Shooting sheep – how not to get a good night’s sleep
It hasn’t been a good week for sleep in this house. It never is particularly good, but occasionally it’s not terrible. We’re still waiting for Rascal to ‘sleep through the night’ even once. I’m not entirely convinced that it’s ever going to happen. I’m a stupidly light sleeper. Everything wakes me. So I haven’t slept more than a couple of hours in one stretch since before I was pregnant. My husband though, comes from a long line of sleep-talking, sleep-walking, snore like an engine, heavy sleepers. It’s not unusual for him to have no recollection at all of a neighbour’s head-wrecking unce unce music party the night before. Me, I’ll have been awake until it finally ended in the early hours of the morning, probably with a bit of a domestic argument as a grand finale. He has the ability that most husbands seem to develop where he just doesn’t hear a crying baby. I’m halfway into the nursery on autopilot before my brain realises what’s happening. I sleep best in a big firm bed on my own. He laments that he can’t sleep at all when he’s alone. You can see why, perhaps, we’re not a sleep-match made in heaven. Both my husband and I suffer from restless nights and insomnia if we’re over-tired, which is almost always now. And Rascal? Well, he’s got both our genes, so he’s doomed. So, by extension, are we. At least until he moves out. This is a typical week in our house…
I don’t actually make it into my bed. Rascal is having a nightmare/panic attack while I’m brushing my teeth. He’s obviously going to be clingy for the next hour or so. I take him to the sofa bed in the spare room for the night and leave my husband to enjoy the luxury of an entire double bed to himself. Not that he appreciates it, for the aforementioned reasons.
Rascal wakes so many times that I lose count. Finally, at about 4am I give up on getting him back in the cot, and take him to the sofa bed for the remainder of the night. He’s up and ready to start his day by 6am. I’m so not.
It’s only an hour after we went to bed. Rascal is angrily demanding his milk. I top him up with the sleepy stuff, and deftly dispatch him back to his cot. He curls up, snuffling to himself as I stealthily creep out the door and back to my lovely bed, delighted with my success. There’s the husband. Sprawled across the entire bed, snuggled up on MY pillow. I stand there glaring at him in the gloomy dark, but he doesn’t magically relocate back to his side of the bed. I know he’s exhausted. As am I. If I disturb him now then I’ll have to wait while he tosses and turns his way back to sleep before I can. If I climb into his side of the bed then I can only imagine the half-awake panic when he finds someone on the wrong side of him later. I might be inadvertently dumped on the floor. So I shrug, and head to the sofa bed where I get a bit of peace before Rascal wakes up and decides it will take him two hours of rocking and singing to get him back to sleep. And I absolutely must hold all 11+ kilos of him in my arms for the duration of that time. I shuffle through the next day like a sickly zombie.
I’m clambering back into bed after yet another late night trip to settle Rascal. Just as my head touches the pillow, the far side of the bed erupts into noise. “Pew! Pew Pew! Pew Pew pew!” Followed by various explosion sound effects. “What the f***?!”, I exclaim, as I’m startled back out of the bed again. “Seriously, what the f***?????”. My husband mumbles something almost unintelligible about trying out a new pack. Adds a few more gun shooting sound effects for good measure. “Oh right,” I say, “New pack. That makes total sense. Well, um… it’s time to go to sleep again now?”. I can hear his breathing slowing down again and silence descends for a few minutes. I take note that maybe he should play less video games in the evenings. This is not an unusual kind of exchange during the night for us. Another memorable one was a few years ago when he rolled over, woke me up, told me to “f*** off, it’s sleepy time!”, rolled back to his side of the bed, and started snoring, while I lay awake calling him a number of uncomplimentary names. I could write a book on sleep-talking conversations we’ve had over the years, but he’d kill me if he found out. Suffice to say that by now, I expect strange goings-on at night. Whatever. I’m just getting comfy and drowsy when Rascal starts wailing again. I give up and decamp to the sofa bed in the spare room with a wriggly toddler. He spends the next hour rolling back and forth, wanting his own space to sleep, but periodically checking that my warm body is still where he left it. I get a couple of sleepy kisses for my troubles.
Times toddler wakes before we go to bed ourselves. 2
Times I have to settle toddler within the first hour of going to bed. 4
Times husband freaks me out by rubbing my head, thinking for some unknown reason, that it’s the toddlers head he’s rubbing. 1
Times angry wails get me out of bed, only to find that toddler is doing it in his sleep? 1
Time that we depart to sofa bed. 5am
Wake-up time. 6.45am.
Based on past experience, I’m already declaring this the best night of sleep this week.
We were doing so well. Up until we went to bed there wasn’t a peep out of Rascal. Soon enough he woke, screaming ‘no no no!’. No I don’t want to be in my cot, or no to something strange he dreamt? We’ll never know. At least he did settle back down again. A while later I just about wake in time to catch my husband furtively sneaking out the bedroom door. He claims he’s going to check the stair gate is shut. A likely story! I tell him in no uncertain terms to get back into bed right now. You can tell that my patience for potential sleep-walking mischief is limited these days. My husband’s subconscious rarely tries a nightime escapade anymore, knowing I always wake and catch him. Rascal wakes a short while later, and again at 4.30am when he informs me that his nappy has reached saturation point, and is then horrified and furious when I insist on changing it before he can have more milk. It’s hot and stuffy and uncomfortable. It takes over an hour of rocking and singing (and cursing) to get him back to sleep. Wake up time is still 7am. He’s a machine, dammit.
Another week gone, and a good night’s sleep still remains elusive. It seems Rascal likes his space (like me), but also likes a warm body nearby (like his Daddy). He regularly sits up, mid-nap, and says something random like ‘tractor!’. I desperately try and put him back in a horizontal position and snuggle him back to sleep before he fully wakes. I have the awful feeling that he’s inheriting his Daddy’s propensity for night terrors, sleep-walking, and who knows what else. I have these terrible visions of life a few years from now where I might have to drag a sleeping bag into the hallway and sleep there, ready to interrogate husband and toddler if their sleep-walking activities lead them out of their respective bedrooms. If we have any more children I’m going to be totally out-numbered by night ramblers. I may never, ever have a full nights sleep again.