In my house those sleep stealers are all three children and occasionally the husband, often when intoxicated or snoring or even both! In the latter stages of pregnancy every parent attempts to spook you with, “Oh, those sleepless nights, there yet to come”. To which my response as a heavily pregnant and blissfully unaware woman was,”Well I visit the loo 20 times a night or spend half the night up with heartburn, so I think I’ll be ok”.
Oh how wrong was I! It’s absolutely nothing like going for a wee in the middle of the night and climbing back into bed knowing you are about to fall back to sleep. Or even waking up during the night with awful heartburn, swigging on some Gaviscon (always next to my bed when pregnant) and feeling slightly sick with the taste of aniseed but still going back to sleep.
My first experience of stolen sleep was a shock to us both. However I had experienced three nights in hospital before going home to share this wondrous experience with the other half, so for him it came as an even bigger shock on our first night at home. I still recall him pacing the bedroom floor in the early hours of the 25th January 2009, shouting “This can’t be right, something is wrong with her, we need to take her back to hospital”. He was in complete an utter disbelief that she didn’t require much sleep, and even after feeding, winding and changing she would still cry.
Unfortunately for us, our first-born had colic, so the first three months could have involved a lot more sleep had we have been a bit more clued up. Why is it that they still send new parents home from hospital without the frigging manual! I mean for goodness sake you get through a whole pregnancy with every book about what to expect each week, if not you Google the shit out of what is happening to your body! So why is this not the same with a newborn? Even a baby born doll comes with some sort of instructions these days and they cry, wee and poop. WTF?
At first I felt almost outraged, that you start the whole parenthood thingy off being so knackered, because the nights running up to labour you don’t sleep as you think every bit of dispersed urine is your waters breaking, and every twitch is a contraction. Then labour itself first time round is often horrendously long, and you kinda need to be awake for some of it. Then you stupidly lose some more sleep staring at what a beautiful baby you have created and birthed.Utter amazeballs and knackering any which ever way that happens.
So first lesson learnt, and then the next, just as shocking lesson is that the little buggers don’t give you a night off, or just one night so you can catch up, recharge in order to be able to function like a rational human being! It can be months before a fluke one-off nights sleep occurs and usually its met with blind panic because you’re not even sure if they are still alive. Then for a few nights after you try and recreate everything you did the day before and you then left stumped as to why that didn’t make them sleep through the night again.
Its it wind, its it teething? Is it what I ate yesterday? Were they too hot or cold? Perhaps they preferred sleeping on their side, should I tilt the cot? Every morning after an awful night you repeatedly ask your self these questions and sometimes even convince yourself you have the answer. But actually we are all just as bloody clueless as each other. When someone says their child sleeps like a dream with some weird sheep? Is it the sheep? Is it fuck. They are just lucky they went home with the baby that sleeps! In my experience its rare! And for the record, I secretly hate these super human parents with their alien babies.