A mum has urged new parents to seek help if they need it after her baby’s refusal to sleep almost ended her marriage.
Nicole Ratcliffe says the chronic tiredness when her eldest daughter Sofia was born eventually led to a situation where she and her husband “couldn’t stand each other”, Manchester Evening News reports.
Nicole says she tried everything to get Sofia to sleep at night – at one point even ringing 111 because she was worried the tot was unwell.
The exhaustion almost caused her to breakdown, the 41-year-old said.
However, having eventually received the support her family needed, Nicole began studying sleep herself.
She has now set up her own business, Baby2Sleep, in order to try and help others and prevent families experiencing the difficult nights that she experienced.
“She just wouldn’t go to sleep,” Nicole said in quotes reported by the Manchester Evening News. “I was feeding her, rocking her and singing to her; she was screaming for two hours.
“You can’t describe it – sleep deprivation is a form of torture; it completely messes with you.
“If you don’t get the right help, you can really spiral.”
Nicole, from Wythenshawe, says she was unprepared for the realities of parenthood.
“They tell you new-born babies sleep but mine didn’t at all,” she said. “Nothing was what I was told it would be.
“I was very confident that I was going to be a great mum, being extremely maternal, having read loads of books and attended antenatal classes.
“The truth is, I wasn’t prepared at all for the reality of motherhood.
“To others, I pretended everything was fine, but I was struggling with extreme sleep deprivation and my mental health was suffering.
“I was experiencing feelings of high anxiety and rage and my marriage was at breaking point. Everything was a challenge from day one.
“By the time she was four-months-old, me and my husband tried to go out for the day and we had the most awful argument.
“The sleep deprivation had got to us so much, we couldn’t cope.
“We hated each other, we really did. None of us could stand each other. I kept being labelled as an anxious mum; it wasn’t fixing the problem. We weren’t sleeping.
“When Sofia was eight-and-a-half months, someone told me about a sleep consultant. We changed her routine which helped her sleep more.
“I thought, ‘This so different’. She was happier, we were happier and we were able to start functioning again.
“You’ve got to change everything when you’re pregnant and be told that this is potentially about to happen. Babies are real, they’re not dolls.
“We need to change the whole culture to say it’s really tough and that it’s OK to ask for help. There are experts out there who want to help you.”