Thursday 22 October 2015

Sleep - the big issue!

Today a miracle happened, to many it may not seem much but to me it was a miracle - Benji was lying on the bed watching me put away the washing happily babbling away and then the next minute he was asleep! Then I realised it wasn't the first time, I didn't realise babies could do that... settle themselves, Riley never did... so it took me a good few minutes to decide how to use this time, do I shower, tidy the house, I just never had this with Riley!
It's funny as I had just been reading a great article on sleep in babies and a comment underneath said:
"I don't understand why parents have such problems with getting their children to sleep through the night - my two did from a few weeks old - it's all about a good routine"
Well I thought, I dare you to have a third child...
Sleep... I was a bit obsessed with it before having kids, but now at least it seems everyone is talking about it not just me!
I think for many of us with epilepsy sleep is so important, and I know I feel more at risk of seizures after a bad night. The thing with sleep is while it is something we have some control over, for example, chosing what time to go to bed and having good 'sleep hygiene' as the professionals put it... There is also a lot we don't have control over like whether out bodies and minds will actually allow us to drift off and whether the neighbours are planning to turn their music up to top volume... so no wonder it's such a hot topic in the epilepsy world and why I have always obsessed over it.
When we had Riley we got no sleep I mean I was literally adding up the minutes between her waking to get to a total of 2-3 hours a night. We tried everything and I mean everything - white noise, singing seahorse toys, lullabies, dummies, the list was endless. We had done everything by the book, starting a bedtime routine from day one and she just would not sleep. By 6 months we were desperate so we did controlled crying - Google it... I dare you!
Controlled crying is highly controversial. We had friends who had done it and their children seemed fine and we really didn't have much choice with Riley, we'd tried everything and I was going back to work soon and a seizure was a real risk. Well we used the super nanny technique and the first night she screamed for 2 and a half hours and I cried my eyes out. But the next day she woke up happy and was in such a good mood. By day 3 she was able to self settle herself in just a few minutes and it changed our lives finally I was getting a decent stretch of sleep just waking to give her a night feed.
Now aged 3 she sleeps through the night consistently and has never got out of her bed but she has very much been trained to sleep, she needs her routine and a quiet dark room to get to sleep which makes holidays a little tricky but we get round it by chosing holiday cottages rather than hotels.
Now Benji seems like a saint in comparison although if he were our first I think we'd still be exhausted - as I said before he can just drop off to sleep sometimes which is a new experience for me.
He just struggles to settle at night to begin with and doesn't always settle after his night feeds and quite often wants to suckle on our fingers (he won't take a dummy). Once he is asleep he'll sleep for about 4 hours between feeds which gives me a decent stretch of sleep. I don't know how I'd cope with a 3 year old as well with any less sleep so I am so grateful he sleeps better. Now we just need to work on him self soothing to sleep at night so hopefully we don't have to go through controlled crying again!

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