I’m composing this entry entirely in my head as both hands are currently occupied trying to rock The Baby to sleep. I’ve been doing this for the last 32 minutes.
I find being a Mum is a constant battle between being yourself and feeling guilty about being yourself. For example:
Being yourself – “god just go to fucking sleep already!”
Feeling guilty about being yourself – “I need more patience, he’s just a baby, he’s tired and can’t get to sleep.”
For anyone with a baby/toddler who has to do the sleep routine at 2am I bow down to you! For whatever reason (angels I think) The Baby has slept through the night since he was 6 weeks old. I do accept some credit for this as I was a total Milk Nazi for the first 2 months of his life. I would wait down to the minute before giving him his bottle. The looks I would get from other people as my son is screaming at me, red faced, arms flailing were as though I’d just punched him in the face. (To all those Mums that I shot a look at in the past as your child screamed, from the bottom of my heart I apologise!)
95% of our routine is for The Baby’s benefit, making sure he feeds on time, gets enough sleep, has enough stimulation. The other 5% is for my benefit. 5 minutes to have an express shower (which I no longer cry in), 10 minutes to load the washing machine or hang washing out. If anyone even dares mention the word “ironing” to me you will be blocked. I have a baby, 3 children, a husband and a semi paralysed dog, fuck the ironing!
As we’ve settled into our routine the “benefit balance” has shifted to 70%/30% (still in favour of The Baby naturally) as we are faced with new challenges.
Having the feeds nailed like clockwork and a pretty regular sleeping pattern the only thing we cut corners on now is what I call “behind the scene sleep routine”. The process of actually getting him to sleep.
In all honesty this is a fucking hellish process and one that sucks the most energy from both The Bearded One and I. Prior to having The Baby I had zero experience of putting a baby to bed – why would I? I find it is the thing that challenges me most as a mother, the patience required is unbelievable. He will only be rocked in a certain way, this involves you standing up and rocking him back and forth until you think your back might just give in. God forbid you try to sit down! “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING MOTHER?” Back up I get. He has to have a particular blanket laid gently over his eyes. Don’t even mention the word swaddle – he hates it. If his arms are restricted then how will he scratch your chest with his kitten claw like finger nails? I have 5 tattoos and not one of them hurt as much as when he drags his nails across my skin in a fit of rage. Finally there is The Playlist. I have used this particular playlist since he was 3 days old and it works wonders, it has white noise in the background with soothing lullaby tones over the top. It does however have running water throughout so if you are going to use it then make sure you go to the toilet before you start this process.
In fact set yourself up a camp! Go to the toilet, get a cuppa and a glass of wine (because the process will inevitably last long enough to start drinking!) get yourself some snacks, perhaps a refuelling breakfast bar and for the love of God make sure you CHARGE YOUR PHONE. You don’t want to be at the point of sleep and the playlist to end abruptly. He will know and you will need to start all over again.
It is in fact the fear of starting all over again that means you take the helpful comments such as “you’re spoiling him” or “can’t he soothe himself” (he’s a fucking baby, he doesn’t know where his feet are let alone able to “soothe himself”!!) on the chin.
Yes I am aware I am probably making a rod for my own back.
Yes I know I should put him down “sleepy but not asleep”.
Yes I know I should leave him to cry for a small amount of time before picking him up. But I am his mother, I am built to protect him so forgive me if I pick my baby up when he cries!
Frankly unless you have mastered the art of Baby Sleep with your 5,000 children and are living on a yacht having made millions from your best selling book then you can fuck off. I am doing my best.
In fact everything I do is not really to buy more time it’s to find a way to enjoy these little moments. He is growing all too quickly and I am fully aware it won’t be long before he no longer needs me to rock him to sleep. I won’t get to rub my face against his whispy hair or lay my cheek against his and listen to him snuffle in my ear. Those precious moments will be gone and I don’t want to wish a single second of his life away.
Having said that I do wish the little fucker would stop scratching my chest, pulling my hair, kicking and hitting me as he puts up the predictable nap time fight. I know I said I’m his mother and built to protect him but anyone screaming and scratching you is going to make you want to scream, cry and throw things all at the same time. That doesn’t just go away once you have a baby!
So after an average of 30mins of vigorous rocking to the playlist he is finally asleep. Do not be fooled at this point, there is every chance he is faking it. My suggestion is to pick up his arm and drop it on himself, if there is resistance he is not ready to go down. If it falls like a dead weight this is your window. Be warned it is not an exact science, much like a bomb he may go off at any minute. In fact it is wise to treat your sleeping baby like a bomb. Very slowly move him away from your body so the change in temperature doesn’t set him off (think Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons bomb). This next manoeuvre is critical, it takes practice and precision. Laying him in the crib. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Actually that’s horseshit, the right way to do it is swiftly and with confidence. The wrong way to do it is getting The Baby’s arm caught in your dressing gown, dropping him into the crib face first and then tripping over the legs (cribs not baby’s) as you try to leave the room. Fucking seamless!
If you have successfully put your baby to bed, again I salute you. Use this time to take a selfie, upload it to every social media platform you can think of letting everyone know what you’ve just achieved and shower yourself in praise. No-one will have worked harder than you tonight. Apart from other bed time warriors obviously.
If the baby has woken up and you are sitting the dark at 1am with tears silently rolling down your face, too scared to wipe them as any movement might wake him again you are not alone. I have been there. We have all been there.
As I sit here typing this I have abandoned all thoughts of putting him in his crib, I have laid him across my lap with my left leg going dead to the sound of baby tv in the background. I will let battle commence at the next nap time but for now I am going to lay here and enjoy the peace and quiet, drinking my nearly freezing tea.
No I’m not, my leg has just flinched and woken him up. Betrayed by my own body.
Here we go again!