I remember when my wife was pregnant and my brother-in-law told me, “the first 3 months are the hardest, then they become self sufficient”. While I looked forward to our three-month-old cooking us meals and pottering on with the housework, it finally dawned me how hard the next three months would be as soon as we had Ayla home. The first night dread washed over me with my brother-in-laws words ringing in my ears after a grand total of 0 hours, 0 minutes sleep. “I can’t do this for three months, Rach” I said to my wife setting up the whole ‘whose had more sleep’ argument. I had conveniently forgotten my wife had endured a 24-hour labour and a sleepless night in hospital before she’d got to this point. I was clearly more tired than she was though.
One of us dropping into a catnap became a bone of contention for the other and a massive tool for point scoring. I somehow managed to get more sleep working night shift than sleeping in my own bed at night. Guests would come over and find me rocking out of habit in the corner as I’d become so used to the motion of trying, (in vain!), to get our girl back off to the land of nod. For the first few weeks, the only time Ayla seemed to sleep was during the day or when she was feeding. As only Rachel could do that, you may have thought I could have snuck in forty winks, NOT THE CASE. Unfortunately, Rachel found feeding very painful so I was always on hand, like a trusty sidekick, with an ice-cold glass of water that I generally had to pour into her mouth to distract her from the pain.
In those early days, Ayla would ‘sleep’ in her Moses basket next to us every night. We used an owl nightlight and a musical one that shot dancing images on the ceiling but the batteries ran out daily. Ayla didn’t take a bite of notice but with the lack of sleep, weird mechanical music and random dolphins being projected on the ceiling I felt like I was tripping major balls like I was living on 21 Jump Street. We hoped these would ease her off but very little worked. Married just under a year, my wife and I would forlornly say, “we’ll never be able to leave her and go back downstairs”, so we’d transport everything from her moses basket to her nappy bag upstairs with us at night and hope for the best.
Had it not been for my wife’s perseverance we may never have cracked our sleep scrape. We brought Ayla’s already assembled cot into our room from her nursery, took off the side and brought the mattress up level with our bed. The extra room the cot provided, making Ayla more relaxed, worked wonders meaning we got more sleep than we’d had in months. Our silent raves at the bottom of the stairs when we finally got her off to sleep will be a cherished family memory forever.
One of the things that did work with Ayla was the Sound Sleeper app which was brought to our attention by fellow parent blogger, Pirates and Dollies. The only problem with the app was, it was downloaded on our phones meaning one of our mobiles had to be left in the room with Ayla. I’m not going to lie, I used to pretend my mobile was out of battery so Rachel’s phone would stay with the baby and I could keep up to date with twitter and the like. *evil laugh*
The app features some lovely, relaxing sounds capable of putting the most wide awake of us to sleep such as, the sound of the womb, a flowing mountain river or the ocean. However, the app does also feature some rather bizarre sounds such as the creepy hush, hush, hush and the frankly rude shhhh which Mr. Pricklepants from Toy Story 3 would be proud of.
All in all, of the various fathers I’ve spoken to, every baby is different. For Ayla, she responded well to the big move to her cot. We often found she would become frustrated in her moses basket as she could reach out and touch the sides. I suspect it’s like being completely surrounded by people on a busy Saturday afternoon in Primark. The added room and freedom she felt in her cot meant all three of us got a lot more shut-eye than those bleary eyed, moses basket nights. At this point we were still wandering around our bedroom with the lights off, not making a peep. This led to many stubbed toes, Dastardly style muttering and some near death experiences at the hands of Rachel after I stood on a Tombliboo and woke the baby (“Tombli-BOO!”). Soon, we would be able to reclaim our bedroom. This came with a whole new host of challenges which we’ll cover on another instalment of Sleep Tactics.
We’d love to know what you found the best formula or if you have any questions for our fellow Daddoo’s to answer. Drop us a line, comment below and share your best tactics?