Maybe you have babies who sleep. That’s cool. I’m not bitter or anything. Unless you’re going to give me some advice that you just know is going to fix all my problems. You know, like having a good routine? Or always putting the baby down awake? Ooh ooh, or always hoovering round a baby so they get used to noise?
That last one is a personal favourite. If this was true, I would be totally made. No middle-of-the-night wakeups for me! No overtired baby who doesn’t want to sleep, nuh uh! Because Squeak knows noise, ok? She doesn’t even blink when the girls are doing, well whatever the hell it is the girls do. Whatever it is, it’s freaking noisy. Be it arguing, whining, laughing, squealing, talking at top volume or singing, Squeak knows it. And she’s that used to it, she barely even reacts to it any more.
(Disclaimer:unless it’s fireworks or applause in a group setting, those she finds absolutely terrifying.)
So yeah, if you’ve got any advice, leave it at the door. Or I will have to kill you.
In case you hadn’t already guessed, my babies don’t sleep. Well, the big ones do now, but they didn’t when they were younger. And Squeak is right in the middle of a night-time party phase at the moment. I can sympathise with her, to be honest. Babyhood is pretty overwhelming. All those developmental leaps, the talking and the walking and the climbing and suchlike. The different foods that they have to learn to digest. So many new things and changes, it’s no wonder that they find it hard to switch their brains off.
Now, there is a phenomenon I have observed with my non-sleeping babies. I don’t think it applies to all babies, but I’m pretty sure that the mums of the non-sleepers will be nodding in a second.
It doesn’t seem to matter how used they are to noise. Once darkness falls, the sounds they can blank out in the day become insanely amplified. One wrong move, and the peacefully sleeping baby is suddenly wide awake. And after the battle that came before, noone wants that, do they?
I certainly don’t, and that is why I have become an expert on sneaking around a sleeping baby.
I know exactly which floorboards in my bedroom creak. Like, I could point them out on a diagram. I do not simply walk out of the room once Squeak is asleep. No, I engage in a set of Matrix-like leaps and dodges, with the aim of missing the creaky ones. I’m pretty good at it, I have to say. Although I do look like a massive idiot. That goes with the territory.
I can exit the bed without her even sensing I am gone. It involves some awesome slow-motion rolling, which sounds a lot cooler than it actually is. A lot cooler.
I can become invisible in the doorway. That one took a lot of practice. But now I can stand there and actually blend in with my surroundings, watching to see if she will settle herself without my help. I used to fail at this one all the time. I would peer round the door slowly. One second of eye contact later and that was that. Not any more. Now I’ve got pure ninja stealth.
Finally, I can run up the stairs gazelle-like: quiet yet graceful. Actually, strike graceful as that is total bullshit. We’ll just say quiet. Anyway, I can do that.
I bet you’re all thinking I sound pretty smug myself now, am I right? All that stuff at the top about unhelpful advice and here I am, thinking I’ve got all the answers. Don’t worry. I’m going to fix that right now.
Because no matter how good I am at creeping around a sleeping child there are 3 simple things that completely ruin all my best efforts.
1. Clicky ankles
All of my joints in the leg area click. In fact, I’m pretty sure some of them aren’t supposed to bend, let alone click. But they do.
So I can sneak about, rolling off the bed and jumping over floorboards. But after I take one glance to make sure she’s still asleep, I move off and CRACK! It’s like a freaking gun went off. Now tell me, could you sleep through a gun shot? No, and neither can she.
This is worst in the winter season. My dearly beloved school-going children are bringing home bug after bug after bug, and of course I catch every single one. So I’m edging out of the bedroom, after God knows how long up there, when I feel it. The tickle. It’s not like an ordinary tickly throat. It knows that you can’t do a single thing to relieve it. So it is intense.
You haven’t got any options. You’re not going to be stupid enough to start coughing right there, are you? There’s only one choice left.
To hold your breath hurtle down the stairs at break-neck speed, burst through the living room door and explode with the most satisfying cough of your life.
This last one is, most definitely a ‘first world problem.’
You’re shattered. You’ve survived the day with irrational small beings. They’re all asleep. You’ve done your work, and the sofa beckons.
Now, I’m a modern woman. And I also find lying in the dark waiting for a baby to pass out intensely boring. So I’ve usually got a tablet up there, and I’m Facebooking and tweeting and occasionally, reading an actual novel. And 90% of the time, I remember to switch off the sound. The other 10% of the time, it comes back to bite me in the arse.
Off I go, all is quiet. I can watch TV, I can knit, I can blog, I can stare at a wall in complete silence. Then suddenly, as I’m about to leave…
The screen lights up with an intensity akin to a nuclear blast. Obviously it’s notifying me of something vitally important, such as a like on Facebook, or a reminder that I haven’t played a crappy game for ages.
I hold my breath. I glance to the side. She sighs. I think maybe I’ve got away with it. Then, up pops her head. No, I didn’t.
So there you go. Not looking so clever now, am I?