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FamilyLife: Sleep deprivation is now in the past; New Mum.

Byline: By Alison Handley

HOW do they do it?

How do babies suddenly learn to sleep through the night?

Just a few weeks ago - 15 to be precise - when we brought Eleanor Elizabeth home from hospital, the very idea seemed a million sleepless nights away.

At one point she was waking every two hours and after a 40-minute feed and a five-minute nappy change (assuming, of course, she didn't need completely new nightwear for reasons best left to the imagination), that meant little more than an hour's shut-eye for mummy before the next persistent wake-up call.

Just as I was drifting into the deepest sleep, I'd be rudely awakened and stumble, bleary-eyed, from my warm bed to Ellie's Moses basket.

A momentary pause to locate my glasses or pull on my slippers (surprisingly difficult when you're suffering from severe sleep deprivation), and those little cries which sounded, well, like a tiny baby during the day would reach a rising crescendo more akin to a whole nursery at 3am.

And then it happened . . . . .

I woke in the early hours as usual to the sound of... silence!

A brief catnap and I was roused again as my husband tossed and turned.

Another quick peek into the Moses basket - one still soundly sleeping baby.

Why is she still asleep?

Shouldn't she be hungry?

Should I wake her?

Thankfully, even at 4am I had my wits about me enough to decide that our priority - both mine and hers - was sleep.

I woke with a start when the alarm went off at 7am. Confusion, for a moment, then panic... what on earth had happened?

Then a little whimper, Eleanor Elizabeth was finally stirring.

A squeal, a cry, a full blown wail: "I've given you a full night's sleep, the least you could do is bring my breakfast."

And so we've come to the end of those early morning assignations, just my daughter and me snuggled up together as the world slept on.

Ellie's been sleeping through for some time now. Once she'd got the hang of it, for her it was no big deal.

For me, it's been a realisation that my daughter really is growing up.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:May 9, 2006
Words:362
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