Regardless of whether you’re a parent or not, throughout our adult life most of us think about sleep as much as possible. Getting that extra 5 minutes in bed in the morning can feel like the difference between actually making it through the day or falling asleep on the person next to you on the train.
As parents-to-be, the people around you become experts in everything parenting, whether they’ve been through it or not. “You definitely don’t want to bottle feed”, “that’s really going to hurt”, but the absolute crowd favourite is “well, say goodbye to sleep”. The annoying thing about that last statement is the crowd are right. Your baby bursts into your life, and sleep gets up, throws up two fingers and slams the door behind it not to be seen for a long time. So you spend the 9+ months of pregnancy making a weird effort to “stock up” on sleep – like that’s a thing, or attempting some early mornings to acclimatise to life as the parent to a newborn.
We experienced the usual scenario of Ivy waking up up every 3-4 times a night in the earlier days to be fed and changed. But as time moved on it became apparent she actually loved a good sleep, regularly sleeping from 7 at night through til way past 7am. Now unless you want to experience the sharp pain of a dagger stare in your forehead, or the awkwardness of a sarcastic smile, this isn’t something you brag about amongst other parents. In fact, it’s something you keep as a little secret to enjoy, like the expensive chocolate at the back of the cupboard. But for a large portion of Ivy’s life, as long as she hasn’t been ill or having an ‘off night’, we’ve all slept well.
But in every happy story, there’s usually a dark plot twist. Bedtime to Ivy, now apparently looks like hell. By the wailing noises made at bedtime, the closing of her bedroom door can only be likened to a jail door closing on an inmate in solitary confinement serving a life term. Like a sucker punch to the back of the head, we are now spending an hour getting her to sleep and every other hour up and down, soothing her throughout the night. In fact as I sit here and write this, we’ve been up all night and at 4:45 and I have admitted defeat. I’ve put her on my side of the bed and I’ve got up to make a groggy start to my day, that will no doubt be filled with coffee laced with small drops of my salty tears (too dramatic?!)
The hardest thing to deal with the lack of sleep this time round, is the answer to ‘Why?’ is not so clear. We have a good routine of bath, book, bed to see us into Ivy’s bed time. And despite Ivy’s large yawns, rubbing of the eyes and genuine statements of “I’m tired” not a lot of ease seems to be coming to the night time routine. We seem to be dealing with the world’s youngest negotiator – she’ll throw in the hungry card, or the “I need a drink” card, both of which as a decent parent you cannot ignore. Only to take her downstairs and realise you’ve been taken for a fool and all she wanted to do was play with her toys.
There were many things as a parent-to-be that we said we’d never do, like allow Ivy to become obsessed with Peppa Pig, or watch the iPad or eat chocolate. But for an easier life, we’ve caved on all three, and now our house is riddled with the sounds and snorts of the Peppa Pig family, she can now navigate the Netflix app, and she now knows her favourit chocolate is Ferrero Rocher, what the hell happened?! However, one thing I would like to try and avoid is co-sleeping. I understand why some parents do it, but I also understand why people would not. So what I am determined to do in this new nightmare of sleepless nights, is at least keep our bed as our own and Ivy’s as hers. Let’s see if in a weeks time I’m sleeping on the floor.