What more blissful experience does life offer than snuggling in bed with your warm and slumberous children? Heaven.
Unless you intend to sleep, that is. They are programmed never to let that happen. They will spin. They will kick. And they will fail to give a shit where the head-end is.
Our baby’s teething the hard way this week. She’s all dribble and tears and give me that knuckle now, please.
Every half hour through the night I wake to find her gnawing on her fist and grunting and snorting like a pig. She’s really going through it, poor thing.
She’s soon knocked back out with some breastmilk in bed though, which I guess is pretty lucky. Only problem is, I drop off too before I’ve had chance to reunite her with her basket.
And when she’s in our bed, my sleep quality is unsurpassable in its shitness.
For one, I’m somehow still conscious enough to wake up if a digit twitches or her breathing gets one per cent shallower.
And two, I have no choice but to maintain a catatonic side pose that might stop me doing a deadly roll onto the baby but cranks up my hip pain by five rungs to that night back in Jan ’94 when I slept on my brother’s hard floor at art college with neither camping mat nor sleeping bag and woke up with sick in my hair and arthritis all over.
To make things worse, the older one’s been having bad dreams and won’t stay in her room.
I am so tired right now that the walls are wobbling and I hallucinate loud noises as I’m falling asleep (hypnagogic bangs, apparently, or Exploding Head Syndrome if you prefer).
I know it’s not just me. All across the land, parents are tormented nightly by thoughtless minors who assume they get by on biscuits and Fruit Shoot fumes alone. But here’s my last night in case yours wasn’t bad enough for you:
6pm Fall asleep in error while feeding teethy grizzler lying down.
8.30pm Wake up confused and dry-mouthed. Remember what year it is and that I should never get supine before bedtime.
8.32pm Check older one’s room and find her in bed with tights and shoes on, having fallen asleep when we did. Fuck shit bollocks. She’ll never make it till morning now…
8.33pm Allow tiredness to morph into fury.
8.34pm Direct fury at partner for failing to wake older child and keep her up till bedtime, despite three attempts on his part to do so.
8.35pm Quarantine self in living room and commence silent private rage.
9.02pm Retrieve tiny one from cot and address crying with breastmilk. Return to basket.
9.31pm Apologise for rage.
9.33pm Luxuriate in some rare leisure time on sofa while the daddy is out and both children are asleep (I know).
9.50pm Decide to sketch domestic items using new big girl artists’ pens then realise drawings are rubbish because I have been too lazy to turn the big light on.
10.07pm Ingest a shot of some weird raspberry gin left over from Christmas, just because I can.
10.22pm Clean teeth to get rid of foul taste.
12.03pm Go to bed knowing the bigger one is gonna wake up at 2am having enjoyed a full night’s sleep.
12.45am Wake to whimpering sounds. Look in cot to be greeted by desperate help-me face. Feed.
12.51am Fall asleep
1.14am Wake and feed
1.24am Fall asleep
1.47am Wake and feed
1.52am Fall asleep
2.12am Wake and feed
2.16am Fall asleep
2.17am Wake to cries of ‘Mummy!’ Escort bigger one to toilet. Advise that hand-washing is not required because…erm… it’s the middle of the night…? Watch while she washes her hands thoroughly, following World Health Organisation guidelines to the letter. Wait in child’s bedroom while she resists sleep for as long as possible.
2.23am Go back into bedroom to feed tiny one, who is crying again, more loudly this time. Apply Dentinox and eventually reclaim finger from gummy power-vice.
2.31am Fall asleep
2.41pm Wake to soothing sound of snoring. Ask James politely to roll onto his side. When he doesn’t oblige within seconds, kick him hard in the calves and try and turn him myself while tutting. Curse.
2.58am Wake to sound of footsteps and shadowy figure of sorry-looking child in doorway. Give in to her bad dreams and invite her into bed on condition that she remain stationary. Budge up, go back to sleep.
3.12am Wake up cold because wriggling older child has kicked covers down to waist level and it’s snowing outside. Notice hips are killing me. Try to relieve pain by adopting a tentative foetal position, pending objection from bedmates.
3.15am Resume plank position as baby protests against foetal knee-raising by kicking tiny legs down hard on my thighs and grunting angrily.
3.28am Wake to tooth-based whimpering. Feed.
3.31am Wake to find children have arranged their bodies in a quarter-past-seven configuration, with the ‘long hand’ applying firm pressure to Dad’s temples with her feet. Spin long hand’s legs through 90 degrees and exhale dramatically to share burden of exasperation with anyone who’s listening (no one). Feed short hand.
3.47am Wake to wetness. Brave ice-cold living room to change nappy, followed by older child. Refuse request for chocolate spread on toast for breakfast, which I’m told is now.
4.06am Finally coax older child back into bed and put tiny sleeping one down in cot.
4.12am Wake to whimpering. Feed in bed. Fall asleep.
4.17am Almost topple off edge of bed. Swear under breath. Swear at full voice. Move to spare room.
4.22am Slide across to make space for bigger one, who has been tailing us again. Forbid bigger one from singing Everybody Lineup from Bubble Guppies in little one’s face.
4.33am Wake to sound of Everybody Lineup from Bubble Guppies and little one crying. Feed.
4.51am Wake from 43rd weird dream of night to find big one staring at me and asking what would happen if a human ate a crane.
4.53am5.06am Fail to deliver coherent answer.
5.06am Give up, get up, hello world!
And I wonder why I’m such a bad person after 4pm.
How about you? How did you sleep last night ?