It’s 9.30pm, and the girls are asleep in bed, or so I think. I sneak down the hall to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I can’t use the electric toothbrush - it might wake the three and a half year old Blonde Bombshell, so I use the ordinary one. Hmmm… better not flush the toilet – it might wake seven month old Curly Mop. I tread gingerly on the creaking floorboards back to my bedroom, where I throw myself in bed and heave a great sigh. Bedtime. Hot electric blanket. Bliss.
I read my book for a while, then roll over and turn off the light. It’s just before 10pm. I close my eyes and feel myself dropping off to sleep. It’s been a long day. Suddenly I hear cries coming from Curly Mop’s bedroom. I try not to swear as I get up, put on my dressing gown and head to her room. Despite the advice of my (very expensive) sleep consultant, it’s just easier to breastfeed the baby and put her back to sleep. I try not to tap my foot with impatience as she has a sleepy feed, dithering around on the breast. After an enormous burp, she is back in bed and asleep, I practically run back to my room and get back in bed. Damn - the bed’s cold. All that electricity wasted. I fall asleep.
I’m dreaming I am at the shops, the shelves are full of screaming babies. Why would anyone want to buy a screaming baby? Wait, there are also shelves of coughing babies. What a ridiculous shop. Why would anyone?… Hang on… My brain suddenly clicks into wake mode, as a chorus of coughs come from the Bombshell’s bedroom and cries come from Miss Curly Mop’s. I look at the clock. It’s just after midnight. I look at my husband who has snuck to bed in the past 90 minutes. He’s sleeping soundly and doesn’t seem to register the cries of his offspring. I briefly consider poking him in the face. Instead I heave myself out of bed, put on my gown and head to the Bombshell’s room. She’s sitting upright in bed, apparently asleep, but coughing her little head off. I gently lay her down and tuck her back in, amongst half a dozen stuffed toys and a couple of books. The coughing subsides. I then head down the hall to the Mop’s room where the crying has escalated. Her room is pitch black, so I gently feel around in the cot until I find her face. I poke her in the nose. The screams become indignant. Sorry Bubba. I find her mouth. No dummy. I stick it back in her mouth and the noise instantly stops. I trudge back to bed. Hubby is now spread across my side of the bed. I kick his feet back, and throw his pillow on the floor.
About three minutes later, as the bed is finally getting warm and cosy, and I feel myself drifting off to sleep, I hear the wailing start again in the Mop’s room. My stomach sinks. I don’t WANT to get up again. I lay there and start an internal monologue with her, as though we are psychically linked.
‘Please darling, go to sleep sweetie. It’s late and you need your sleep [and so does Mummy]’. The crying continues and I start begging. ‘Pleeeease Bubba, go to sleep’.
The crying subsides and then there’s a pause. I hold my breath. Is that it? Is she asleep? Five seconds pass, then ten. I allow myself a glimmer of hope.
According to my sleep angel, these tears must be ignored and I have to let Curly Mop settle herself. So, still lying in bed, I now start a conversation with the Greater Power. Soon the conversation turns to prayer, then deal-making. ‘If you make her go to sleep I promise I won’t yell at anyone for a week.’ Eventually, after about 15 minutes the sobbing stops. Instead of falling asleep, my paranoia keeps me awake until past 1am. I have convinced myself she can’t possibly be asleep. Can she?
Hubby rolls over in his sleep and starts snoring. I give him a poke in the side and he rolls back over and the noise stops. I look at the clock, and angry for still being awake, try to will myself to sleep. This sucks.
I feel myself being hauled up through layers of consciousness, until I am mostly awake and listening again to a crying baby. I resist the urge to start sobbing myself and peek at the clock. It’s 4.30am. Sigh. Because Miss Curly Mop has been unwell and totally off solid food, I realise that she’s probably hungry again. I calculate that if I feed her now I could be back in bed before 5am. As I haul her out of bed all I can do is think about being asleep, being in my bed, ahh bed, bed ahhhh sleep. Oops almost dropped her! She squeaks with surprise. My eyes are shut and my head is drooping. I start hallucinating with tiredness. There’s a reason they use sleep deprivation as a form of torture. Why can’t I have detachable breasts? I could rig them up on the side of the cot like a rabbit feeder. What a fabulous idea. I should write that down on the little notepad where I write all my night time thoughts, in a vain attempt to get them out of my head so I can go to sleep.
Finally she pulls off and starts snoring her little contented baby snores. I tuck her back in her cot and crawl back to bed. As I curl up in a little ball and feel ready to pass out, a thought pops into my brain. I need to pee. I try and ignore the thought, but there’s no known way on this planet to stop thinking about needing to pee, other than actually peeing. With tears of tiredness streaming down my face I crawl out of bed AGAIN and head to the bathroom.
Finally, I’m back in bed. It’s after 5am and I’ve had about five hours sleep in three broken chunks. No begging or bargaining or praying required, I pass out. I don’t hear the Bombshell come in at 6am and ask for milk and a tissue for her runny nose. I don’t hear Hubby get up and frogmarch the Bombshell into the family room. I don’t hear her carry on as they get ready for day care and work respectively. I don’t hear the car doors close and then open again ten seconds later, as the Bomb runs back into the house so she can do a wee. I don’t hear Hubby muttering beneath his breath as they return to the car. But I do hear that final door being banged shut and the engine start just after 7.25am. And as I feel myself waking reluctantly, I also hear Curly Mop start singing. At least someone is happy.
I need a coffee, or three. Does anyone know a way I can just set up a caffeine infusion directly into my veins? Gee that’s a great idea, I had better go write that one down too…