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Feel like I’ve failed as a mum

(182 Posts)
HidingUnderTheSofa Sun 22-Jul-18 14:13:01

First time mum to a four month old baby, exclusively breastfed. Night time sleep was gradually getting better week by week until 11 weeks when he did a five hour stretch at the beginning of the night.

It was like a switch was flicked- he went from two wake ups/feeds on a good night to anything from four to eight. Longest stretch of the night is generally two to three hours and wake ups are anything from one to two hours for the rest of the night. Night feeds are generally ten to twenty minutes long.

Naps are also a disaster. He wakes up between 25 and 45 minutes after falling asleep. Will generally fall asleep without too much fuss in the pram but naps in the crib involve much more settling.

After six weeks of very broken sleep (and four months in total of poor sleep) I am exhausted and I feel like an utter failure as a parent. I am crying a lot out of both exhaustion and feelings of worthlessness because I feel I am failing so badly. I am surrounded by mum friends whose babies are sleeping much better than my son. I

I am feeling especially awful because my in laws are staying at the moment and of course all of their other grandchildren are/were champion sleepers as babies.

I have read so many sleep books and have tried to extend daytime naps with the hope of improving night time sleep- I can’t get him to settle back to sleep after the 45 minute wake up however hard I try but he’s clearly still tired when he wakes up.

I’ve had a bedtime routine since he was six weeks old and put him down to sleep when he’s sleepy but still awake...but it makes no difference. Last night he still woke up after two hours and four or five times after that.

I’m finding it increasingly hard to settle him down to sleep for naps or at night which is really upsetting too.

I am so, so sad. I feel like I’m failing my son.

starryeyed19 Sun 22-Jul-18 14:14:29

It feels like a step backwards but a lot of babies do this at about 16 weeks. You're not failing your baby. You are doing your very best. Try not to worry about what the other grand babies are doing. And try and rope someone in so you can get a nap or two in.

This too shall pass.

arbrighton Sun 22-Jul-18 14:16:28

4 month sleep regression

It's not you

Don't read/ google.

Do what works

Rest when you can

And unless the ILs are helping, they can do one

KatnissK Sun 22-Jul-18 14:21:08

You are not a failure! All babies are different. Some are good sleepers, some aren't. My DS is not. At 4 months he was worse than what you've described. He is 13months old now and so much better - he can settle himself, he sleeps long stretches, he has 2 hour naps. You know what I did? I threw away the baby books, stopped clock watching and took all advice with a huge pinch of salt. Do what works for your baby. Rocking, feeding to sleep, naps in the buggy (I used to walk DS 2 hours, twice a day in an attempt to get him to sleep for longer than 20 minutes!), whatever works. Make sure you are getting naps and lie-ins where possible (get partner/family to take over for a bit on days off and weekends). Co-sleep if it helps.
Don't worry about other people and their perfect sleepers. You are a great mum and doing an excellent job! It will improve- I found 6.5 months a massive turning point. You will get there.

4months Sun 22-Jul-18 16:26:54

Hi Op, I could have written your post! First and foremost you are not failing at all... 4 months is such a tricky time I am told and some have it easier than others... all do my
NCT group babies are sleeping through and my DS is so far away from that!
We must be kind to ourselves and give ourselves a big pat on the back for everything we do. Mummy ing is a tough job and we are probably our own worst critics!
Keep going with whatever works (I know I am!) and one day we will look back and realize it was a phase!!

AssassinatedBeauty Sun 22-Jul-18 16:36:23

It's not your fault! At all. It's the luck of the draw, some babies sleep and some less so. Also how they sleep now doesn't necessarily relate to how they'll sleep long term.

Both of mine were not great from birth till around 10 months. Both now sleep really well, the 2 year old can just be put down to nap/sleep and settles himself then sleeps through. My eldest was similar. Both were breastfed till 18 months plus.

It's worth repeating that you are not failing your son. This is how some babies are. You're doing a great job.

Do you have a partner? Are they doing all they can to support you?

Notlostjustexploring Sun 22-Jul-18 16:37:24

I was there myself a year and a half ago. And there are legions of us who have suffered through the same.

Burn the books. They only work if you were going to get a good sleeper anyway.

Do WHATEVER works for you. I know it's hard, but ignore everyone else. They are either lying, misremembering or lucky.

Some babies are bad sleepers, just like some adults are. Your son will eventually get it, mine did. It's just very, very hard until they do.

sockgnome Sun 22-Jul-18 17:12:30

You are not a failure! This is a common time for the experience you describe. All babies will sleep eventually but it's a developmental skill and they'll get their when they are ready. My LO was exactly the same. This weekend at 11 months she went through the night with only one feed (I slept incredibly badly as my boobs hurt but hey). I like you thought that if I only tried a bit harder it would be better. But actually I've been so much happier since I accepted her sleep for what it is, and learnt how to cosleep safely and comfortably which means I can cope with the wake ups. There is very little evidence to support most of the advice out there. I broadly agree with the burn the books advice, I'm planning on putting most of the books I read in the bin. But if you do want to read something from the gentle end of the spectrum that is backed up by evidence I really recommend Sarah ockwell-smith.
Re naps, some babies are just catnappers. My LO extended her naps on her own around 7 months, made sod all difference to night sleep. Looking back I wish I'd not spent so long trying to get her up nap in her cot but just embraced the carrier and pram naps. Good luck and remember you are a lovely mummy who is meeting her babies's needs at night just like you are in the day

Cottipus Sun 22-Jul-18 19:51:35

Some really great advice on this thread from other posters.

Just wanted to point out that other mums don’t always paint the full picture- they tend to report the great nights but not mention the tough ones. I’ve found with my mum friends that they give the impression that baby sleeps through but when I dug down they confessed that babies are waking at got the day at 4am/now having more feeds than before/waking all night teething.

Even at nearly 7m mine wakes several times in the night. I started co-sleeping after 2/3am and it’s made a huge difference to both our sleeps. I’m starting to feel normal again.

Do what you need to do to get through it and please try not to doubt yourself.

Mixedupmummy Sun 22-Jul-18 19:59:54

just wanted to echo that it's quite normal and will pass. I'm a mum of 3 and latest is 5 months old. routine helps, self settling helps... but at its not full proof. they all go through phases of having poor sleep. sleep regressions, teething, illness, leaps, hot weather, cold weather, light mornings etc etc
just do what you need to to get baby to sleep enough so not grumpy and rest when you can flowers

HayCaramba Sun 22-Jul-18 20:10:51

You are exclusively breastfeeding your baby - you’ve kept him alive and thriving for 4 months, you are def not failing!

I could have written your post with my first DS, who’s now 5. Now I’m on to DS2. He slept ok as a newborn and slept through once at 12 weeks. But baby sleep is not linear and now at 16 weeks he’s waking about 8 times a night and naps are in my arms. I’m cosleeping and feeding lying down and I’m getting through it ok. I second the recommendation to read Sarah Ockwell Smith The Gentle Sleep Book will change your perspective. I wish I’d read it with dS1.

Emrwood Sun 22-Jul-18 20:12:01

Same!! My little girl is 4 months old and was a brilliant sleeper until this past week. The 4 month sleep regression absolutely sucks 😫😫

I've had two melt downs today I can't wait for it to pass.

Sending 💜💜

LorelaiVictoriaGilmore Sun 22-Jul-18 20:16:12

What everyone else said - I've had 2 non-sleepers and consider myself to be a wild success as a mother! grin Some babes sleep, some don't. Almost all sleep eventually. You aren't alone! You aren't a failure!

Whereland Sun 22-Jul-18 20:22:26

I could also have written this. I was getting so stressed out about it. But one day I had a chat with myself and said there is no point getting worked up about it, I just have to go with the flow and things will improve at some stage. And they did. I honestly thought I would never see the day I could put him in his cot awake, shush him a little bit and he'd fall asleep. But he does (most of the time hmm). I promise it will get better

HidingUnderTheSofa Mon 23-Jul-18 13:07:48

Wow, I was not expecting all of these lovely messages. Thank you all of you, I’m very touched.

I’m on my phone and my brain can’t seem to work out how to copy the text to quote but to notjustexploring what you said about the sleep books only being any good if you were going to get a good sleeper in the first place...I have had a creeping fear that that might be the case. And that makes me feel more sad because I’ve been thinking if I just persevere a bit longer with what I’m trying, or if I just hone my technique a bit better he will start sleeping better. The thought that there’s nothing I can do about his sleep and just have to wake this out for however long (weeks? Months?) makes me just want to weep and weep.

I cried a lot last night and have cried a few times today. Feel on the verge of tears all the time.

Last night was up for two hours for one feed/nappy change/settling as I was so wired by the time he’d gone back to sleep that I was still awake by the time he woke up again.

I tried co sleeping for a while during the early weeks but found it very uncomfortable lying on my side with one arm up, and I found it so stressful not moving around in my sleep to get comfy for fear of squashing the baby. So am not keen to try that again although I know it’s proved to be a life saver for so many people.

My husband is supportive but works long hours in a job that requires him to have had a good nights sleep so I do all overnight care.

HidingUnderTheSofa Mon 23-Jul-18 13:15:49

I’m so tired that I’m finding it really hard to enjoy my baby. I sometimes feel like someone has drained all the colour out of my life. I’m not depressed, just very tired and feeling the physical and emotional effects of it.

I feel like sleep is the yard stick that mums (not parents, specifically it seems to be the mum’s “fault” when a baby sleeps badly) are judged on. I feel like people are judging me and I must be going badly wrong somewhere. I don’t understand why he used to be able to do double the stretch of sleep that he does now. I’ve read up on the four month sleep regression but people seem to fall into two camps- bad sleep for a couple of weeks and then it went back to normal, or it never got better without sleep training months down the line.

I’m pushing on with trying to get my baby to sleep in his cot at least some of the time during the day as he is a big baby and I can’t carry him round in a sling for long anymore. I also lack the energy to do all naps out in the pram- my pre pregnancy jeans are loose on me. That’s not a brag, I just mean I’m running on empty physically.

AssassinatedBeauty Mon 23-Jul-18 13:30:15

Does your partner have any blocks of time off, like weekends or as part of a shift pattern? Does he take charge as much as possible in between feeds on those days so you can maybe rest or sleep?

I know it's no help now, but this period of time won't last forever. The one certain thing about sleep is that it will change. My youngest is 2, and I can barely remember the first few months of little sleep, even though it was exhausting at the time.

olicat Mon 23-Jul-18 14:41:58

First of all, echoing pp - not a failure! At all.

I completely empathise - I have a 12 week old who initially was sleeping for longer periods but now is up several times a night and throws in the odd 20 min nap just for fun. I feel as if his sleep pattern changed as the weather became hotter - it's so uncomfortable for us so must be worse for them. I've decided not to beat myself up, wait til the heatwave has passed and then see how he's doing.

I also mix up his naps - unless I have somewhere to be I'll always attempt the morning one in the cot (sometimes works, sometimes not). Then usually for lunch I'll go out with the buggy as I know it'll guarantee he at least sleeps and I can go sit in a cafe and have a break. Then for a later afternoon nap I get set up with a book/drink/snack and do a lying down feed on the bed and let him sleep next to me while I hang out. Still not getting me any sleep but at least I'm not battling. I think people can label babies sleep wise - oh they're a terrible sleeper etc., which isn't helpful as really they're just babies - all different.

And have also been there with the so wired I can't sleep - one night recently I was awake 2-5am and so despairing! I just tell myself that it won't last forever.

Sorry for the essay but just wanted to offer support! Sleep deprivation is absolutely horrible. On weekends/whenever he's home could your partner take him for a walk in the buggy so you have an hour to yourself? I know (from bitter experience ha) that it will be impossible to sleep for this hour but is lovely to have a lie down and cup of tea.

olicat Mon 23-Jul-18 14:45:20

Oh and also not a brag, but also lighter than I was pre pregnancy and look KNACKERED. I watched a programme the other day where a character had to spend the night in a prison cell with a bare single bed and my immediate thought was 'ooh bet you could have a lovely sleep in there' 😂

Cottipus Mon 23-Jul-18 14:46:10

@HidingUnderTheSofa you have just reminded me that about 2 months ago I had a similar manic sleep deprived episode at 4am when I was pacing the floors and almost collapsed. I felt like I was losing my mind. It has a huge impact on your wellbeing. It seemed to peak around the 5 month mark but things are improving now.

Does your baby feed to sleep? I used to feed LO to sleep whilst I lazed on the sofa. Then I started gradually transferring her to the sofa after feeding with some white noise onto the sofa so I could at least make a cuppa. Now I can settle her on the sofa/bed for most naps after a little whinging. I've given up on trying to get her to nap in her cot for the moment but this is a compromise I'm happy with.

And she has only really started doing long naps (1hr +) over the last week or so. Before that it was 30-45 mins.

Some babies are just not great sleepers. It's nothing to do with your parenting. DD weans brilliantly but I don't think it's anything to do with my parenting, she just loves her food- but not her sleep!

mommybear1 Mon 23-Jul-18 15:34:58

You are not failing your son please don't listen to others - they lie. Honestly it was one of the single most helpful things the HV told me. Mine has just turned 9 months and doesn't sleep or nap as he is "supposed" to. I've stopped worrying about it and just go with it some nights are better than others but please take no notice of others you are not failing it will come.

MonicaGellerHyphenBing Mon 23-Jul-18 16:36:12

You're not a failure! I totally understand the depth of despair you feel when your baby just won't sleep. I know you want to 'fix' your baby's sleep but sometimes the best thing to do is just accept that their sleep is what it is and that it is a phase (which it is!). I tried desperately to extend DD's naps but nothing worked, then out of the blue they lengthened when she turned 6 months old. She also woke every 2/3 hours overnight until around 7 months and then that improved on its own too. The upside of having a baby that was so alert and awake all the time is that DD became mobile very very quickly and was much more content being able to move. So swings and roundabouts...

You're certainly not alone, lots of us have cried many tears for the exact same reasons. And please don't compare yourself to other mums, a lot of them LIE about how their babies are eating/sleeping/developing so take what they say with a pinch of salt.

HidingUnderTheSofa Tue 24-Jul-18 08:51:07

I’m so sorry to hear that so many of you are going/have been through similar experiences.

Last night was rough again- over an hour to settle to sleep. Gone are the days when I could feed him to sleep and then gently place him in his crib either asleep or he’d have a little stir but then peacefully go back to sleep. Now he tends to upset whenever I try to put him in his crib and I have to try a mixture of things to try to settle him. Sometimes he seems to get even more upset when I pick him up and hold him.

Anyway, the first stretch of sleep was 2.5 hours and then I didn’t get more than 1hr 45 minute stretches after that. Finally brought him into bed to feed lying down when he woke up again just before 6, in the hope of feeding off to sleep a bit longer but he wouldn’t go back to sleep. So we start another day with him over tired and me knackered and sad again.

It’s been six weeks now. I just cry every day and feel like I don’t know how to play with him/entertain him during the day either. He seems happier with other people than he is with me.

It’s not just the short stints of sleep that are hard. It feels so much more difficult to get him to sleep in the first place.

I remember trying to avoid feeding to sleep a while back because I thought that was the root of my problems....ha, more fool me. I’d love to be able to feed to sleep reliably now.

Sorry, just rambling away again.

I’m in awe of those of you who coped with much worse than what I’m dealing with and managed to be so stoic about it all. I am a mess.

SweepTheHalls Tue 24-Jul-18 08:54:42

Have you got room by your bed to attach the cot as a co sleeper?

Cel982 Tue 24-Jul-18 09:17:02

OP, please please give co-sleeping another shot. It's the only way I survived the first year with my similarly non-sleeping eldest, and if you can get the hang of doing it comfortably it will make life much easier. As the baby gets bigger they become much better at feeding lying down without you having to reposition yourself, and you will quickly get to a stage where you're both only barely waking for each feed, and can drift back to sleep almost immediately. (Also, only change nappies at night if dirty - no need otherwise.) There are lots of good videos out there showing different positions for safe co-sleeping. You are not going to squash your baby.

And just to reiterate how completely normal this is; my daughter woke every 45 minutes for months and it was ROUGH. I too, tortured myself reading every sleep manual I could get my hands on, I even had a brief and much-regretted attempt at sleep training, but none of that helped. Time, and really getting the hang of co-sleeping, did.

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