The baby slept through the night for the FIRST time ever.
For eight hours straight, I did not have to get up and feed, change, or cuddle a baby.
I did not have to make a drink, find a dummy, sing, shush, walk, rock or explain to anyone that it was SLEEP time. So the next day I woke up refreshed and washed and dried my hair. I did six loads of washing, put clean clothes away in the actual wardrobe, made spaceships out of cereal boxes, got out of the house with two little ones in five minutes flat, went to the shop for milk and remembered to get the milk, did not swear or burst into tears once and cooked a delicious family dinner from scratch. I finally got to become the perfect mum I always knew I could be – if only I wasn’t always so tired.
I would go on to tell you how I didn’t need to bribe my children with biscuits or let them watch Cbeebies all morning, but it would NOT be true.
I had fantasised about it for a long time. The baby finally sleeping for an entire night and writing a celebratory article about how goods it feels not to be exhausted! But I cannot do that.
Here is why: The Night My Baby Actually Went the F**k To Sleep
It is 10.30pm. I have just got into bed but as my youngest daughter is due to unleash her nightly, You Think You Are Going To Bed To Sleep Mummy? Think Again…scream, there doesn’t seem much point closing my eyes just yet.
11pm: I wish she would hurry up and get it over with so I can sleep. It should be any minute now…
11.30pm: Still not awake. I think I’ll go and check on her.
She is asleep. Who knows, maybe tonight she will….
Dare I even think it?
Is she is finally going to… ….sleep through the night?
If she sleeps all night I could get at least six hours. OH MY GOD, the things I could do on six hours sleep! Maybe I’ll drive to the park farm, do a big shop, meet friends for coffee, I could even hoover under the settee. I should write a things-to-do list…right now. Or… I could actually sleep.
12am: I can’t bloody sleep. There is only one thing for it – consult Google. How do you sleep when your baby is actually asleep? and Can adults be sleep trained?
She is still asleep. I should share my news with the people of Facebook.
THE BABY HAS BEEN ASLEEP FOR FOUR HOURS FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!
I really better try to get some sleep now. I think I need a wee. I can’t sleep if I need a wee. Go for a wee.
Do I need a wee again?
12.30am: The baby has STILL not woken up. I am STILL wide-awake. I may as well check Facebook. No doubt I have a few congratulatory comments on my latest status! Five notifications!
Go the fuck to sleep then.
Yet you are awake, you dick.
Oh please post another picture of your baby ‘finally asleep’?
Stop banging on about it and go to bed.
If you are tired tomorrow we do NOT want to hear about it.
I hate Facebook.
Ok, now to seriously get some sleep.
1.30am. So it seems I can’t sleep on the one night the baby is actually bloody asleep. I should get up. I know this. The worst thing you can do when you can’t sleep is to stay in bed not sleeping. But I am too tired.
1.45am: I really need to stop looking at the clock.
I’ll just have a quick check on the baby. She is still fast asleep. Could she be in some kind of coma?
Maybe I should wake her up. But…then she’ll be awake. And I’m so tired.
“Wake up,” I nudge James the Husband. “WAKE UP. It’s the baby.”
“What?” he groans sleepily.
“Oh ok, ok, I’ll get her.”
“No, she is ASLEEP.”
“You woke me up to tell me the baby is asleep?”
“No. I mean she has been asleep all night.”
“What?” He is as perplexed as I am. He leaps out of bed and heads for the baby’s room.
“She is fine. Just sleeping.” He tells me on his return.
“I know that but why?”
“I am guessing – but this is just a wild guess – that she is tired,” he says, getting back into bed. “Goodnight.”
“Do you think I should I call NHS Direct?”
“JAMES!” He is asleep already.
2am: My body is exhausted but my mind is not. My mind is a dick.
What if this is it? The corner we have been waiting to turn for so long.
What if there are no more night-wakings, no more babies stealing our bed, no more twilight lullabies?
No more being woken up by a toddler climbing on my head at 2am, or pulling my hair or kicking me in the ribs.
No more renditions of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at 4am.
What if last night was the last time I would lie with a baby on my chest listening to her breathing and feeling her heart beating along with my own?
The last time I would be woken up by a child kissing my face.
The last time I would be needed for midnight cuddles and reassurance.
What if it was the last time and I didn’t cherish it?
After three years and two sleep thieves I can’t actually remember how it feels NOT to be needed in the night. My entire life as a mother has revolved around trying to get babies to sleep, trying to get some sleep and attempting to look after babies and myself on barely any sleep. So, what now?
I have blamed sleep-deprivation for my shortcomings as a parent for so many years. If I am no longer exhausted will I be able to step up to the mark? Will I be on time for everything, go to all the play groups and make home-cooked meals every night? Will I start doing arts and crafts? Will I have matching socks again? Will I go out with friends at night? Get more work? Finish writing my book?
What if I can’t do these things? What if this is just who I am? Maybe I am simply the kind of parent who would rather tell fairy stories than make fairy cakes.
What if I am better at making up silly songs than making paper mache castles? What if I still get stressed out when the girls won’t get ready and we are running late? Or sometimes cry with frustration when it all gets too much?
What if I am just too lazy to go out at night?
And above all – what the hell will I write about?!
I really should go to sleep now.
The good news is I did go to sleep. But that bad news is that it is THREE BLOODY AM! After all these years have I lost the ability to sleep through the night?
I better check on the baby. She is still asleep.
3.15am: I have wanted this for so long so why can’t I SLEEP?
4am: Gone are my plans for tomorrow. I’ll be too tired for plans.
5am: My mind is finally exhausted and I feel sleep engulf me like a warm hug from an old friend.
6am: “MUMMY!!!!” (I bet you saw that coming!)
So there you have it. I am not celebrating just yet.
There is another reason why I can’t write that article. A vital component in my quest for sleep. The baby has NOT slept through since.
We have not quite reached the light at the end of the tunnel of tiredness but I am starting to see a glimmer of sunshine.
At 21-months-old she may not be sleeping through the night but her wakings are becoming less frequent. Bedtimes are not quite as much of a battle and occasionally we even have an evening to ourselves!
She still ends up in our bed almost every night but I am ok with that. Because one day soon it could be the very last time she does.
So how DO you sleep when the baby actually bloody sleeps?
Check out my new book that contains no baby sleep advice whatsoever… Just lots of laughs and tips on surviving the sleepless nights from someone who has been there!
Sleep Is For The Weak: How To Survive When Your Baby Won’t Go The FzZk To Sleep at book shops or on Amazon now!!