That wonderful moment when the house goes quiet, and for a couple of hours I am myself again. No persistent little voice saying “Mammy!” over and over. No small arms suddenly wrapping themselves around my legs at the most inopportune of moments. No incessant babble and chatter. No cute little snatches of “Twinkle Twinkle” or “Rainbow, too”. No borrowing my phone and saying “Yes, yes,
hello…” into it. No feeding the dog its biscuits and tasting them herself on the sly. Just sleep. And silence. Silence is golden.
Silence is precious. Sometimes silence doesn’t last long enough.
I love my girl. She is my whole world. I wake with her in the morning, and I spend almost every moment with her, playing with her, cooking for her, dressing her, taking her to see her friends, entertaining her, soothing her, washing her clothes, changing her nappies, pushing her, walking with her, carrying her. I do these things day in and day out, tirelessly and endlessly. Sometimes it feels as though we’re stuck in a cycle of awake and asleep and nothing in between. I struggle to find the energy to do anything other than sink into the sofa at the end of the day, and do little more than half heartedly browse the internet or watch television. At times I lose sight of who I am.
On nights when she wakes at two and stays awake until four, when I sing and I soothe and I stroke her hair, and,when she finally falls asleep, when I crawl back into bed again, I wonder if I will have the energy to pull through the next day. And then I fall asleep still wondering, only to wake to giggles and raspberry blowing, and smiles that somehow keep me going all day long. She’ll bounce her toys up and down and is bursting to get out of bed. If I’m lucky, she’ll come and sit on my knee and want a cuddle for a while during the day, but it doesn’t ever last quite as long as I’d like.
My nana used to say sleep was the best medicine, but E is her own tonic. She’s sunshine, vitamins and minerals rolled into one.
E is full of life. Her energy and enthusiasm are infectious, and she bounces through her days like a cross between Tigger and the Duracell bunny; go, go go. Before bath time this evening, she and daddy went for a walk, and she sang and ran the whole way even after a trip to toddler group and a long play in the garden. In contrast, I sank into a heap on the sofa and breathed a sigh of relief.
Naps. Naps are for losers. Who wants to go to sleep when there is so much to see and do? When I first had a baby, I imagined nap times being when I would sit and contemplate, perhaps write my novel, put my feet up and have a well deserved cup of tea. Naps would be sacred. In the early months, when I was busy adjusting to being a mum, naps became moments of calm in otherwise action packed days. Cuddled together on the sofa I’d hold her in my arms, and she’d sleep snuggled onto my chest. Or she’d curl into me in a coffee shop and nap in the sling. She never napped in her cot unless I was close by, and before I knew where I was, naps meant she didn’t want to go to bed. Entire evenings would go by and E would refuse to go to sleep. In fact, she’d sleep less if she had a nap than without one. I figure at some stage she just stopped needing them. Now she just won’t nap even if she’s dog tired. And it makes that waking in the night a little bit harder to deal with. I just know I won’t get to rest all day. Until she’s in bed and safely asleep, and then, only then I can unwind and stop tending and focusing and checking and worrying.
I’m really not complaining. I know I signed up for several years of broken sleep when we chose to have a baby, and all the wonder of being her mummy makes up for the lack of it. We have it better than others I know. Life with E is never ever dull, not for even a moment. She’s herself from sunrise until sunset, in the dark of the night and the heat of the day, and I never want her to change. Sleep is such a tiny price to pay for what I have gained.
As an experienced and qualified practitioner, I specialise in pregnancy, birth and parent support - my aim is to listen, inform, support and reassure when needed.
I have worked with parents since 2002 and I set up Birth, Baby & Family in 2011 to provide good information, different voices and links to the best products and services for families.