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To wonder how on earth you cope with more than one child?

(35 Posts)
BB2000 Sat 02-Feb-13 15:06:26

Clearly IABU. But please talk some sense into me (kindly). I am very sleep deprived and loosing the plot somewhat.
I have a lovely 18month old DD. Lovely in every way, but was a really very, very, very clingy baby - not wanting to be put down at all (she had a difficult start poor thing being in SCBU). She is now actually a very easy toddler and sociable little girl, but is still a terrible sleeper.
We had been making quite a bit of progress on sleep using a mixture between the no cry sleep solution and pick up put down (I didn’t want to co-sleep and really didn’t want to do CC or CIO). But we’ve had a bad January with various illnesses and teething and after nights and nights of terrible sleep –up 1-3 1/2 hours a night – I’m struggling to see reason.
I would love to have a second child and had been planning to get on the case soon (due to biological clocks ticking and all that), but am very worried about the sleep. How on earth do people manage with a new born and a poor sleeping toddler (let alone people who have more than two DC)? I feel like the walking dead already and I only have one child! On the other hand to not have a second child just because of sleep when hopefully that will eventually right itself seems silly really and something I would undoubtedly regret later on.
Oh I should say I have a lovely DH who does his share when here, but is away a lot for work. There is no doubt that lack of sleep has put a strain on our relationship, though we still get on very well and he is a great dad.
So AIBU? And even more importantly, those of you with poor sleepers how do you manage with two (or more)?

barleysugar Sat 02-Feb-13 15:11:44

Aw you really sound knackered, bless you. It will get easier, I promise. When I had an 18 month old I also had a one month old newborn! I was blessed with a good sleeper so I can't really tell you how I coped. You do just get on with it though, and in the blink of an eye, they are 7 and 6.

In honesty though, I think the more little ones you have in some respects the easier, as they will entertain themselves together, freeing you up to actually rest during the day!

We have 4dc with number 5 on the way. They have all been very clingy for the first two years. Napped on me during the day, slept with me at night. Carried in a sling almost constantly (literally, apart from feeds, nappy changes, showers and toilet trips!)

I fell into this way of doing things, because essentially, I'm lazy. My own sleep is very important to me, so everything else works around it! The youngest two, aged 4 and 2 still creep into our bed most nights. We don't mind, as long as they just squeeze in quietly. I get plenty of sleep. I breast fed for the first 15 months, so they just fed while I slept. I bottle fed the eldest two, and had much less sleep, but still enough.

I'm very lucky that mine have been soothed by just being with me, so I consider them good sleepers, but others would consider the way we do it hell on earth!

Good luck finding a solution that allows you to get as much sleep as you can! We have had a few sleepless nights, and I can't imagine coping with it longterm.

ceeveebee Sat 02-Feb-13 15:22:49

You cope because you have to. I had many a night with my twins with 1-2 hours sleep in total. I was lucky in that they got into a great routine pretty easily and were sleeping through by 12 weeks. I also had no choice but to let one CIO if dealing with another - sometimes it's an unfortunate reality.
And I think once you have two then it becomes pretty impossible to have a clingy baby - sounds harsh but they just have to become unclingy. I know lots of twins and none are Velcro babies.

highlandcoo Sat 02-Feb-13 15:32:20

Taking a slightly different view .. unless time is really running out for you - do you have to have another child very soon?

I had a two-year gap followed by a four-year gap and coping with a third DC, when the others were soon at school, playing together etc was a doddle in comparison to the previous experience of a toddler and a baby. Four years is not a huge gap and the DC can still grow up with a good close bond. I also enjoyed having a little one so much more that time round (I have few memories of my second DC as a baby sadly as was in a fog of exhaustion much of the time)

I know a two-year age gap seems to be incredibly common but there's no law that says it's the best solution for every family ..

Crazyx4 Sat 02-Feb-13 15:44:33

I have 4 dc & my 2nd was a terrible sleeper. Up until the age of 5 he would wake 7 or 8 times every night. So I had a nightmare 5 year old, 3 year old and a waking baby to deal with, as well as trying to get the eldest to school on time. It was truly awful and I'm not quite sure how I got through it, especially as my dh didn't get back until at least 8 every night.
I think the only thing you can do is muddle through & let your standards drop. My house looked awful for a few years but catching up on sleep whenever i could was just more important than cleaning.
If its any help, he is now nearly 8 & is the best sleeper I have. An earthquake going off couldn't wake him. It really will get better.

Bluemonkeyspots Sat 02-Feb-13 15:49:14

Two things-

1/ no two children are the same so you may get a good sleeper next time (or a worse one but let's overlook that for the moment)

2/ you are not even pg yet so have at least 9 months to get dd sorted. Think about how much has changed in the last 9 months, in another 9 months she will be a full blown toddler (also going through the terrible twos but let's overlook that as well grin)

DystopianReality Sat 02-Feb-13 15:51:15

CRAZY lovey post...

HecateWhoopass Sat 02-Feb-13 15:52:55

There's 15 months between my two.

My first woke up every two hours each and every night until my second was born. I'm not exactly sure how I became pregnant with my second, it's all a bit of a blur grin

Then it seems they had a meeting and arranged to, between the two of them, ensure that we only slept for a maximum of 2 hours in every 24 hour period grin. My second loved his sleep, and slept for hours on end from the beginning, so they obviously had a rota. One of them would refuse to sleep until midnight, while the other kipped, then they'd let us have a couple of hours and the other would wake up and want to play.

They continue, at 12 and 13, to keep us knackered grin

I'm not selling it to you, am I? wink

Thing is - You just do cope. I don't know how. It just happens. you grab sleep when you can, you lower your standards a lot grin and you muddle through and before you know it, they're teenagers and you think how the hell did that happen? Where did the time go.

I know that it was knackering, but what I remember is how much fun it's always been watching these two little monsters growing up.

Crazyx4 Sat 02-Feb-13 18:21:14

Silly as this seems, it may be worth getting the doctor to check you out if you are really tired. After my 3rd I was exhausted but put it down to having a newborn & her brothers inability to sleep for longer than an hour at a time. It came to a head when I was trying to butter a slice of toast & couldn't physically do it. My hand just couldn't move. It turned out to be an under active thyroid which can be triggered by having a baby. I had just been telling myself it was normal to feel tired. If it gets too much please just go to your gp.

MsPickle Sat 02-Feb-13 19:18:35

My ds was a bad sleeper and then got better at sleeping but spent months getting up at 5/5.30. We spent a lot of time sofa dozing while he watched tv! It got better gradually over the last year and now he's 3 he's generally pretty good, although we still have occasional early rising days/night wakings cos of monsters. Dd is 7 weeks and although she's given us her fair share of trouble so far she's a much better sleeper than ds at the same stage. We weren't ready any sooner for no.2! I've friends with a smaller gap but where no.2 is the same as dd, I think the main difference at this stage is that ds is more independent and toilet trained. He's also safe to be left to play without needing eyeball contact the whole time but that's more to do with personality I think, he likes playing with his toys so rarely comes up with dangerous 'experiments'. He's also doing a great job of adjusting, helped by dh managing to be home for bedtime, necessary as dd cluster feeds then (hence me posting now!). I think there's no such thing as the perfect gap, your family will be a family whatever the gaps/exhaustion smile

Cakecrumbsinmybra Sat 02-Feb-13 19:23:13

Do you have to think about it now? DS1 was a terrible sleeper from about 18 months - 2.5 years. People would ask me how I coped, but it had just become normal for me, but I absolutely would not have had another in that time. When he got a little older (from 2.5, reasoning started working a little -reward charts etc) and by 3 he was sleeping though til 7. We had DS2 when DS1 was 3.10! So clearly that extra sleep worked! They are both fab sleepers now - DS2 is 26 months and sleeps 7-7, so there is no reason you will have another bad sleeper. Do what you have to do to get more rest right now, and I am sure she will get better. See the GP and get referred if you think she has a real problem.

gordyslovesheep Sat 02-Feb-13 19:27:46

I have 3 - it gets easier - hang in there x

Sugarice Sat 02-Feb-13 19:30:04

Ds1 was a text book sleeper.

Dd2 was a terrible sleeper with frequent ear infections and I had to give up my job as I was so exhausted.

Dd3 was just like ds1 and a dream text book baby who did exactly what you wanted.

Ds2 started sleeping well when he was 18 months old and 15 years later sleeps like a dream grin

SofaKing Sat 02-Feb-13 19:32:51

My first didn't sleep through till 8 months, second was 19 months, third was 9 months, and there are 18 months between the eldest and 25 months between the youngest.

I really struggled with sleep deprivation, especially as DH could only help with DC3 due to heavy work commitments when the oldest two were little.

I co-slept with DC3 as I felt I had no choice, he was awake 5-6 hours a night and one night I feel asleep while bf'ing him sleeping upright, which terrified me. I really wish I had done it from the beginning as it saved my sanity, we took the side off his cot and he slept there next to me and was rolled toward me for feeds and away for sleep.

You will find a way to cope, be it naps in the day during nursery or if a friend or relative will take one or both to let you rest. Mainlining coffee is also useful.

On the plus side all of mine are good sleepers now. I read research which suggested almost all children under five suffer poor sleep at some point, so on the plus side if your DC get it over with when they are newborns you won't suddenly find yourself with an unsleeping toddler and pre-schooler just when you thought it was all over.

Aethelfleda Sat 02-Feb-13 19:33:06

Yes, do get your GP to check your thyroid out. My cousin was shattered by her number 2 child and it turns out she was was hypothyroid.

I've got three and it does get easier, honest. My age gap was two years (ok) then four years (waaay easier!)

44SoStartingOver Sat 02-Feb-13 19:34:53

We clocked up three in four years. i don't consider us to be coping - we are one step ahead of disaster most of the time.

Even if you got pg now, things will look very different in 9 months. Don't let fear put you off - there are plenty of other reasons to have a single child!!!! grin

Fairylea Sat 02-Feb-13 19:36:47

This is why I have 9 YEARS between mine! Am I'm still struggling!

Seriously though I do think some people cope with lack of sleep better than others. I am not one of them.

I would never have been able to consider having another child until dd was much much older and sleeping through reliably.it would have broken me.

Ds is now 7 months old. I am older and more tired than I was with dd but there is no jealousy between them and I only have one difficult sleeper to contend with!

I'm not saying wait 9 years. But could you wait a few?

BubaMarra Sat 02-Feb-13 19:46:49

Having one child was really easy for us, no change at all. When the second one came it was a shocker. I guess this is not really something you want to hear. The second baby was not a bad sleeper, but she only slept on me so for months on end I had a lifestyle of a newborn. She was really really clingy although very sociable at the same time. I was preparing meals, cleaning, doing all the stuff with her in my arms (sling would have been better, but we just didn't manage it). I still don't know how to carry my children in my right arm because I've never done it - I had to carry them in my left arm so that I could keep doing other stuff that needed to be done. You kind of grow into that role and just keep going. After 12 months it is much much better.
The thing is, the new baby won't just miraculously appear in your home, it's going to take 9 months in which you can make all necessary adjustments to your lifestyle, routine, etc. In that time your toddler will be almost a year older which will definitely change a lot of things.

Bogeyface Sat 02-Feb-13 19:51:32

Low standards.

I have 6 and you would be amazed at the things that I dont do in a standard day! Washing is usually done at the weekend, with the washer on constantly rather than 2 or 3 loads during the week. I prefer to do jobs in bulk rather than a bit each day so once a month I make enough lunch sandwiches for everyone for the month and freeze them. Online shopping, and a cleaner if you can afford one!

And dont sweat the small stuff. The floor will not have rotted away if you have a nap instead of hoovering. The dust will still be there tomorrow..... smile

Bogeyface Sat 02-Feb-13 19:52:10

That is, 2 or 3 loads a day during the week, 3 loads a week would be heaven!

Sugarice Sat 02-Feb-13 19:52:12

I had mine 3 in 4.5 years, it will be okay I'm sure.

Relax and go for it.

When they do the thyroid levels, ask for haemoglobin and ferritin levels too.

When my twins were born, the others were four and two. The two year old had delayed motor development so wasn't walking confidently and was still physically like a baby. The first seven months passed by in a blur, so I don't remember much about it, but things do get easier.

BubaMarra Sat 02-Feb-13 19:57:27

And I actually asked myself the question from the op many many times. I was always able to push myself, but the second baby was a bigger challenge than I expected. Think that making preparations for the second baby is really important. Maybe we were a bit laid back because the first baby was that easy for us, so the second one caught us bit unprepared. Even if the second one is easy going baby it is definitely harder with a baby and a toddler than with one baby only, so good preparation is crucial (sleep and potty training, etc).

Almostfifty Sat 02-Feb-13 19:58:32

I can remember crying when I was pregnant with number four asking DH how on earth I would cope when he was away and I had the baby and the toddler awake at the same time.

It rarely happened and I managed to get our eldest to school (with his packed lunch) before the bell every single morning, with me showered and all of them dressed and breakfasted.

You cope because you have to. It just happens. Somehow.

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