On the 24th of Jan 1999, Jasmine entered this world with flair. She had the ambilocal cord wrapped around her neck and needed a pat on the bottom to breathe life into her. But, once she started crying, it was unending.
She was a gorgeous baby weighing 6 pounds 3 ounces. She looked like a snuggly little monkey with scruffy jet-black hair.
She was an alert baby, and understandably, she didn’t sleep on her first night. There was so much for her to take in. But by the second night, I was shattered. Jasmine outright refused to sleep. It didn’t matter what I tried. I swaddled her, rocked her, cuddled her. She was defiant against my attempts to soothe her and adamant that neither she nor I would get any sleep.
Jasmine would sleep only in short bursts. 40 minutes of sleep was all this little girl needed to recharge her batteries and run for the next 5 hours. It was like she was allergic to sleep. Somehow, she always knew when I was starting to doze off as she would quickly wake up and cry consistently. After hours of no sleep, I was a zombie, so the midwives offered to take Jasmine away for a while so I could rest. I questioned how a tiny baby could defiantly go without sleep. The midwives told me that some babies weren’t interested in sleep as there was a whole world to discover.
Nothing changed when we came home. Jasmine decided that sleep was to be avoided at all costs. No parenting books could prepare me for the lack of sleep. I might as well have heaved the books out the window as any attempts at implementing a sleep routine was met with war, and I was on the losing side. I was gobsmacked as to how a newborn could have so much stamina. It was like a battle, and she was outlasting us.
I stayed up most nights watching home shopping with my very alert newborn until the early morning. For some god forbidden reason, home shopping was Jasmine’s favourite program. She could barely see the T.V., yet a hurricane would ensue if I tried to change the channel or turn it off. If I tried to shut my eyes, she would know and start wailing. Not wanting to watch home shopping anymore, I tried leaving a radio on next to her bassinet and leaving lavender on her pillow, but nothing worked. So, I spent night after night sitting on the sofa with my nocturnal baby.
Jasmine detested her bassinet. If she felt that she was being put down, she would cry without ceasing. Leaving Jasmine to cry it out (the extinction method) was dangerous and downright scary. She would get so worked up that she would stop breathing. I left Jasmine in her bassinet in the kitchen for only a minute. I could hear her crying while I went out to my car to unload the shopping bags, but when I returned, my baby had stopped breathing and had turned blue in the face.
For 2 years, Jasmine didn’t sleep. I was so depleted and exhausted physically and mentally that I got every virus and cold going around. I started doing baby swimming classes, hoping this would tire her out, but not our Jasmine. I also tried an aerobic water class for mothers, and staff organized a childcare room for the children. I was in the water for a short time until I heard my child screaming. A staff member came running out with a hysterical Jasmine in her arms. The poor lady had tears streaming down her face and was distraught by the ordeal.
I eventually took her to the Doctor, thinking that it might be detrimental to her health if she wasn’t getting good sleep. However, after examining Jasmine, the G.P. found she was in excellent health. I begged for an explanation. How could a baby function without sleep? The G.P. went on to tell me that some babies find sleep boring and don’t require or want a lot of rest. They would rather be awake learning about the world.
I couldn’t ask for help from outside family as Jasmine would scream the house down and stop breathing if someone else tried to hold and cuddle her. She would only let her father and I pick her up.
Now 23 years later, I look back at my baby, who has morphed into a young woman right before my eyes. Where has the time gone? I miss the baby but love the woman she has become. In hindsight, there are a few things I wish I had known back then. First, I wouldn’t feel pressure to complete all my housework. No matter what, there will always be a new mess. I would be more present and simply spend time with my baby because nothing lasts forever. While parenting books are insightful. There’s no one right way to raise a child. Don’t fight against your baby because of a book. Do what works for you and your child. Be Intune and flow with your baby. Only you know your child.