Now if you’ve come here for wisdom or useful pearls of advice on getting your baby to sleep better, please let me set you straight. There are various books, websites and forums dedicated to that and they are written by experts. This post is none of those. It is a far less useful musing on what it’s like trying to return yourself to sleep in the daytime when your little one has cruelly robbed you of zs the night before.
So if you’re still here, at least it’s not on false pretences. Right then. Today, following yet another appalling night’s sleep due to a baby full of cold, I am about to do that thing I never ever do: sleep when the baby sleeps. You know, it’s that thing that all the advice tells you to do and which usually makes you smirk when suggested because all you can think of is your endless, sisyphean task list for that day. In my case this usually is reason enough to abandon returning to sleep. But worse than that: I’m a crap sleeper anyway. In the military, my brother taught himself to sleep standing up, anywhere, anytime. Consider me the opposite. To be fair, if I put on a film or TV show I’ve been really looking forward to for a long time, give me twelve minutes and I’ll be sparko on the sofa and miss the whole thing; any time I actually wish to drift off it can be aeons before I do, even if conditions are perfect. Then I’m awoken again if a butterfly sneezes outside; if a spider stubs his toe. I’m useless. So even if I were frivolously to abandon my task list there’s scant chance it would be worth it.
But today, I argue, it will be worth it. That’s how bad my cumulative tiredness has become. As a result, my decision to go back to bed has now taken on an air of decadence, it has a seductive aura of ‘me time’ .
‘It’s going to be so awesome’, I think. ‘All this...sleep.’ And I keep fantasising about post-sleep-me later on today, how fresh, tingly and zen-like I’m going to feel. Outwardly I’ll look glowing and my skin peachy and I’ll be smiling, smiling, probably to the point of being quite punchable but I won’t care. God it’s exciting.
It’s approaching nine-thirty AM. I’m just waiting for Daughter in her cot to nod off/sod off (sorry, Daughter, but most of this is your doing). And there it is: silence. She has stopped making noises. No time to lose. Since the kids’ bedroom has blackout blinds it is the most cocoon-like, so I head there. As quietly as possible I set out the bedclothes on the sofa bed, snuggle down and prepare my equipment for procedure. Eyemask-lower: check. Earplugs - yes, the gross silicone ones that make your head feel squeakily airtight: in they squidge, thuk, thuk….. check. Optimal prostrate body position: check.
Come on sleep, you bastard. I’m ready.
And then what was excitement starts to turn to slight nervousness since the next bit is beyond my control. As I lie there in the blackness, wrists and palms to the ceiling, taunting sleep to come and wash over me - come on, come on - it almost feels like I’m waiting for one of the horsemen of the apocalypse to come and take me. I’m certainly knackered, I’ve done all the right things to prepare, but still this cruel, mystical state may come, or it may not. Like with death/life, when casually doled out by the flick of the emperor’s thumb in the colosseum, none of it is in my power any more.
So. I lie here, at first studying those weird shapes swirling on the insides of my eyelids, like watching a lava lamp or a crap nineties screensaver. Then I kind of fall beyond that to deep black nothingness where it feels like I’m in a flotation tank: I’m letting go but still present. Dammit, still present. Thoughts about various things start to fizz to the front of my mind but I try to let them fall away. Begone, you bastards. As if it might change things, I shuffle and change positions.
Still bloody present.
After this comes two potential endings. I’ll let you figure out which is more likely. It shouldn’t be hard.
I realise I’m a bit hot and sticky, or Daughter is crying, or both. I feel a bit woozy and unsure of what has just happened. As I think, though, I also realise I have just had a dream. My body feels light and happy, my head clear. Yes, I think. Yesss. Come here, Daughter, come here, rest-of-day. Let’s do this.
I realise I’m a bit hot and sticky, or Daughter is crying, or both.
Or, even better: the horrible intercom-buzzer is warbling:
Is it mine or downstairs? I take my earplugs out and the sound is magnified through the whole flat. I get up feeling mildly less achy than before but the aches slowly start to seep back in. It felt like a lifetime I was lying down but when I look at my phone, it was about forty minutes. No dreams. Turns out I had just got bored and I was, the entire time, present.
Once the delivery man has scuttled away, terrified, I head towards the coffee beans and all that they can do for me. Trying to suppress the urge to moan inevitably to myself about time wasted, I grab my pen and pad.
Best start writing blog post #22, then.
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