy Sebastian
How to Support a Friend through the Loss of a Baby
Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
The Milk Wars
A Big Shift: How Three Women Transformed their Careers during Motherhood
You Know You Have an Inner West Child When …
Cookie Cutter Kids: How can we teach our children to celebrate diversity?
Running in Circles
Allergies: What’s all the fuss about?
The Early Days
Not Water – Tears
No Judgements, Please
Triumph or Trauma
Riding the Merry go Round
Friends, Near or Far
When is Enough, Enough?
My (Child’s) Kitchen Rules