She hasn’t slept well for days? Weeks maybe? It could be just 2 nights in a row but it seems like an eternity. Like any good work you have done is gone and you are back to square one. Again. In fact, maybe she has just slept badly her whole life. Accept it. She’s a bad sleeper. It comes and it goes. You talk about it, desperately ask for help whether it be waking or terrors or controlled crying and whichever kid it is at the time, all you know for fact is that it sucks. Big time. You read books, you talk to Doctors, you stay away from triggers, you pray that she grows out of it, and yet whenever it rears it’s ugly head again, from time to time, you never fail to be surprised by it. Scared by it’s unknowing time frame. Overwhelmed by it. Disappointed by it. Somehow blaming yourself for something that you could not possibly stop, and yet certain that somehow, somehow it must be your fault. It’s ugly. It’s exhausting.
It’s 5 minutes into your sleep, maybe 5 hours and they wake, creeping into your room for comfort, to slide in next to a warm parent’s back. And because a well meaning friend once said “You HAVE to stop doing that Beth” you snap. Determined to get them back into their bed because they should. It’s what the books say. It’s what all the grandparents say. It’s what should happen. So you make it. It might take 10 minutes. It might take 4 hours. You desperately, frantically whisper, begging the small girl not to wake her sister. You sit in the cold, on the floor, more times than any other mother would possibly do it without losing their mind, because it’s what should happen. You look at your phone in the dark, on the floor, grateful for small mercies like twitter. A silent conversation in the dark. An ear listening, consoling, sitting up with you. It helps. You crawl back, on the floor, on your hands and knees not making a noise. Anything to keep that heavy breathing going. In. Out. You can do it. You break free into your room, into your bed, certain that the doona will make enough noise to rouse them. And it does. Sometimes as soon as you make it to door. Mostly when you are 3 minutes into an exhausted sleep. Worse still is when you can’t get back to sleep, sitting there watching the clock, the dark silence mocking you and the morning light that comes an hour later when you are finally, deeply resting slapping you in your face. Sometimes you spend hours, fucking hours in there, doing your time, because they should be sleeping in their beds only to find that they have crept in, asleep beside you when you had nothing left to give, and it was all in vain. Those hours. That waiting. That cold, hard floor. For no reason. Because they should.
These days are endless. They are filled with endless doubts and resentment. Questioning and head banging frustrations. A desperate desire to be anywhere else than where you are, right now, deep in a shitty sleep time and yet filled with worry for your baby one split second later. For your little person’s worries that wake them, their tiredness, their seeming pain and wishing you could do something. Just to make it stop. Just for everyone to get a decent night’s sleep. For longer than 2 nights in a row. Because they should right? Kids should sleep. Kids should have 12 hours a night. They should stay in their beds. It should just happen. Well it seems to for everyone else that you know.
Because you have restless sleeper. A light sleeper. A night waker. A night terror. A nightmare. A bad sleeper. Always has been and even though the books, the people tell you it won’t be forever, maybe she always will be. The past 5 years, 5(!) have been a pretty long time so far don’t you think? Tonight we will go to bed wishing sleep to come. Praying for quiet sleep, peaceful dreams and a still body, what should happen. Who knows what will come, all I do know is that we are not alone. It’s OK. And it will pass.