THE A-Z OF PARENTHOOD - S is for SLEEP (OR LACK OF)

SLEEP? I REMEMBER WHAT THAT IS...I THINK...



I vaguely remember life before children. When being a teenager was lying in bed until midday without a care in the world; recovering from the night before in a lazy haze of bliss. Actually overdosing on sleep. Regularly having 12 hours a night and feeling fresh as a daisy the next day. Those days of being fit as a fiddle, skipping out of bed and being able to think straight without your thoughts being clouded by your zombified state.

I also remember somebody on my Twitter telling me when I was 8 months pregnant to enjoy the sleep while I could. I replied saying something na├»ve like, ‘oh but the wake ups will all be worth it, I actually cannot wait for those early mornings with my little man.’

Of course they’re worth it.

But oh my wow, can I just have some sleep already please? One night I can cope with, two nights of broken sleep at a push, but EVERY SINGLE NIGHT! No! I feel like I’ve been hit over the head repeatedly with a spade. Sometimes I feel nauseous, faint and dizzy.

My two year old is fine; he’s slept through since he was five months old and now gets about 10 hours unbroken sleep each night. My seven month old is, of course, a different story.

The first night out of hospital started with ‘awwwws’ and ‘oh my gosh isn’t he so adorable’ and five hours later after zero sleep and a LOT of crying, I was also crying and pulling my hair out. The adorable and cooing and gooing had gone flying right out of the window, replaced with fits of exhausted rage.

‘Why did we do this? It was your idea! I need to sleep, I’m knackered! Go to sleep, please please.I do not remember it being this bad, surely he has to sleep at some point.’

Actually begging a newborn baby to sleep like he’d understand! I’m pretty sure I can count on two hands how many nights he’s slept through during the past seven months. He’s been on this Earth for over 200 nights and slept through for less than 14. Bags for days! I will happily admit that I am the worst people when I’m sleep deprived: I turn from this happy, bubbly ball of optimism into a raging, hormonal monster. I actually hiss and growl. I know I do it, I can’t help it, I absolutely hate it.

It’s the sleep vacuum; sucking the life out of me, taking away all of my sleep, with hair stuck to my face and rational thinking impossible. Everything is the end of the world. Of course, the bad nights are followed with typically troublesome tantrum-filled days. The simpler days are always after those rare sleep-through nights.

Now I understand why they use sleep deprivation as a torture technique. It can turn the most rational, sane person into a complete psychopath. I always laughed when people told me when I was pregnant to enjoy my sleep.

‘Oooh enjoy it while you can.’
‘You won’t sleep again until they’re 18.’

When you’ve been woken up in the night by screaming, you’ve given baba a bottle and got back into bed. You’re just drifting off and…

SCREAMS.

There it is. The screaming again. And again. And again. He’s hungry, again. He’s teething – apply more teething gel and calpol.   And there’s sunrise. And there’s my two year old shouting ‘Mama, Mama’ and here’s me, no sleep, ready to face a day of Nannie Plum, Wise Old Elf, Room on the Broom,   screams, tantrums and delirious episodes (okay, the last one is all me). Yes, being rational flies out of the window and selling a kidney on eBay for five minutes of sleep becomes almost a sensible idea.

Grandparents, I love you. I salute you for recognising when help is needed. Help is code for sleep. We need sleep. I miss sleep. I love sleep.

Hopefully baba will settle down sometime soon and begin to enjoy continuous sleeps. Here’s hoping.

Until then – sleep, I love you.

Never underestimate the value and power of a good night’s sleep. Never take it for granted. You never know when you might miss it (here’s a big clue – parenthood).

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