While You Were (Not) Sleeping…
That thing that happens to you in the night, sometimes mornings and weekend afternoons. You go to bed, close your eyes and wake up 8 hours later with no clue what just happened. You’re no early bird but sometimes on weekends you’re up by 8am, which is positively bird-worm-catchingly early. Sometimes you have bad nights and even get up to pee once, which totally breaks up your sleep cycle, but you make up for it with two strong coffees in the morning. You once did night shifts. You understand sleep deprivation.
Now you’re pregnant and everyone keeps telling you to stock up on it as if you’ve developed some sort of slumber aggregating superpower. EYE ROLL. From your comfy chair surrounded by bump supporting snake pillows you smile. You smile because these people are silly and the baby you’ll be raising will be sleeping through by week 4. This is a
(n) alternative fact.
These books you’re reading while sunning yourself and your bump on
your last ever holiday are telling you how to keep small humans in check. One of them is called French Children Don’t Throw Food. It’s an amusing book featuring a mum who was having a hard time getting her tot to sleep until some French people told her to just let the baby cry a bit. And then she did and then it was great. The other one is called The Contented Little Baby by this former nurse Gina Ford who clearly has her shit together. This kid doesn’t stand a chance at ruling the roost. You’ve got this. There is every chance.
But in the event that you don’t, here are some
insights into your miserable future tips:
- You’re home with your new baby and it’s getting a little rough with the breastfeeding on demand and sleeping more than two hours in one go? Just embrace it. Apparently you will bond at some stage and the sore eyes, cold sweats and heart palpitations will
never ever everfeel like extensions of your happiness.
- If you’re considering expressing to give yourself a night off, remember inflated breasts the texture of poorly applied concrete. This is also useful if you’re thinking of going out for a drink. Which of course you won’t.
- That cracking sound, that thump. That’s not wood expanding with radiator heat. That’s the small human. Every noise on earth is the small human. You’ll spend some time hunched over the cot, then turn around like a ninja, getting back to your own bed with the victorious feel of a runner approaching the finish line. And then it’s right back to the starting line. You’ll do this about 67 times a night. Think of it as exercise.
- Feel free to bang doors on your way out. Nothing sets off baby sonars like parents creeping out of rooms.
- By now it’s ok to burn the copies of those books you were reading.
- There will be a time when you will spend lots of money on sleep trainers. You may have Skype calls with a structured, regimented therapist and you will be writing down lists that look like this:
Sleep training – Controlled crying log
Everyday until Day 12.
- The other therapist will belong to another category I like to call “If You’re An Inadequate Mum And You Know It, Clap Your Hands.” They’ll suggest things like “love”, speaking slowly and never saying the word “no” as key to blissful sleep. I, for instance, totally mastered the art of saying “stop throwing the sodding peas out of your plate” and “don’t blind dad with the fork” in whispers. It’s the little victories.
- Bring the small human into your bed. Just remember to start loving feet wedged into your ribs and snoring like you’ve never heard before.
- If you catch yourself dreaming of Hawaii check that you’re not actually in Morden as sleeping that deeply only happens on public transport and generally means you missed your stop 25 stops ago.
- Whatever you do don’t hope. Seriously, don’t give into that shit. That one night he slept through is not a sign of things to come. It’s their way of resetting you to think things are not that bad and to stop you giving them up for adoption.
- Consider clubbing drugs. Coffee is for people who don’t live in Kidguantanamo. You will need about 5 litres to feel a twinge of normalcy and by then you may lose your job over time spent in the loo.
- Other parents. These generally come in two sets. The ones who have
alienbabies that sleep through because they’re aliensthey repeated a routine for a week and “it really helped”, and the ones who are struggling too. You will develop a ridiculous affinity to the latter. But before you go buying them that really expensive Christmas present remember this is some sort of hostage situation syndrome and they’ll be dead to you once their kid suddenly starts sleeping and you’re left alone screaming into a pillow at 3am.
- It’s ok to trip up, drop food and red wine on the first set of parents. Eventually on the second set too.
- Do some yoga. It will do fuck all to help you but it will empty out your wallet nicely so you cannot entertain thoughts of any more
daytime robberssleep trainers.
- Follow the “nap when they nap” approach. Don’t worry if no one can find their way out of the house because of the clutter. That’s what the fire department is for and the number is on the fridge. Also don’t give it a second thought to meals. Humans can survive on Wotsits and no one has ever died from eating 10 day old lasagna leftovers (I think). If you’re at work, ask your boss where it’s convenient for you to lie down, pointing out how much room there is under your desk. Bosses love this. That is if you still have a job after all that coffee peeing.
- It’s absolutely ok to develop an eye twinge or to start telling people what you really think of them at bus stops. This is the advanced level of sleep deprivation induced awareness and it just means that everyone who sleeps is losing at life while you’re winning because you’ve achieved parenthood nirvana.
- Stay positive. Think of the money scientists will pay you someday when want they study your remarkable ability to survive on fragments of sleep for 20 years and realise that house keys should be in the fridge after all.
- Read all the lists you can find about getting your kid to sleep in 5 easy steps. Laughing is the best medicine after all.
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