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Dreaming of sleep

on February 15, 2013

I went to the sleep clinic today and saw the child psychologist.  We talked about all the different challenges I am facing getting Small Girl to sleep (she won’t go to sleep!  She won’t stay asleep!) and my anxieties about the effects this is having on Big Girl.  I cried, of course – it doesn’t help that last night Small Girl woke up at 11 pm and 1.30 am, then Big Girl woke up around 2 am and Small Girl was up from 4 am.  I brought her into bed with me and she fed for the rest of the night, so I haven’t really slept.  Oh, and Ex-Husband and I have been arguing about access arrangements again.  The phrase ‘not unreasonable’ has been used, repeatedly, by both of us to support entirely opposing arguments.  It is exhausting and emotionally draining, particularly when we’re likely to carry on doing this for another 10-15 years.

And then we talked about different strategies: stopping breastfeeding at night; putting Big Girl to bed first; getting Small Girl used to going to sleep in her bed and then gradually withdrawing from the room; keeping a sleep diary and looking for patterns; disturbing her slightly before a regular waking time to reset her sleep pattern; putting Big Girl to sleep in my bed while settling Small Girl.

Of course, I have ignored all the advice. Firstly, I want one last go.  One last go of feeding her to sleep and putting her down gently in her bed, knowing I’ve settled her.  One last go of getting up in the night, comforting her and watching her fall back to sleep as she feeds.  I am desperate for full nights of sleep, and to no longer experience the desperate need to be lying down fighting against the requirement to stay awake and upright. But still, there is something about night feeding which is special and intimate and belongs just to me and Small Girl.  Of course, I don’t have to do stop doing these things.  It’s up to me.  But I do need more sleep for us all.

And secondly, I am too tired and brain-addled to work out a plan tonight.  I can’t work out, in my head, how to juggle two children and coax them both into their beds.  I am trying to imagine the unforeseen consequences of changes to their routine.  I am thinking through what is most likely to make my life better rather than harder and tonight I just can’t get there.

So, tonight I am going to bed, and I hope to sleep, and not be disturbed.  And if I am disturbed I hope to cherish the time with my baby rather than hissing imprecations at her or begging her to go back to sleep.  And tomorrow perhaps I will make a plan which will, eventually, lead to the dream: putting two children into bed, kissing them goodnight, and not seeing them again until morning.

I am nothing if not optimistic.

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5 responses to “Dreaming of sleep

  1. seaswift says:

    Re your last sentence, it will happen!

  2. Valerie says:

    I’m sure you are exhausted. ❤ I have a 17 month old son and he still wakes to nurse multiple times throughout the night. A friend of mine recommended this to me: http://drjaygordon.com/attachment/sleeppattern.html and I am going to do it, it's just not the time for us yet. It is a gentle approach, not the cry-it-out method. I love how you described the special time it actually is to nurse at night. We sometimes think too much about the effect it has on our sleep and not enough about the beauty of our little ones. I do, anyway. 🙂

    • I find that being a parent is so often about feeling two conflicting emotions at the same time, and trying to hold them in tension. I get so frustrated by the dependency of my children, but I know I will look back and miss this age, probably in just a few years. I know I will never do this again and it makes me sad, even while I’m longing desperately for them to both be able to go to bed and go to sleep. And thinking about them growing up, becoming independent, makes me think about getting old. I can be a little morbid sometimes 🙂

      I talked to Big Girl tonight about changing our bedtime routine. She was not impressed with the idea. I’m putting it off until tomorrow again.

      • Valerie says:

        You are very insightful! There are definitely conflicting thoughts and emotions in parenting! Yes, we’ll all miss the little years (and they won’t seem so bad either). I’m already experiencing this with our oldest daughter. I can’t believe the little bitty cuddling days are over!! BUT the teen years have been so fun so far! It’s a whole new closeness and it’s wonderful! ❤
        We'll both sleep again…someday. When you're up at 2am, you can bet I am too. 😉

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