If you are reading this through puffy, sleep deprived eyes whilst drinking your third coffee of the day in a bid to stay awake, then let me start with this: one day, hopefully not too far from now, your child WILL sleep through the night.
In the meantime, I want to reassure you that you are so so so not the only one pacing the kitchen at 3.30am, trying everything in your arsenal to soothe your baby back to sleep at the same time as trying not to WEEP that another night is slowly ticking into morning, with both you and your baby awake.
The thing about sleep is we need it, preferably in eight hour chunks, to function.
And the thing about babies is that it takes them a while to figure that out.
In the meantime, you’re right there beside them as they decide that midnight is made for snacking, and 4am is time to get all the toys out and make some noise.
So that’s hard.
But when you add teething into that mix…well, in my case I went from not enough sleep to sleeping barely at all for longer than an hour or two at a time. When things were really bad, Minnie was waking up every half hour.
Lots of babies find sleep tricky. In our case, Minnie was a restless sleeper from the get go.
It took us ages to work out that she had wind and digestive issues and was actually in pain.
But then the teething kicked in. Very unusually, by the age of three months she had three teeth (most babies don’t have any until six months). And I give a hollow laugh when I look back and remembering thinking that her early teeth were actually a good thing because it meant we were ahead of the game. Little did I know – which probably WAS a good thing as who knows if I would have coped – that she would still be teething at the age of three!
Which, just to break it down, meant three years of extremely broken nights for me.
And that, in turn, meant that although I initially came up with the idea for Matchstick Monkey when Minnie was teeny tiny, I was far too exhausted to do anything about it until recently. In fact I was in such a state of perpetual exhaustion that it was hard to do pretty much anything apart from the basic looking after of my baby.
Oh the long nights I spent trying to soothe Minnie’s teething pain. I remember trying to rub Bonjela on the side of her gums, and her instinctively biting down really hard; if you imagine three tiny razors clamping down on your finger that’s about the size of it. I started visualizing a long, flexible and baby-mouth-friendly brush come chew, to take the place of my poor, raw, savaged finger.
In the meantime, I tried everything. Teething powder, teething rings, teething biscuits – you name it, I tried it.
Anyway, back to the happy news, which is this: my life changed beyond all recognition when I started sleeping again. I had so much more patience and was able to enjoy my time with my girls rather than ‘getting through’ it with my eyes propped open with matchsticks. Oh, and I started making my dream of Matchstick Monkey a reality.
Coco had teething issues, but they – thankfully – didn’t hit her so badly at night. And, after the dust had settled a bit I slowly started to have enough energy to develop my idea. And having Matchstick Monkey samples to offer Coco in her hour of teething need really helped and gradually my life got a whole lot better.
Things aren’t perfect by the way. Minnie still wakes up once or twice a night. But a couple of weeks ago - at the age of nearly four - she slept through the night. And that was when I knew for sure that all phases do come to an end.
But this particular phase would have ended so much earlier for me if Matchstick Monkey had been there fighting my corner.
And although I want to remind you that this too shall pass. May I also suggest that having Matchstick Monkey beside your babies cot might make it pass a lot quicker.
That is all!