23:56 Wednesday night. I didn’t know how to make it 12 hour time. 23:56 is what the computer said it was, so that was the time. 23:56 and I was awake. Wide awake because The Lass hadn’t cried out. She almost did on two occasions earlier that evening. The first time I think she was just coughing, I don’t know, but I went in to see, and she was back asleep before I entered the room. I stood there for a few minutes staring listlessly, waiting for a cry that never came. The second time was a definite grumble, but again she was asleep by the time I was in the room. Again I stood there.
My brain was expecting her to have woken at least once by now. Sometime between 9:30 and midnight my ears expected to hear a sob, my legs expected to walk over to her cot and my arms expect to scoop her up and take her in to The Mamanator.
But last weekend I had done something different. WIth no need for an early rise for work instead of giving her to her mother, I walked her up and down the house, singing a simple song I had for her over and over again:
“The Lass she wants her mu-u-my.
The Lass she wants her mu-u-my.
The Lass she wants her mu-u-my!
And I guess that’s fair enough
The Lass she has her da-a-ady
The Lass she has her da-a-dy
The Lass she has her da-a-dy
So I guess life ain’t that tough
*I would change the conjoining phrase each verse with words such as: However, although, notwithstanding that, in spite of that, given that, on the other hand…. It got a shade tedious after the first couple of runs.
It took a lot of time, especially on Friday and Saturday. It took a lot of tears; hers and mine. It took a lot of sanity; mostly mine. But she settled, I set her in her bed and she slept.
And on Wednesday night, like the nights before, I was left unsummoned and unable to switch off the nagging alarm in my head and go to sleep. Part of my mind was setting off a little alarm bell, telling me not to settle into bed because that has traditionally been my daughter’s cue to start grizzling. I have been un-sleep-trained, you see, now I need to un-un-sleep-train myself. It will take time.
Strange though it seems, I missed the ritual stagger from bed to cot to fetch her.
We had always expected to be a super co-sleeping, hippy dippy, demand-breast-feeding attachment parents (who still vaccinated). But after nearly 2 years of sleep torture, a range of different approaches offered from sleep schools, maternal child health nurses and others that simply were not working for us.
So we made a change, a sustainable one for us, by turning off the tap. It has worked (so far), but I still can’t make myself sleep before midnight. I keep waiting for her to wake up.
I remember the first time The Lad kept me awake. He was new, fresh, raw and so tiny, our first baby. I’d just sit and listen to him breath for ages as he slept. It wasn’t a relaxed look at my angel sleeping in his cot experience. It was a “WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE YOUR NEXT BREATH MY GOD YOU’RE GOING TO DIE” experience, I didn’t know that babies didn’t breath with the regular rhythm of adult folks. It took time for me to get over that.
I remember when he slept I’d wake up at night-time, expecting him to have woken only to find he hadn’t, and I was just being restless. The same thoughts flashed into my head “I CAN’T HEAR HIM SOMETHING’S HAPPENED ARGGGGH!!!!”. It took time for me to get over that.
And it will take time to get over this… It makes me think of Shawshank Redemption:
I miss things. My eldest child is only 3 and a half, and already I miss things. I miss rocking my boy to sleep, he’s too heavy now. And, if I can confess something to you, he doesn’t need it any more. I miss the songs we used to sing together that he no longer enjoys. I miss the way he used to say “Ock-kopter” for helicopter. I miss the tiny cloths he used to wear. I even miss some of the time on the change table cleaning up poo. In a strange way I do. It represented a kind of reliance, a connection between child and parent. Connections that are severed faster than new ones are made as they grow.
And her, she’s only 1. I miss the way she used to say “Mummy Peppa Pig” when we read that annoying book someone else bought for her that she no longer reads. Hell I miss the book, even though it irked me. I miss the way she could only count to 3 (she can get to 10 now), and I miss how she’d always ask me to sing “Intsy spiiiiider” over and over again, the way she lengthened spiiiiiiider had been irresistibly cute.
Turns out I miss how she’d rouse me every night as soon as my head hit the pillow.
What kind of nervous wreck will I be when they go to school? Spend the night at a friends house? Go on school camp? Will I ever be able to cope with either of them moving out?
Then again I got used to wake up calls between 9 and 11pm. Getting un-used to them must be possible, right?
I pretend there are moments of equilibrium in parenting. There are not, just a constant stream of adjustments. And just when you get used to it, it changes on you again.
Still. Sleep sounds pretty good right now, maybe I’ll give it another go. Wish me luck, fellow travellers.
And treasure what you have. You never know what you’ll miss.