I fear writing the following sentence for fear of jinxing myself, but, here goes. Theodore’s sleeping has improved slightly. Knock on wood. Find a four-leaf clover. Oh look, a rabbit’s foot. Oh my word, a horseshoe, even.
Yes, now nearing our seventh month of one-, two-, or three-hourly wake ups overnight — it appears we have a slight reprieve. On a good night, I am only attending to Theo three times. On a normal night, four or five times. ‘What? That is absurd!’ Yes, I hear you. That is a bad night to 99 per cent of the population. Well … check this out my friend, and then perhaps you’ll understand my excitement. And also, welcome to my life for the last seven months. Feeling a bit better about your own now, aren’t you?
It’s 10 p.m., and I’ve been in to his room once. He nearly always wakes at 11.30 p.m., too, then around 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. for a breastfeed, and then somewhere in the vicinity of 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. (which I count as a morning wake-up). And that is a fairly good night, with lots of sleep for this mama.
I’m not going to start a wrap-up of his sleeping habits (“The last seven months have seen me…”) but I will reflect a little on it. I’ve lain prostrate on the nursery floor with one arm crooked up through the cot bars so my hand can pat his bum and I can softly hiss a shussshhhh shussshhhh to him, with tears streaming down my face out of sheer exhaustion. I’ve sat in the armchair softly singing ‘Mummy’s here, darling, it’s okay, Mummy’s here’ for endless minutes. I’ve tip-toed to the doorway thousands upon thousands of times. I’ve fist pumped upon noticing he is sleeping. I’ve rocked, jiggled and swished my baby. I’ve patted his bum and brought up burps, while moving in figures of eight. I’ve sobbed lying on the floor. I’ve picked him up and laid him back down, picked him up and laid him back down, picked him up and laid him back down, as he was practising his developmental leaps of crawling, standing, squatting and kneeling. I’ve replaced the dummy as many times as he’s taken breaths, I reckon. I’ve lost my patience and had to leave his room. I’ve turned off his white noise, turned off the monitor, picked up my baby, felt him scoot down a bit, crook his head and nuzzle into my shoulder and let out a little sigh of contentment, oh so many times. And my heart melts, every one of them. I’ve snuggled my child in close, left his room and walked us down the hallway to mine so he can join me in bed, and every time with a smile pulling at my lips because I love it so. I have cried more tears than I can remember. I’ve said, “Okay, Theo, you win” on more than a few nights. I’ve slept on his nursery floor as I got more sleep than pounding the hallway 10-12 times a night. I’ve slept on the couch for the same reason. I’ve asked my husband to go to the spare bed, or the couch, multiple times, so I can bring Theodore in to bed with me. I’ve stood in the middle of the nursery not daring to make a noise, or breathe loudly, taking one step every 10 seconds towards the door. I’ve learnt to navigate my way around the creaking part of the floor in front of the wardrobe. I’ve kicked the wooden trolley in the dark. I’ve gotten to the doorway, hand on doorknob, smile on my face celebrating my victory, to only hear him croak out a cry before I can step through the frame. On three occasions, each forever marked in my mind, I’ve raised my voice and shouted at him to JUST SLEEP. I’ve fallen asleep on the couch in the middle of the day. I’ve neglected friendships. I’ve deliberately stayed home all day as I was too exhausted to do anything. I’ve forgotten appointments. I’ve smiled and said, “No, not really”, every time I’m asked if Theo is a good sleeper. I have cuddled, soothed and loved on my child every hour throughout the night, from dusk ’til dawn. We’ve sat quietly and listened to the moreporks at 2:17 a.m., 11.23 p.m. and 5.09 a.m. at some point or another. I’ve contentedly fed my child, looked down at this face and stroked his head, every night for the last ten months and three weeks. I have been so tired, I’ve picked arguments, I’ve sobbed in the shower, I’ve spent endless, endless hours researching baby sleep patterns and habits, and I’ve developed a new theory for this wakefulness every single week. I’ve stopped eating dairy, I’ve reduced naps, increased naps, woken him from naps, not woken him from naps, increased solids, increased breastfeeds, given him bonjela, pamol and chamomile powder.
But, through it all, despite it all, because of it all … I have decided to wait it out.