The advantages and rewards of having your kids almost on top of each other are vast! I could wax lyrical on how wonderful and fulfilling it is, how the sleepless nights and the overflow of dirty bottles and diapers bring such joy to a home that looks like the aftermath of Hurricane Hannah (quite literally). BUT – that is a blog for another day.
Today, I want to let off some steam, I want to rattle some sleep deprived mothers’ cages, I want to get my and your blood pumping, as I write about a topic that sends the heart odometer into overdrive..
WHAT DOES SLEEP LIKE A BABY MEAN? WHO CAME UP WITH THIS RIDICULOUS PHRASE? AND WHERE ARE THEY SO I CAN PUT THEM OVER MY KNEE AND SPANK THEM FOR TELLING FIBS. I’m guessing it was a man, a single man, a man with no children, a man with no wife to hit him over the head for saying something so ludicrous.
I want to state categorically at this point that I love Liam. He is the light of my life, the sugar to my coffee, the “L”to my “O.V.E”, my first born, my everything. However, there comes a point in the middle of the night, when you are standing in his room for the third time in two hours, asking the dear Lord WHY WHY WHY He didnt give Liam to some other mother in the hospital that day! Liam was born a bad sleeper. My mother used to say things like “don’t worry, when he starts eating solids, he’ll sleep through,” then it was “when he starts crawling and getting active, he’ll be so exhausted, he’ll sleep through,” and now he is two and all I get is “ag shame, some babies are just bad sleepers!”
I had tried every product, read every book, consulted Dr Google on a daily basis, hoping that someone out there had found a miracle cure. Oh yes, there were hundreds, thousands of mothers complaining about the same problem, offerings all sorts of advice, but no one was willing to offer a full money back guarantee on their advice. I was at the end of my tether, and of course, dad was good for everything else, but Liam only wanted mama at night. I knew nothing was wrong with him physically, I had taken him to doctors, we had run tests, we had tried drugs! He didn’t cry, he just couldn’t sleep for longer than 3 hours without waking!
When I fell pregnant with Hannah, my biggest concern was how I was going to cope with two babies who didn’t want to sleep at night. Miraculously, and really it was a miracle, Hannah started sleeping through the night from about four months. I did nothing different, I used the exact same sleep time routine for both, they listened to the same sad lullabies, often sung with a tremor because I seriously felt like I wanted to cry every night I endured this sleepless torture – there was no difference, yet Hannah slept all night. Liam continued to wake at least twice, and sometimes up to four times for ..well.. nothing! He’d call out, I’d go scuttling to his room, quick as a thief in the night, praying that his shouts wouldn’t wake Hannah across the passage. He’d smile and ask for “milky,” I’d reach out for the bottle which was positioned RIGHT next to his head for his easy access, he’d turn over and go back to sleep and I’d stand there wanting to pull my hair out. Other nights, he’d call out, I’d do the thief-in-the-night thing again, I’d try to lay down next to him in sheer exhaustion, and he’d kick me off the bed, so I’d make for the door, and he’d scream, and I’d think to myself “what do you want boy, for me to just stand in the middle of the room watching over you?”
When Liam started school at 18 months, his teacher gave me a piece of invaluable advice. Advice, I initially just brushed over. However, during one of our sleepless night tangos, I really pondered over this remarkable statement. Wait for it.. You are either born a good sleeper or a bad sleeper (anticlimax?). If you fall into the latter category, there’s nothing you can do to change it unfortunately. No amount of “crying it out”, no amount of Aterax (research it!) will work, and in some cases prayer doesn’t help either – although God has now taken pity on me FINALLY. I digress.. when I realised the value of this statement and truly understood it, I was able to let go of the frustration, I was able to deal with my son who really just wanted to know mama was there, my beautiful boy who had to give up his babyhood to make way for his sister. I was able to get up, go to Liam and calmly hand over the bottle which was literally 0.5cm away from his face (!!), and wait to see that he was alright, and calmly walk back to our room, with a quick stop to check on Hannah snoring softly in her room. When I let go of the frustration, the tiredness seems to disappear too; what I once saw as a grudge-task, became part of the routine and I learned to accept that this was my lot and that Liam would probably be a teenager who would wake me up for a glass of milk and a midnight chat.
I would love to give you a happy ending.. but NO.. Liam at 2 years old still gets up at night. He does however, surprise us ever so often and sleeps a full nine hours, and on those nights, I still find myself doing the midnight tango alone, just to make sure he is ok.
Love you baby xxx