Night times are both my most precious and most hated times as a parent so far. They are times of overflowing emotions, both good and bad, times when I wonder what I might have done to bring me such joy or such frustration and resentment. Everything is multiplied when the sun has gone to bed.
Chublet has not been the easiest of girls to get into good sleep habits. We have had two stays at our local sleep school and we can still count on one hand the number of nights she has not needed our attention once we have gone to bed. At present we are in a fairly good space where she goes to sleep easily when first put to bed and generally only wakes once or twice during the night with a quick feed or resettle needed before going back to sleep.
It is these nights, especially after a run of such nights, where I sneak into her bedroom prior to going to bed and look in wonder at her peaceful countenance. These are the nights where I am filled with love and joy as I see her sleeping in an identical pose to that which B or I often take – lying on our sides with one hand tucked under our head. These are the nights when I ask what I did that gave me such a blessing as this little bundle of energy and delight. These are the nights I try to remember when everything falls to pieces.
And when things fall to pieces they do so spectacularly. These are the nights where she wakes often and for long stretches. Nights where I spend more time sitting or lying on the floor beside her cot than I do in my own bed. Nights where I fall asleep in the rocking chair while she sits awake, in my arms, running through her latest vocab. Nights where I try to decide if a dose of pain killers will help (and debate how often I’ve fed her medicine in her life) or if she just doesn’t want to sleep. These are the nights where I resent everything. I resent the overnight feed as she holds me hostage – refusing to give in to sleep until I feed her, regardless of how early she wakes in the evening. I resent my husband for not being able to do more, I resent Chublet for screaming the house down if B tries to settle her rather than me. I resent that I once again have to try and function on less than 5 hours of broken sleep, and I resent having a child who at 16 months old, still has regular nights like this.
The bad nights are the nights when I most doubt myself; have I caused her to have bad sleep habits by continuing to feed her overnight, by cuddling her when she’s beside herself, by sleeping beside her cot when she just seems to need it, by bringing her into bed with us when we all need to sleep. I question how often we resort to painkillers in the hope that it is teething pain causing the unsettledness and that medicine will help. I get angry at B for choosing methods other than those taught at sleep school, but then am incredibly thankful that they work and that he’s stepped up and made a decision. The bad nights are the ones where every choice I make seems wrong, and I am often wracked with indecision.
I would love to say that the good nights outweigh the bad. But the truth is I remember the bad far more readily than the good, and a single bad night seems to delete an entire week of good nights. I am trying to remind myself of the good nights, trying to remember the nights where I am overflowing with love for my sleeping child, trying to remind myself that the bad nights will not last and will soon be no more than a (painful) memory. On the good nights I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, on the bad nights I wait for the oncoming train.