The 5 Stages Of Grief Every Mom Goes Through Upon Realizing Her Baby Is A Sh*tty Sleeper

by Glynis Ratcliffe
Originally Published: 
baby is a bad sleeper
Lisa5201 / iStock

From the moment a baby is born, once fingers and toes and general good health have been accounted for, the one thing pretty much every mom is praying for is that her baby is a good sleeper. Like, soon. Obviously not the first night, or even the first few weeks, but as soon as possible, basically. Nobody can blame a mom for wanting this, either, because sleep is so key to being able to function in, you know, life.

My first kid was the shittiest of shitty sleepers. Let me rephrase that: She started out being a great sleeper, sleeping through the night at five or six weeks. But then she started dropping off the growth chart and coming perilously close to failure to thrive, so I was forced to wake her up every two hours through the night to breastfeed her. So she basically learned how to be a shitty sleeper thanks to me. Awesome! Long past the point when I had to be waking her up every two hours, she continued to do so. And if I didn’t go to her right away, she cried until she threw up. Again, awesome. It was a tough go for nearly two years.

Is your baby starting to look like they’ll be a shitty sleeper too? Here are the 5 stages of grief that every mom goes through when she finally realizes her baby may be a shitty sleeper. What stage are you in?

1. Denial

This is something that usually happens after the first few weeks, but because denial is a powerful way of coping, this may be the longest stage you endure. After all, it has to get better eventually, right? It always gets better. You’re sure it’ll get better. You’ve heard that a lot of babies settle into a routine at this point, but there are also a million reasons why they might not have settled into that routine: You have a hungry baby who’s growing fast! You nurse on demand! It’s a sleep regression! People are big fat liars! Okay, maybe you have a slight problem…

2. Anger

The anger can set in anytime between as young as a few weeks and as late as 6 months of age. You finally realize that this is what you’re in for, and it’s not going away anytime soon.

And let me tell you, there’s one overwhelming thought that passes through your mind, every time some other parent you’re supposed to be friends with starts mentioning how their baby slept through the night at 6 weeks: It’s. Not. Fucking. Fair.

You hate those parents. You even hate your own parents, who can’t for the life of them figure out why their grandchild is having such problems with sleeping when you were such a goddamn angel baby. You find yourself giving that Baby Whisperer book the finger, every time you pass it.

3. Bargaining

This may be the point when you either hire a sleep doula or give in to all your friends telling you to embrace Ferber. You’ll do anything for a good night’s sleep, even torture your baby! Haha, just kidding! I wanted to throw that in there to see if you were still reading.

On the flip side, this may be the time you finally give in and just let the baby into your damn bed so you don’t have to keep getting up. That’s certainly when it happened to me.

“Oh, it’ll only be for a few weeks until we get through this cold/teething/sleep regression!”


4. Depression

Somewhere around 5 to 6 months in, you realize that the amount of sleep you get every night, thanks to your baby, is not changing (for a while, at least). This fucking sucks, you guys. You are either stuck re-Ferberizing your kid every time they have a sleep regression, catch a cold, or cut a tooth, or else you assume you’re basically never going to have sex with your husband again because there’s constantly a baby in your goddamn room. (And it’s not like you’d stay awake long enough for that shit, anyway.) Things are dire, and there seems to be no way out.

5. Acceptance

At some point, you’re just going to give up (hey, that can be seen as “acceptance” too). You’ll start drinking an extra cup of coffee in the mornings, and you’ll embrace dozing off during your favorite shows because it is what it is and you need to get through it somehow.

And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to talk yourself into seeing the long game. This baby isn’t going to be the shitty sleeper forever. In fact, give it five years, and your baby may be able to sleep through the most epic of storms, in a tent, in the forest. Instead of taking close to 90 minutes to fall asleep the way they used to, your kid may pass out cold the moment the light turns out.

But if you can’t see the long game, at least there’s another cup of coffee ready to be made in the morning…and the afternoon.


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