Why is it that during the darkness we lose our patience and sense of humour? Our babes can be challenging to get to sleep during the day, but even if you’ve had hardly any sleep at all the night before, you can always understand why and have patience. You can rock them and sing to them for as long as they need. As soon as it’s dark however, it’s a different story.
Your pride and joy becomes annoying, pulling you from the warmth of your bed for the umpteenth time. That crying is actually moaning, and flip, it’s so annoying! Go back to sleep child! There is nothing you need. Why are you doing this to me? I’ve been awake since 4.45am this morning, on the go all day, and now I finally get to bed and rest for all of 1 hour and you begin your wailing. Why? It sounds dramatic, and in the cold light of day, pretty mean, yet I and I’m sure some of you, have had these thoughts. I know Cat & Nat below certainly have…
My little one isn’t so little anymore. She’s almost 16 months. She’s just recently started to sleep through the night (hallelujah!) and prior to that if she woke she’d generally have some milk or a cuddle and go straight back to sleep, so I’d be up for no more than 30 minutes at a time. Now it’s a different story. Now she won’t go back to sleep. We’ve stopped breastfeeding so that’s a game changer. I don’t have that magic sleep inducing act in my arsenal anymore. Now I’m absolutely winging it.
Some nights I’m up constantly for 2-3 hours with her. Non stop. Cuddling her, rocking her. I change her nappy, I give her some water, I try everything to make her happy. I sit down with her in my arm chair because flip, I’m shattered and would love to just rest for 10 minutes, and she can feel the arm of the chair with her feet or hands. “Mother, what are you doing? This isn’t rocking me properly, up you get……oooh is that a cushion? What’s that light?” And so up I get. I put her in the carrier, sure she’ll fall asleep, but some nights it’s like a shit battle of who can stay awake the longest, and let me tell you, my kid is stubborn. She sits there all wide eyed, whilst I’m squinting trying my hardest to keep my eyes open. Each time she looks up at me, or gives me side eye, I try to quickly close my eyes to fool her that I’m sleeping and maybe she will get the hint. It doesn’t work.
Some nights she likes to play a different game. Her bedroom is upstairs and mine is downstairs. Some nights she will cry so I schlep upstairs and see to her, calm and soothe her and place her so very carefully back in her cot. I then creep from her room like a ninja and race downstairs back to the warmth of my bed. Whilst I’m doing this and internally high-fiving myself, she likes to listen out and as soon as she hears the familiar “whoosh” of my head hitting the pillow she’ll let out her song. I give her a few seconds because surely she’s actually fine, and maybe she’s crying in her sleep, or I imagined the noise, but no, she ramps up the volume so up I get. I fumble about for my dressing gown and slippers, trip over my clothes from the day before (or is it still the same day?) and schlep back upstairs. This goes on and on.
Sometimes though, she likes to wait an extra 10 minutes from the initial “whoosh” so I can smile to myself and think I’d nailed it. I let the warmth of my bed creep into my limbs and begin to drift back to sleep. Then she likes to wake me from that mid state between awake and asleep, where you’ve no clue what time/day or year it is, or where you are, with her wail. During these moments I have to be honest, I suffer sleep rage, where I am so tempted to just turn off the monitor and pull the duvet over my head. I fantasize about when I was able to sleep uninterrupted all night long, and how I could lay in bed until after 7am….heck until after 9am if I really wanted! But alas, those are distant memories and I’m a mama, so up I get. Grab my dressing gown, trip over my husband’s shoes and ricochet off the door frame. Can he not just put them away?! And I schlep up the stairs for the 50th time that night, silently swearing to myself and go to sort her out. Again. It’s like Groundhog Day.
I sometimes have to check myself and remind myself that she’s just a baby. A baby who’s teething, or growing, or whose brain is working in brand new ways. Ways which she’s never experienced before and that’s scary for her. She needs a cuddle and some reassurance, and some nights she wants to party for a couple of hours because she can’t seem to switch off. I have to remind myself that she’s not waking as an act of defiance, and that by rocking and soothing her I’m not creating bad habits. That one day she won’t want me to come to her in the night and that I’ll battle to shoehorn her from her bed in the mornings.