Scary stories from a lovely place
Everyone likes to sleep. Even people who don’t like sleeping in still like to sleep. I first experienced a love and appreciation of sleep when I worked as a carer for a disabled boy when I was still at varsity. I used to work night shift – 10:30pm until 8am. It was torture. The lovely little boy was asleep until about 5am and so those hours were spent cleaning a spotless house, turning a sleeping boy and covertly reading or napping whenever I could. From 5am it was mayhem – dressing, toiletting, feeding, nappy changing. Trying to feed a boy who has a delayed swallow reflex so at real risk of choking on every bite of pureed cereal while you’ve had zero sleep is a difficult task. But then once the shift was over, sleep could come. Except I often had to go to uni and then bible study. Driving home after not sleeping for 36 hours and working and listening to lectures and explaining the bible is difficult. Reactions are seriously delayed. But at least I had the option to sleep. Now sleep is down the list of priorities.
On my current level of broken sleep I am feeling this all too acutely. I long to see the drooping of Silas’ eyelids and beg for them to close all the way for a few minutes, then five, then ten, then twenty, then six hours.
At the moment I am trying to get him to sleep from 6pm to 2am. If that works I will try and get him to sleep from 7pm to 4am. Then I could sleep from 10pm to 4am. That would be bliss. Even now when I go to bed at 10pm and I am awoken at 2am I am celebrating. If I am awoken at midnight I am a little less excited. A midnight feed means I will probably also get up at 4am. And 4am is not yet the start of the new day.
It feels crazy to get excited about sleeping from 10pm to 2am. Pre-Silas I never would have felt that way. I would have raged and cursed the cause of my wakefulness – noisy neighbours, a fight with Stephen or the call of the bathroom. Now I am nocturnal. My day’s have become so short. They are the same as Silas’ and exist in 4 or so hourly increments. But as an adult it’s hard to do stuff in that time. Silas doesn’t need to cook or read or knit or write a substandard blog post. If he sees friends it’s not rude for him to sleep during the conversation. His list of tasks consists of kicking wildly, grunting, being bathed and read to, and staring manically out the window.
Sleep is the goal of the new parent. Before anyone asks me if Silas is eating and growing well, learning to control his head or focus his eyes, smiling or talking they ask if he is sleeping well. It’s as if the most lauded state a baby can achieve is that of temporary coma, the deeper and longer the better. And that’s because the people who ask these questions are generally parents and know the taunt of sleepless nights and days. Right now Silas is at a stage where it’s totally normal for him to be sleeping in short periods. It must be so hard for people who have older babies, toddlers or children even who don’t sleep much. What do they say to the “is he sleeping through the night” question? It’s just mean to expect little people to do exactly what we would hope they do. And to make tired parents feel worse that their kid likes to wake up during the night.
At least when Silas wakes up all night he is still cute. He smiles a lot, and though I try and not react when I am trying to get him to go back to sleep, it makes the night sky, the cold floor and tired eyes worth it. And then the sun comes up and everything feels better.