A PSA from a cranky mum

What Feels Like Everyone: “Is he sleeping through the night yet?”

Me (through gritted teeth): “He’s doing great!”

Me (screaming in my head): He’s six weeks old!! What the fuck do you think? He’s a newborn baby! Of course he’s not sleeping through the night. Dick.

WFLE: “My cousin’s baby slept through the night from just a few weeks old!”

Me (trying to restrain myself): “That’s truly something else. Your cousin is lucky!”

My internal scream: Your cousin doesn’t exist. Your cousin is full of shit or you are full of shit. Newborn babies are not expected to sleep through the night.

WFLE: “You should try sleep training. That’s what she did”.

Me: “I’m not worried. He’s doing great.”

Losing my mind: HE WAS JUST BORN. I hope you fall over and do something to your ankle. I hope it’s sore for three days but not that sore that you can’t work because I’m not that mean. I hope you get a really bad paper cut!

I know people are just trying to make conversation, but why are people so utterly obsessed with asking about how new babies are sleeping. I mean fair enough if the kid is one or two but come on! I got asked if my littliest was sleeping two days after he was born. TWO DAYS.

He’s delicious. He smells like rainbows. He’s the best thing I’ve ever done (along with my bigger baby). He smiles this gummy smile when he looks up at me. His hair is so soft. His cheeks are so fat. He is so perfect I want to have ten of him. Who gives a rats ass about whether he sleeps X hours at a time yet? He just got here. Just stare at him for a while. Welcome him! He’s perfect isn’t he?

And to the people who ALWAYS have to point out their sister’s neighbour’s ex-wife’s cousin’s baby slept through the night from 8 hours old. Wow, so awesome. That’s a great thing to tell someone who is probably waking up every three to four hours if they’re VERY LUCKY.

Or if your baby is one of those extremely, incredibly, exceptionally rare babies that slept for very long periods overnight from early on – how grand for you. Congratulations. Keep it to yourself.

Nobody who isn’t sleeping needs to hear that you’re sleeping, or that your friend’s brother’s aunty’s mother is. Nobody.

Also, this fixation other people have on newborns sleeping through the night is why I thought my firstborn would magically sleep through the night from eight weeks old. LIES! LIES!

Newborns aren’t meant to sleep all night. They have to wake up for feeds. It sucks, their mums are freakin exhausted. So don’t tell tales about sleep. Just look at how cute they are. And make mum a coffee. She needs that more than talk about an imaginary baby that slept through from seven minutes old.

*collapses into a heap*



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38 Comments on “A PSA from a cranky mum

  1. I heard my husband telling people that our baby was sleeping through the night at 6 weeks. What the actual. No she wasn’t. HE WAS, but me and the baby were not. He genuinely was sleeping through that whole damn thing – that’s how these BS myths start.

    • Hahaha Gina! You’re so right I do hear the “sleeping through” comment most often from the partner who isn’t feeding!

  2. You speak the truth. None of my babies ever slept through the night with any regularity, although once they reached those so-precious teenage years they proceeded to make up for lost time.
    The one thing I learnt from having kids was to never ever NEVER-EVER offer unsolicited advice. And to love coffee. And wine. Okay, the *three* things I learnt from having kids. Sounds like you’re doing an awesome job!

  3. I am that mean and after 14 months of being asked I hope a ream of paper gets people who ask and it’s death by a million papecuts.

    Sorry I’m not ok with letting my baby cry it out.
    She will get there in the end by herself.
    I now just smile sweetly and say “No she’s not sleeping through but she does say 30 words meaning fully, maybe it’s those 2am conversations that make my sleep thief so damn smart.”

  4. yeah i know how you feel. sometimes it’s other parents trying to empathise, sometimes it’s just them trying to one up or be annoying. most of us just grin and say “yeah, sleeping like a baby” (waking every 4 hours, screaming, feeding, needing to be changed and being difficult to go back to sleep). i guess it’s like talking about the weather. i got in trouble while talking on the phone to my grandma for asking about the weather, “ask about something else!” after 3 other siblings said exactly the same thing.

    i think that after about 9-10 months we finally got our son to sleep through the whole night, sort of. he sleeps ok now, after 3 1/2 years, but still gets up too early and stays up too late. all kids are different and not meeting the “prescribed deadlines” or whatever of the unrealistic expectations list doesn’t bother us at all. sure, he’s about a year behind with his speech, but when it all comes down to it, he’s healthy and happy, when he’s getting his own way. he grizzles and whinges, we’re hoping he’ll be toilet trained “real soon now” ™. healthy and happy. i have older step children with issues, i figure the positive for me is they are healthy and happy.

    anyway back to what you said, yeah, i feel for you, get sleep while you can, let your partner feed your child bottles of formula or expressed milk sometimes if you can

    sleep training, heh, for a baby, now that’s unrealistic. some people, a small group of people, have very young children that sleep through. that may actually be unhealthy, they need to feed more often than that, but all kids are different.

    here, have some coffee, and chocolate, and a pillow. i shouldn’t write comments while drunk, oops.

    • You can totally comment drunk here Andrew! I loved what you said. And I laughed at the toilet training comment. We will be toilet trained “real soon now” too…it seemed like just after I stopped finally getting the “how’s he sleeping” comments with my toddler, I started getting the “have you toilet trained him” comments. Really, you wanna talk about shit now?

      • heh things that weren’t in the job description, shit that goes everywhere, puke when you least expect it and onto your favourite shirt. i have a good group of friends though, we “won” one day when Charlie managed to have a sloppy poo that went out of his nappy and into his belly button. sorry, couldn’t help it, you mentioned talking about shit.

        i must admit, a few years ago (ok maybe nearly 30 years) when friends of mine had their first baby i asked some dumb questions. the mum wasn’t 17, the dad wasn’t much older but they had more clue than me. they laughed when i asked if he was walking or talking yet. according to my parents i had more of a clue about that stuff when i was 3, i toilet trained my two younger sisters. pity i don’t remember how i did it.

        funny, i’ve got 26 and 24 year old step kids, 13, 11 and 9 year old step kids and our 3 1/2 year old. i still have no clue, learning all the time

  5. I love the “are they a good sleeper?” question. What does that even mean?! My standard response now is “they sleep like a baby”

  6. I was told that “sleeping through” is actually only 5 hours straight (think it may of been my health nurse) I was so happy at hearing that cos at first I was like WTF my 6 week old is waking 2 hourly day and night and yours is sleeping 12 bloody hours!! so sometimes when parents say sleeping through it may only be 5 hours 🙂

  7. I am grateful for my sister (mom of 3) who told me (mom of 1) that babies aren’t really producing their own melatonin until 6 weeks and don’t even begin to have appropriate stores for an 8 hour sleep until 8 weeks. That doesn’t mean perfect nights at 8 weeks, that only means virtually impossible before 8 weeks. It didn’t make me any happier about waking up in the middle of the night, but it helped me stop googling newborn sleep schedules.

    • Thanks for your comment! I often wondered where on earth I got the eight weeks thing from! It’s interesting to know where it will have originally come from. I remember naively thinking eight weeks was some magical threshold. I also thought once they slept through once they then sleep through from then on! Hahahahahaha *sobs*

  8. Preach it! I could have written this rant myself, fueled by sleep deprivation and angry bile, a few years back.

    There’s this obsession with making parenting competitive. When people ask if your baby is sleeping through / talking / walking / toilet trained, what they are really aiming to do is make you understand that they spawned some wunderkind who has achieved all of these milestones ahead of the curve. Make no mistake: those parents are dickwaffles. There’s some yawning emptiness inside them that makes them feel the need to score points.

    None of my kids slept remotely like even an average baby until they were a year old. I, therefore, did not want to hear the soft utterances of condemnation such as “They really ought to be getting more sleep” or “my baby sleeps for 8 hours”. In my sleep deprived state, I wanted to stab forks into people’s thighs.

    The worst case was with my last baby. He was a preemie so I was in this cycle of nursing, syringe feeding previously expressed milk, pumping, sterilizing the pump and then trying to get up to 40 minutes of sleep before the whole cycle started again as he had to be fed every 2 to 2.5 hours. And during all of that, when I was a shambling zombie trying to care for four kids on such minimal, broken sleep, I had to contend with people helpfully pointing out that babies can sleep for hours and X, Y and Z baby were sleeping through for endless hours. Those people are lucky to still have all their limbs. My lack of energy saved them.

    • Exactly Laura! And has someone who also did the overnight pump thing – it’s The Worst. Like actually The Worst. Nothing wakes you up more at night than pumping! And you have to actually wash the pump! It’s so bad. I’m getting like horrible flashbacks! During that Awful Time someone said to me “sleep when the baby sleeps” and I told them to get fucked and I was horrified I’d said it and I apologised straight away. Now I look back on it and think: actually, that person was asking for that response. Hahaha I should have called him a dickwaffle!

      • I don’t know why people mess with sleep-deprived parents. They must like the adrenalin rush of risking having their internal organs scooped out with a dull spoon. I didn’t even mention the people who insisted on telling me at every opportunity that I should formula feed instead as it makes the baby fuller and more inclined to sleep. I mentally punched those people.

      • I just wanted to tell you that pumping mommas *can* refrigerate the pump parts rather than wash. I didn’t know it for ages (pumped at work)…but you can skip washing if pop them in your refrigerator….then wash when morning comes. Coulda, shoulda, woulda….

  9. This PSA is everything. I want to print it out and wear it on my forehead in response to all the stupid I’ve heard from people in the last 4 weeks.

  10. Our 3 children were all different, the eldest was the easiest as she woke often but was kind enough to only be up a few minutes. The middle guy never slept. The youngest was just cruel. He’d sleep a little longer each night for about a week and just when we had hope he’d start sleeping through the night, we’d get a night of 2 hour naps interrupted by 2 hours of trying to get him back to sleep.

    I do ask new parents about the sleep thing but it’s more of a gauge of how I should speak to them, or if the baby isn’t sleeping at all, if I should speak to them. It’s self preservation. I don’t want to be stabbed because I worded something wrong to a sleep deprived co-worker.

  11. Sorry I must have been one of those *lucky* mums with bubs both sleeping 8 hrs a night, the first from 22 days, the second from 21 days old. Good milk supply, content, well adjusted babies. I don’t believe in sleep training and follow attachment parenting ideas. What do I say to people in conversation? Each child is different! Celebrate how special they are. As long as they are healthy and content and loved, they will sleep through eventually, in their own time, when they are ready!

    • I don’t think anyone should apologise for having babies that sleep for long periods of time. I just don’t think they should be smug over something that in my view comes down to luck. And I think they should choose their words carefully, because words have weight. And they feel pretty heavy when you’re living on only a few hours sleep.

  12. Ah, baby-racing, the shittiest sport ever invented.

  13. People seem to think that once you are pregnant/have a baby they can ask you any kind of normally personal question and tell you how you should be doing things. I live in Italy & was totally gobsmacked when I was in the supermarket with my baby & strangers would ask me “do you have your milk?” WTF!! Since when is that ok??to blatantly ask someone you don’t know if they are breast feeding! I was stunned to say the least ??

  14. My kids didn’t sleep through the night until they were almost one. My youngest had lots of ear infections and would often spend the whole night crying until I realised that ‘hey, he might have another ear infection’ and I’d dose him up with panadol and we’d finally get a couple of hours before having to take the oldest to school. And then work for the rest of the day while juggling a cranky baby with a sore ear. It was hell. I never ask if the baby’s sleeping because babies who sleep through the night are really unicorns.

  15. My kids are all grown up now, but all 3 were completely different in there sleep patterns, my first was one that did sleep 8 hours from birth, I thought something was wrong with him and kept checking on him, but didn’t dare tell anyone other than my doctor or plunket nurse, my son now in his 30’s suffers insomnia, guess he slept too much, my girls were up and down like yo-yo’s, every 3- 4 hours so I have been on both ends of the scale and try hard not to ask stupid questions of new mums.

  16. I hear you! Even worse is when that question is preceded by, “You look tired.” Um, DUH! No need to point out that I look exhausted!

  17. Health visitor asked me at five weeks if my baby was ‘soothing himself to sleep yet’.

    Oh, oh yeah, yeah he is actually. He just reads his little book for a while then writes an entry in his journal about all the things he has felt grateful for that day. Then, he sings a little song, puts his eye mask on, rolls over and drifts off like a dream.

  18. For goodness sake what is “a well adjusted baby” aren’t we talking about tiny babies here?

  19. I honestly hope that people who ask that question get more than a really bad paper cut! That is the number one, most god awful question a person can ask someone with a newborn. I hated it! And then the advice about sleep training?! Really?! At that young age. My kids still don’t sleep through – ages 16, 13 and 9. xx

  20. No one is ever “happy” with what you do…lol My 1st woke every 45mins or every 90 mins for over a year. I could never figure out why those specific times…well, turns out baby sleep cycles are 45mins. He had silent reflux, so if he managed not to wake when one sleep cycle ended…then reflux woke him by the next…ugh. And I worked from 6 weeks, and I was sooooo sick of suggestions, I just started lying…not to make anyone feel bad or out of embarrassment. I lied to get them to STFU because suggestions were far more plentiful than signs of empathy. I didn’t give specifics, just things like ‘he’s doing so much better”, “we’re great” inside I was DYING. Medications were of no use, elimination diets didn’t help (nursing) so I just put him in my bed, stuck a boob in his mouth & prayed for his healing. LOL

    Baby 2 was insane….he went into a pattern of sleeping solid like 4 hrs…but then would be awake…for like 3 hrs, then sleep 4 hrs…you get the idea. You couldn’t keep him awake, he would nod off upright in a chair, being tickled, eating, you name it. Then at about 18 months, out of nowhere, I managed to get him to skip all naps & he went to sleeping 14 hrs straight. THEN everyone ragged on me that 18 months is too young to cut out all naps, ummmm NO IT’S NOT. If it works for my kids, STFU…I am HAPPY. Like deliriously HAPPY, and he is fine as well. Then they complained I had to be home by 430pm or he would nod in the car & I’d be SCREWED…so I LIVED by that clock…so I was “allowing” him to control me…ummm no – I’m not messing with a GREAT system.

    Now baby number three…another story as well. But it will all come out in the wash. The oldest is still my worst sleeper. If it’s a good night, he sleeps all night, OR a bad night is him up 4 times in 4 hrs with a different “problem” each time…itchy tag, sweaty, cold, stuffy nose, peed on his pants when he went to the toilet, sleep walking, bad dream, you name it. And I’m super extra lucky as he is so ornery when he wakes up that if my ESP fails to diagnose said problem, he might get noisy enough to wake the baby. Ugh. Some day he will move out…or stop needing this….at least that’s what I hold on to. 🙂

  21. Has anyone ever slapped a child health nurse? … i took my 2 yr old son in for a ‘health check’, was crying like a demented zombie as i explained how he had never slept through the night and i was losing my mind… her response: “boys who are very clingy and co-sleep, grow into wonderful men”. At that point, right then, i could not give a hoot what kind of man he would be in 20yrs time – i was wondering how I would drive us both home without falling asleep at the wheel!

  22. Man, my four year old still doesn’t sleep through the night consistently, let alone the eighteen month old. It is what it is. I feel pretty lucky that I stumbled across the Sears books when our eldest was a few days old and my husband and I were tired crying from trying to get this angry baby to sleep in his bassinet. They advocated a few key things: however everyone in the family gets the best night’s sleep is what is best for you, if you resent it change it, babies are not designed to sleep through the night so don’t expect it and co-sleeping (done safely) is a perfectly valid option. I’m not really one for parenting books and I’ll take every bit of advice with a grain of salt but those books were LIFESAVERS.

  23. Thanks again Emily for saving my sanity! Have my well meaning MIL staying to help while my husband’s away. My 3 year old girl still wakes at night and hops in our bed, sometimes sleeping well, other times not. She was a total reflux baby (as is my 4 month old boy.)

    MIL unfortunately started talking to daughter yesterday about staying in her own bed at night (not something me and my husband need her to do, we’re fine with her hopping in!) Later, when daughter was asleep, told me she was doing autosuggestion. Said that she was talking to her sister in law about this “new batch of babies that don’t sleep” and the SIL said that when her son was one, she just said to him one day that that’s enough, he’s not going to be breastfed in the night any more and that she wasn’t going to tend to him, his dad was. And son from then on just slept through the night with one visit from dad on the first night. And that was it.

    Oh thanks. Thanks for the suggestion that’s all I need to do. At the moment, between the baby and the pre-schooler, my night sleep is adding up to about 3 hours. But I’m proud of the fact that I’m not resorting to shaming, manipulation, amateur hypnotherapy or any other technique to hurry them to their milestones. And like that actually happened anyway! Arrrgh feel so annoyed and unsupported. So glad for you and your commenters. Nice people. Nice nice people.

  24. Ps sorry the above comment is a ramble…grammatically weird too…but I know you get why!

  25. I think you might be my spirit animal. If my mother in law tells me one more time, that my husband slept through the night from 6 weeks I will not be responsible for my actions.