Though she be but little, she is fierce.

Baby sleep problems

In the dead, lonely hollow of midnight, my baby girl is screaming.

She is feverish and blistered, baking in my arms. I pace and rock and shush…but still the screams come. She has been awake for hours, will be for hours more. At fourteen months, the nights she wakes and cries still outnumber the nights she sleeps through soundly.

It is hard. For me, the hardest part of everyday parenting. Harder than toddler tantrums. Harder than painstakingly homemade meals that end up shared between the floor and the bin. Harder than the bitter disappointment of failed breastfeeding. I admit I have shouted. Begged her to stop. Mumbled swear words under my breath.

My boy was never like this. He cried, yes. He still does. But never like this, for this long, this loudly, this desperately, this inconsolably. Β He has meltdowns that take time to subside but they doΒ subside. IΒ am a comfort to him.

Sometimes, it feels like I live inside the shrill purple shriek of my daughter’s cry.

In the bleak corners of the night, that cry threatens to overwhelm me. It blacks out all other thoughts, obscures all but the despairing, consuming need to make it stop.

There have been many such nights since she arrived. She was born crying, shrieking, before she and I were even separate entities. She screamed every single night, from afternoon until bedtime, for the first five months of her life. Slowly, surely she has improved; colic and reflux have diminished. But when she cries, it is if her life depends on it, it is with every fibre of her being, with every gasp of breath she has. She cries like crying is what she was made for.

I know I could never harm her. I still know, deep in the pit of my stomach, that I love her. But it is easy to forget, when I’m living inside those cries, that she is my heart, my soul, the joint axis of my reason for being.

It is easy to forget that she is fiercely bright, full of throaty giggles, agile and quick in wit and action. It is easy to forget the way she imitates reading, book spread on her lap, making noises that sound like quacks and clicks and shushes as she pretends.

It is easy to forget the way she rubs the backs of soft toys, seeking to comfort them, the way we comfort her. When she falls asleep on the rug after we have been shopping, a rainbow of flowers against teal, she is perfection.

When she is calm and peaceful and happy, happy just to be with me, she brings me more joy than I could ever have conceived, before she and her brother arrived. She watches and follows him all the time. When he enters a room, she smiles. I see her love for him, already, and it makes my soul sing.

This night was unusual because we were all alone, she and I. Her Daddy and brother had gone away for the weekend for Granny’s birthday party, and she, poor mite, had to stay home, as the chicken pox started just as we were all due to leave.

During the day, she had not been so poorly. We played with paints. Dressed in her brother’s dinosaur onesie, she daubed the bright colours all over herself and the paper, squealing and da-ing with delight as she discovered she could make marks by herself.

I was delighted by her company, admired the little person that she is becoming – I went to bed happy and content after a day well-spent.

But in the long, lonely night, I forgot. I forgot to focus on the millions of things that I adore about her, because the screams were all I knew, all I could focus on.

And I am so sorry, my little bean – so sorry I cannot always be the perfect mummy, the one you need, on those wretched nights that never seem to end. But I am only human, and we cannot be perfect. Even at our bravest, strongest, most worthwhile, we are flawed. But we can be bright and brilliant and clever and fierce, like you. Fierce in our loves, fierce in our courage, fierce in our intolerance of unfairness and injustice and unkindness, as I hope you will become, as I can already see you starting to be.

And so, my smallest bean, my advice for you is this:

Grow big. Cry less. Sleep more and find comfort. And always, always, stay fierce.


“And though she be but little, she is fierce.” Β – Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act III, Scene ii

Though she be but little, she is fierce



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47 thoughts on “Though she be but little, she is fierce.

    1. Thank you. I think it’s important to talk about so that new mums know that it does happen and it’s ok to feel that way sometimes!

  1. Oh I can imagine how difficult it must have been to be alone when she’s like this. We do feel helpless when this happens, don’t we? And nothing we can do seems to help, but cuddle them till the moment passes, even if it takes the whole night.

  2. Oh beautiful! We all have times where we are sat alone in the middle of the night with a screaming child and I know how hard it is too keep calm and not ‘lose it’. I too have shouted, sworn under my breath and prayed for Mia to stop whatever it is she is doing but it goes and you are only human! It sounds like you have had a tough time but I’m sure your a fab mummy! πŸ™‚


  3. This is lovely, I love your writing style. It’s so hard when they’re crying and crying, and won’t stop. I know that I have had to leave the room a few times for my own sanity. I hope that things improve for you soon. Claire X #bigpinklink. PS love the shiny new blog.

    1. Thank you! Really hoping tonight is better as full of cold and have work tomorrow. Thanks about the blog too πŸ™‚

  4. I can really relate to this. There is nothing harder than sleep deprivation, and those times in the middle of the night when your child just won’t stop crying are just the hardest to deal with – you feel so lonely, so alienated, and you’re spot on – it’s difficult to remember all the lovely and amazing things in that moment. I really hope things improve for you soon.

  5. Oh I know this well! My son was the same. We discovered at 12 months(!) that he was lactose intolerant and actually was in discomfort. That did not make the guilt I already had for getting so frustrated I could have, (probably would have done if I hadn’t been so worried already of waking big girl!), screamed at him to shut up on those dark, lonely soul destroying hours! It does get better, although still at 3 he is less settled then my daughter. I promise there is light at the ed of the tunnel. Oh, and that you are absolutely deff not alone! Thanks so much for linking up with the #bigpinklink

    1. Thank you. It is tough but we have to just keep going, hoping there will be light at the end of the tunnel one day, I guess!

  6. I love that quote and the picture of little one asleep on the rug is gorgeous. It is so hard when they cry all night, it can be so hard to think about all the good things and just focus on how I horrible and difficult it is right now when they’re screaming. I hope she starts sleeping better for you soon xx #anythinggoes

  7. oh my gosh that is just beautiful, completely and utterly beautiful. You describe those tear filled nights so perfectly and brought a tear to my eye. hope she’s feeling better soon.

    1. Yeah my lg is on medication for reflux still so she has a lot of trouble. She is much more herself today thank you! x

  8. Oh no, I hope her chicken pox is subsiding. Don’t beat yourself up its difficult in the haze of no sleep to think logically. I hope she starts to settle easier and makes it through the night more. It sounds like she is flourishing with you as parents. x

  9. Beautiful post. She sounds a lot like my lg! We thought we knew what we were getting into from our experience with her brother, but nothing could prepare us for months and months of brutal sleep deprivation – the despair, the losing of self, the slow erosion of the belief that it must pass eventually. She is my heart and I wouldn’t change her for anything, but this is the hardest thing I’ve done. Thank you for writing your experience and reaching out a hand through the fog of exhaustion!
    Here’s hoping for peaceful nights ahead for you all, and a quick recovery for your sweet spark of a girl x

  10. This is so well written. It’s so difficult when they cry like that and nothing works. Don’t be too hard on yourself. She’s gorgeous by the way! #bigpinklink

  11. This sounds very much like my youngest so I can really relate to this post. She had colic and reflux and it was a struggle to placate her at times. There is nothing worse than sleep deprivation, it makes it all so much harder. Hope things pick up soon and remember, no Mummy is perfect xx

  12. Bless you! I just want to hug you, we went through a stage of a few months where our youngest screamed during the night and boy it was tough. He doesn’t sleep much now as he has additional needs but when he used to wake and cry was by far the hardest. I really do feel for you. xx

  13. Bless you, it can be so tough. I can’t stand to hear my son cry it breaks my heart when I just can’t console him.

  14. I empathise. I had a screamer, I used to feel like I was pushing an ambulance around sometimes. Your reference to purple shrieks make me think of my daughters face when she had a scream up. It went purple and blotchy. In fact the first time, we thought she had sunburn and almost took her to A&E (twits!). After that we called it a purple. I know exactly how you feel. #kcacols

  15. Awww bless you both, I do not yet have kids but I remember my sister when she was little she used to cry alot and I ended up crying with her. It’s not easy but you’re there that’s all we can ask for.

  16. Hi, back again from #KCACOLS. Still loving that sleepy picture! Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS. Hope to see you again next Sunday xx

  17. That’s so beautiful. & I hope her chicken pox is better. She sounds quite a lot like my youngest. She’s 18 months and she has settled down to mostly sleeping through alone in the past 2 months, but she was more difficult than her sister, and is still more likely to fuss and scream. Before recently, she would only sleep with me, or she would scream and scream, and she woke a lot. She doesn’t settle herself as well as her sister – she wants someone to come to her. She’s willful and when she screams she really screams. But like your little one, she is also extremely bright, very funny, very capable, very caring. I always wondered if her clingyness & night waking were her way of demanding attention and time just for herself because she has always had her sister there. #KCACOLS

  18. What a lovely post Danielle. Love that quote too. I feel very sorry as I know how hard being a parent is, especially when we our kids are not well. Chicken pox is horrible. They really suffered. I’m glad both my girls already had it. Both my girls have been difficult but the second is really clingy and she just cries a lot if I’m not giving her my full attention. She will be 19 months soon but she is in the middle of a big separation anxiety phase and I’m finding it very hard. Lots of times I feel exactly they way you feel and how you have described it here. And you are right we are only humans. I wish my daughter can understand that too. Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS. I would love to see you again on Sunday! πŸ™‚ x

  19. Coping with crying – real crying – is SO tough. It’s torture. A great read – you’re certainly not alone! Flicking away silent hot frustrated tears whilst robotically singing twinkle twinkle was my crying party trick. The rhythm kept me sane. Lots of love, Secret Mumma x

  20. Hang in there, mama. And know that the fruits of your tenacity, patience, and love will, many years from now, be evident to you when your precious girl is truly the woman whose personality calls for her to be fierce. I promise. My little baby grew to be a strong woman we all admire, but it took 35 years. God bless.

  21. I so hear what you are saying especially the bits about the crying. It’s hard but try with no stimulants in bed and a drink of warm milk before. Time them to go bed trogether. If she’d in a separate room so much better. If not, discontinue chatinng

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