Alex was the best sleeper as a newborn. Until he was about 6 months old, all he did was sleep. We have only recently cut out his lunchtime nap and as a result he now sleeps from around 5:30pm until 7ish the following morning. He never wakes during the night. Alex is the baby that makes you want another one (which is probably why Emma came along 17 months later!)
And then we got Emma. The child who appears to be allergic to sleep. As a newborn she would never sleep for more than 20 minutes at any given time. She was always awake. It is very hard to go from the child who always sleeps, to the child who wakes every bloody hour at night. And is still doing it at 2 and a half years old. Why did no one tell me that Emma would never sleep?! I think if I had been told when she was born that she would still be waking so frequently at night, I would have sent her back.
But it is amazing what you get used to. With that being said, I really would love just one night of uninterrupted sleep. Emma’s horrendous sleep pattern has just become our norm and I think not a lot of our friends and family really know just how bad it is. I was talking to a family member a few weeks ago and she just couldn’t believe it. She wondered how we were coping and honestly, cosleeping has been my saviour. Whilst I’m awake 492 times a night, I’m not actually wide awake and I think if I had to get out of bed things would be a lot worse.
Our typical evening goes something like this:
Getting Ready for Bed – 18:30 – 19:15
Our evening starts off with me praying to all that is good and holy that they will be asleep quickly. When it takes me 10 minutes just to get them upstairs, I know that my chances of this being a pain-free experience are dwindling. We do all the regular activities you do when you are putting kids to bed. 400 trips to the toilet, a bath, 4 arguments over what books we will read. Alex asking for more food (he loves a turnaround – a slice of bread with peanut butter folded in half – before bed). One more drink of milk. There is some bouncing on the bed and a discussion as to whether or not there are monsters. All of this is peppered with Emma asking for the yellow boobie over and very clearly displaying signs of exhaustion. We give a 5 minute warning that the lights are going off and they both get comfy and we tuck them in.
Going To Sleep – 19:15 – 20:15
Once the lights are off, Emma appears to get a new lease on life. Michael and I lie with them both until they go to sleep, so there are the 4 of us in the bed together. It all starts out well as Emma is delighted that she is finally getting the “yummy milk”. This lasts about 2 minutes and in this time Alex has fallen asleep. Emma then feels it is a life or death situation and she MUST hang off the edge of the bed – all the while she is still attached to the boob. I have realised that the worst thing I can do is engage with her in any shape or form so I just bring her legs back into the bed. She settles for a minute or two and then starts kicking the blankets off. She will sit up in the bed and start bouncing and she will try to kick Alex. She will play peekaboo and she will play hide and seek. Emma does all of this as she is still having her precious yellow boobie. This could go on for up to an hour most nights before she will eventually fall asleep.
Before I go to Bed – 20:15 – 22:30
Some nights, I don’t get out of bed and go back downstairs because Emma is so unsettled the minute I move away from her. Have you seen the video of the woman sliding out the door trying not to wake the baby? That is exactly what it is like when trying to get away from Emma. It is like she has this 6th sense that I am not in the room. I try snuggling her and Alex together in the hope that she doesn’t realise I am not in the bed. Usually I am up and down the stairs 2 or 3 times as she hollers at the top of her lungs “MOOOOOMMMMMYYY! YELLOW BOOBIE!!”
My bedtime – 07:00
Some nights I am very lucky and Emma will sleep until 2 or 3 am but usually she hears me coming up the stairs and is sitting up waiting for me. I really wish she would just sleep but when I get into bed she puts her two tiny hands on my cheeks and kisses me. She tells me she loves me and snuggles her tiny little body next to mine and has her beloved boob. I all asleep between Alex and Emma and I genuinely feel like my heart might burst with love.
Sometime later in the night I’m woken to Emma kicking the blankets off of us all and screaming about how she doesn’t want them. Then she wants the boob (this is constant with every waking she has). She might decide it’s time to start playing, or that Alex needs to get up. Emma is currently teething so often we are woken up to a request for a new nappy as her bum is sore or to hysterical screaming that might last for 5 or 10 minutes. There is literally a list of reasons as long as your arm as to why Emma might wake up at night. When we ask her why is awake her answer “I can’t mummy, I just can’t”. I don’t even know what that means. She has just the most angelic little face when she shrugs her shoulders and carries on with her business.
I know that this too shall pass but I have this feeling that we won’t be getting her out of our bed any time soon and the hope of a full night’s sleep may be a very distant dream. What I have learnt is that it is really common for toddlers to be frequent wakers and it’s good for us to ask about it so that we, as parents, don’t lose our minds from sleep deprivation or insanity by thinking we are doing something wrong.
Please join in and let me know that I am not on my own with a toddler who is allergic to sleep!