Sleep, as we all know, becomes a source of obsession when you have kids – how long did they go between feeds, how long did you get, how long did your husband get, why was your sleep the worst, why do you win at who is the most tired. It’s such a long and boring story – except to you, who could happily reel off feed times and times of nappy changes to the delivery man – that I’m not even going to touch on the long nights. The good ones (where they go four hours between feeds and the toddler miraculously times her wake-ups with the baby’s) and the bad (the nights which are a never-ending black hole and need to be written off as quickly as possible) are all a mundane blur which I’m not going to start on now. I’ve made my peace with lack of sleep, and I’ve found once you stop fighting it, it becomes a lot easier. I would say they all sleep eventually, but my oldest, at three, isn’t going to let me write that with any authenticity yet.
What does still obsess me though, is lie-ins. Those things that my husband and I treat each other to at the weekend, when for one day of the weekend I set the alarm optimistically for 9am. Great, right! Well, no. I’m not sure when a lie-in went from a normal part of life to an instrument of torture, but it was probably around the time our nocturnal angel made her appearance into the world. This is roughly how my lie-in goes:
- 5.20am. I lay awake listening to Pearl wiggle around in her cot, chanting nonsense and whinging a bit – not loudly enough to disturb the three year old clasped, octupus-like, around me, and no way near noisy enough to wake my husband, of course.
- 6am. I will listen to this serenade until my self-imposed 6am deadline – not sure why I bother with this – when I rise and feed her, before going back in to wake my husband so he can take her downstairs so I can begin my ‘lie-in’ – unfortunately, this process takes a while and usually disturbs our oldest who can’t believe we have the affront to be making noise in our bedroom and is devastated I managed to sneak away without her noticing.
- 6.30am. By the time she’s calmed down and I’m clasped back in her possessive little arms it’s half 6 and I’m ready to get up, but I force myself back to sleep, something I’ve never found easy even at the point of sheer exhaustion.
- By 7.15 I’ve cracked it – precious sleep – by which point Dory is stroking my hair gently and whispering she needs a poo in my ear – seriously, the love and affection I get from this child is off the scale. When we’ve done that, dropped her off downstairs in front of the TV with her sister and her daddy, attempted to avoid Pearl’s eye and failed, I get to run up the stairs with her pitiable screaming behind me, and dive back under the duvet.
- 7.45am. Back in bed! Except it’s freezing, I can still hear Pearl screaming and I’m wide awake and craving a cup of tea. By this point, it would be ridiculous to attempt sleep again and I don’t know why I still do, every single time, as by the time I manage it it’s at least 8.30am.
- 8.50am. Wake up and check how long I’ve got left. Fall easily back into a soundless sleep when I see there’s still 600 seconds to go.
- 9am. The alarm finally goes and it’s awful, worse than the worst hangover. The awake state, which had felt so acceptable a full three hours earlier, now comes complete with a splitting headache with which I drag myself back downstairs, traumatised and broken from my rest, but ultimately relieved it’s, at last, over.
- 9.15am. Am expected to be full of the joys of spring as I got to lie in until 9am. Fail, weekly.
Still counting down the days until the next one, though.