My Heart, Your Home: November 2014   

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Tresillian - The sleep School

Hi, my name is Jess and I am a sleep-a-holic. Its been three and a half years since my last sleep. I haven't been able to contain my cravings or limit my desire. I spend my days waiting until I can have the next hit, but I have three little people who have made it their life mission to steal it away from me. 

I havent spoken much about Asher's sleep patterns, mainly because my biggest struggle has been watching Evelyn's nightly battle to head off to sleep. But the combination of three children and there constant fight with sleep had finally taken its toll on me and it became apparent that Asher was, in actual fact, the worst of them all. 

I had a week, about a month ago, where this sleep deprivation had wreaked havoc with my body and my mind. A throat infection that I had been fighting for months had travelled its way down and caused pneumonia and all I really needed was to sleep for a week, which was impossible. I was completely exhausted that I began to forget things. Things as simple as what day it was, my shoes, drink bottles, commitments I had made, important events in friends lives. But on this particular day, I forgot the most important of all the things. I had dropped the girls off at a girlfriends house so that I could go to the Drs and have my chest checked. I drove to the  Drs, I got out of the car, into the waiting room, sat down and sighed relief that I didn't have the children with me. It was then that I realised that I did actually have a child with me, only I didn't. I had left him behind in the car. I ran out to the car and had retrieved him in less than 5 minutes. But, I had forgotten him.

It was at that point that I realised just how broken this lack of sleep had made me. I never thought I would be the person who could forgot my child. But there I was, sitting in the Drs waiting room, in absolute shock. So while I was in the Drs I broke down and asked for a referral to tresillian and then I held my breath and waited for admission. Two and a half weeks, I only had to survive two and a half weeks.

On Monday the 17th I packed my packs and Asher and I left the family to spend four nights learning how to sleep. Walking into Tresillian (willoughby) was like walking into your Grand Mothers house. It felt like a big warm hug. The nurses greeted us with smiles, they were gently spoken and empathetic. We sat down and went through a welcome interview, telling them about what our patterns and habits were. I advised that he wakes every 30-40 minutes over night. I wasn't worried too much about his day sleeps. But his nights were an issue. We had been surviving the nights by pulling him into bed with me, feeding him and then co-sleeping. It was the only way I could ensure that I, and the house, would be able to get some sleep. 

So when Monday night arrived and he went to sleep without so much as a complaint, I worried that I would appear to be lying. However, within 30 minutes he started to wake. Waking four times between 7 and 8:30pm. He finally settled for a short two hours and then the party began. I was so shocked by just how bad it actually was. He was loud, he screamed, he was wide awake. At 3am the nurse removed him from my room and tried to settle him in the common room while I tried to get some sleep. I slept from 3am until 5am, when Asher was due for a feed. It was horrible, I was emotional.

Night two, we had the same experience. Asher was again removed from my room, just so I could get an hour or two sleep. The nurse, Michelle, who looked after him was so gentle and beautiful, towards both myself and to Asher. I felt safe and comfortable to return to my room and get some sleep. 

I woke the next morning and I was truly disheartened, I could not imagine that this was ever going to change. That this was to be my life, from here on in. It was so defeating. The nurse that morning readmitted me to return the following week, as Asher was just so impossible. Night three rolled around and I felt so extremely anxious and apprehensive. I didn't want to tackle ANOTHER night. 

I put him to bed at 7pm on night three and I sat on the lounge and I couldn't help but I cry. The hope and faith I had put into the magic that is Tresillian was quickly leaving me. I was surrounded by others Mothers who were just short of Angels, they were loving and supportive and encouraging. I took myself to bed in preparation for another night of torture. Asher woke as I entered the room and I gave him a bottle. It took him 1 and a half hours to settle. I drifted off into a nervous sleep and when I was woken by Asher's cry, I couldn't help but think "here we go again". Until I looked at the clock and it was 5am! Amazing! I was all smiles!

Night four came around and I found myself convinced the night before was just a fluke. But, he proved me wrong. When went to bed at 7:30pm, he woke at 2am and then slept until 7:30am! We woke up and had some play time and he rolled from back to tummy for the first ever time. I was able to cancel our re-admittance and come home positive that we will be okay!

Tresillian is the place that sleeping angels are made from! The support, the company, the sleep, the kindness, it is incredible. I left there feeling calm, confident and strong. I will be forever grateful to the women who supported me through what was such a highly emotional and physically draining week. I will remain confused about what we really did to change his habits. Other than stretching out his feed times and his wake times, I really do not know what the magic cure was! 

Last night, all three children were asleep at 10pm (the girls sharing a room for the very first time and Asher in his big man cot!). Anthony and I crawled into bed at 11pm and we weren't woken until 5:30am. 

Hi, my name is Jess and I am a sleep-a-holic and I think I may just find my hit in the next coming days!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Passing ships in the night

The thing about having a child who doesn't go to sleep until after you wish to be in bed yourself is that it means you do not get even a moment to yourself. Not a moment without a child chatting in the background or asking for something or going to the bathroom. You do not get the time to spend with your partner, or eat a meal in peace. You are forever fending off questions, nurturing their souls, losing your temper. The thing about going from waking moment, to slumber (and multiple times in between) is that you forget to nurture your own soul, feed your own heart and care for your own self. 

I knew when I started having children that my life would change dramatically, I knew that I would sacrifice my time, to have shared time. I knew that my hobbies and interests would take a back seat for a short while. Having children, a family, was so much more important to me than all of those "sacrifices". However, what I was not aware of is that I wouldn't know myself outside of my connection to my children. I wasn't aware that my body would not exist without the attachment of a child, from the moment I rolled out of bed, until I rolled back in. 

I have found myself in a situation where I am unable to decipher where I, and the things I love to do, begin. Where my children and their demands end. I spend my days living on another planet, giving my every ounce of energy to my children, yet waiting for the moment I can go to sleep. I miss being able to recharge by writing, or drawing, or being with Anthony. I miss being able to reenergise by being me.

Anthony and I built our relationship on the foundation of bottles of wine and late night talking. I was seduced by our conversations. We fell in love over a glass of red wine. We danced to common music. We would watch the sun set and the moon rise. We would connect over beautiful food. Our love thrived with each others silences and it grew with our exchange of words. Oh how I miss being able to have an uninterrupted meal, a glass of good wine and hours of conversation with the man who taught me how to be. I miss being able to sit in his company and feel the strength of our love forming, growing, developing. There is something to be said for just being with each other, to feel each other. 

Life with three extremely young children has robbed us of being with each other. We are like passing ships in the night, giving each other the occasional nod of support as we swap to settle another child. A groan of sympathy when another child wakes at the darkest hours of the night. A sigh of acknowledgement when we both collapse on the lounge in a heap to attempt to eat dinner. Conversation revolves around our plan to survive the next 24 hours and then it comes to a halt and we merely survive, side by side. There is no romance, there is limited connection, there is zero to none conversation and there is just no time. 

We are surviving these early years of parenthood, the very best we know how. We are stronger than ever before, even if we are not connected like before, because we know that at the end, one random night, our children will all sleep. They will sleep and then we will sleep and we will have our very own family. A family that we created, we raised, we nurtured and we grew, all on our very own.

On that day, we will high five each and we will know that those nods of encouragement, the sighs, the nights of passing ships, were all worth while

as we will have the rest of our lives to be, to converse and connect, to fall in love over the sounds of our children laughing, and sleeping.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sleep... Please!

I am by no means leading a life any different to the next person. My situation is no harder, or easier, than yours. My struggles are not comparable to yours and my triumphs are no bigger than yours. We are all living a life that is full of its very own, individual hurdles, bumps and valleys. On some days we cruise through on autopilot without a single hiccup and on other days we have to accelerate and hit the brakes constantly.

Lately I feel like I have been taking a back seat in living my life. When I wake up in the morning I feel like I am scraping myself up off the ground, I drag myself out to the living room with my knuckles dragging along behind me. I manage to prop myself up on the lounge and feel like I have to hold my eyes open for the rest of the day. My company is poor, my speech is slurred, my brain is mush and my tolerance is low.

There is very minimal sleep in this household. For those of you who have followed me and my blog for quite some time you would know that I have struggled with Evelyn getting to sleep for two years now. She gave up her day naps two years ago. She pulled all her hair out of her head two years ago and we had to shave her head and remove her dummy at the same time. For two very long, very arduous, very straining years I have battled with her to go to sleep. We have tried each and every approach. I took her to tresillian a year ago where they sent me on my way with a wish of good luck. But the problem still remains. She will not go to sleep before 10pm at the very earliest. Some times she is awake until midnight. She is up multiple times throughout the night and she wakes early. 

Evelyn is a beautiful, calm and timid child but her lack of sleep is beginning to strangle that girl. She has become clumsy, grumpy and very intolerant. She is suffering and we are suffering. In a months time I will be taking her to a paediatrician, finally, to have her prescribed melatonin and in the mean time I will hold my breath and clutch at every single ounce of hope I have left that the melatonin will be the answer to my very desperate prayers.

I have three children now and this of course means that there is more chances of being woken throughout the night. I don't think that I am awake any more than anyone else, but with my children, the chances obviously become much higher. Zalia tends to sleep quite well. I give her a bottle to go to sleep, this is not ideal at all, but for the meantime it is working. She mostly will drift off to sleep and she tends to be the one that will remain asleep. But if she is teething, which she unfortunately is quite badly at the moment, she does manage to wake up several times.

At this point in time, however, my biggest battle is my little man Asher. He and I managed to see every single hour of the night from 11pm onwards. He wakes every 40 minutes. He feeds back to sleep and then he wakes again. He doesn't scream as long as he is with me, not like Zalia used to as a bub, so I have always felt like I should be grateful. He is chilled out and easy and quiet. But he is awake and if I return him to his bed awake, he does scream. I don't feel so grateful anymore, I feel a wreck. However, in one weeks time I will be taking him for a week long stay at Tresillian (the NSW sleep and behavioural clinic) and I could just about back flip with excitement!

For two very solid years I have not been able to have a moment to myself within my own home. For two very solid years I have a child up with me until I go to sleep, sometimes she will even be awake after I fall asleep. I wake with the children. And now I have a child with me, awake, every single 40 minutes of the night. There isn't a moments break. Not a second to catch my breath. Or to sort my thoughts. 

It is exhausting and challenging. I love all three of my children, to no end, but I would really like to have just an hour to myself before passing out in bed. I have been dealing with this situation on my own (with Anthony of course) and I believe that I manage to do it quite well. I have moments where the stress of it piles up on top of me and I can find myself so mad. But I ensure that Anthony and I get a night away to try and recharge every now and then. Without that, I think we would both snap.

We carry this family basically on our own, with no help from the outside. Within the last 12 months I have managed to surround myself with some beautiful friends who do step in and they take the girls for me when they see me beginning to drown (and I am ever so grateful). I am okay with carrying the responsibility of my children, but sometimes I do wish that I had that family to fall back on. Someone to turn up on my door and send me to bed. Sometimes I do find myself envious of the people I know who have that support that I so badly crave.

I am okay, I am resilient, I am capable of raising my children and my family solely on my own. But sometimes, as crazy as it sounds, I wish that I wasn't okay. Sometimes I wish that I could scream that I am not okay and know that I had that family to step in and take over, to help and support. To clean my house, or wash my clothes, or even make me a meal. Sometimes I crave that attention. 

My situation is no worse, no harder, no easier or no better than the next Mummy, we all have our battles and it is always relevant to the lives we lead at the time. I am not competing with anyone, or trying to overshadow anyones situations. I am just a great big mess of no sleep and I really needed to scream from the rooftops that right now, this blows!

Good Night World!