What were we thinking! promote confidence and reduce distress in parents with a first baby

Juliet, Johnny & Evelyn - Week 11

By Juliet

Juliet, Johnny & Evelyn - Week 11

My parents went home last week so it was back to just Johnny, Evelyn and me.  Again it was sad to see them go but nice to get back to just us again. 

The evenings have been the hardest time so I always get to the point in the afternoon when I would love Johnny to be there to help me but he’s at work and isn’t good at getting home at a decent hour (i.e. 5.30pm), he’s more likely to finish work and get home about 6.30-7pm. Although I nag and he is working on it! 

He is amazing once he gets home. If I haven’t had a chance to organise food before the feeding frenzy starts he gives Evelyn a bath if he is home early enough, cooks dinner and does the dishes.

I think it was about this time that Evelyn’s sleep/awake cycles during the day got a bit out of whack. She would have some days when she could be easily settled back to sleep after about 90mins still but then the next day would be awake for 4 hours at a time and only go to sleep on the boob.  Most of the time she is not cranky when she was awake for that long.  A lot of the time she would get hungry, feed and fall asleep on the boob but if I tried to take her off it she would wake up and then by the time she had finished her feed she would wake up again. 

I guess a lot of it is my fault as I have never tried to keep her in the cot if she wakes up after I have put her down.  I would pick her up again and try and settle her but it never seemed to help her to sleep.  I am not a patient person so I would sit with her at the cot for what seemed like forever for me (to be honest it was not a long time at all) and I would give up as her eyes would be wide awake, she would either be cranky or smiling at me and as soon as I would pick her up she would seem happy and not tired. 

If it got to over 4 or so hours, I would put her in the pram and take her for a walk and she would usually sleep quite well on the walk instead.  I know that’s not the best way to teach her how to sleep.  I always struggle with getting to have her day sleeps and can’t understand why she can’t settle herself when she can sleep through the night for 10 hours at a time? She often only goes down for 2 sleeps during the day and they aren’t usually more than 1hr long, sometimes only 30 mins. 

The mum’s group, during these two months, has been a great support for me.  There seems to be a few mums like me who don’t have any family in Melbourne so it feels like we all have a good connection. The way it is run in our council area is excellent as well, the nurse facilitated sessions have now finished and we have been set up with a date and time and a room that we can meet at once a week so we don’t need to organise places to catch up, we can all just turn up as and when we can.

Expert response from What Were We Thinking! expert, Ann O'Doherty

Dear Juliet, looking after a baby is hard work especially on your own through the day and into the late afternoon and evening (when babies are often most unsettled). Babies, while so precious, do create a lot of work that is hard to get to when they need our time and love and comfort so often, especially when they are not sleeping well and can therefore be cranky, irritable and very hard to settle.

Johnny sounds like a very involved and supportive Dad but every couple needs to discuss and negotiate their way around their new roles as parents and the division of paid and unpaid work after the birth of a baby.

Sitting down at a time when you are both calm and not too tired to have a conversation about your need for earlier support and help in the late afternoon/evening can help clarify the situation in case Johnny does not realise how hard things have become for you.

Having visitors in your home can alter a baby’s sleeping habits especially a house full of loving grandparents. It may be that Evelyn is getting overtired during the day and is unsure of how to settle herself to sleep during the day.

We all need support and information to develop skill and confidence about our babies and their patterns of sleep and growing and learning.

Parents can access help with sleep and settling on-line (through the What Were We Thinking website) or through community Infant Sleep and Settling supports. These programs can offer information, ideas and strategies to try.

Sleep issues in babies are very common and your friends in the parent group have probably experienced some sleep issues themselves and may have already accessed programs that they found useful and can share information with you about 

Posted in:  Baby 9-12 weeks