Sleep never used to be a big deal in our household. Me and the hubbie would simply close our eyes, open our lungs, and away we’d go for eight hours in our respective dreamlands, give or take a pee or two.
I’d go so far as to say we used to find sleeping so simple, even a small child could do it.
Only most bloody well can’t, can they? Not like adults, anyways.
Who knew the phrase ‘sleeping like a baby’ meant ‘writhing around like a worm-ridden dog with a vibrator up its ass taking a bath in fox shit.’
As you struggle to come to terms with this new reality, other people become obsessed with how your baby is sleeping too. Not just your friends and family. Even the local Big Issue seller has enquired.
I wouldn’t be surprised if #ishegoingthroughthenightyet was trending on twitter right now. Go on. Go and have a look.
In fact, if I had a bullet for everyone that had asked me how the boy is sleeping, I’d be an American by now. An American going around shooting everyone who asked me how the boy is sleeping.
“Who gives a f*ck how HE’S sleeping?” I wail internally. “All he has to do is sit around all day, sucking his toes and cracking the occasional smile. I’M the one operating heavy machinery (the washing machine). Shouldn’t you be asking me HOW I’M SLEEPING?”
Because on the occasions when he IS sleeping through the night, we sure as hell aren’t.
What with the fidgeting, moaning, snuffling, burping, mumbling, snorting and farting coming from his carrycot, you’d be forgiven for thinking someone had stolen him during the night and replaced him with a working farm.
Couple that with the night terrors – you know, those unholy anguished screeches that are as easy to ignore as a rocket balloon at a funeral – and you have a recipe for sleep deprivation on a Guantanamo Bay scale.
And what the hell have babies got to be having nightmares about anyways? Being chased down a birth canal by a pair of salad spoons and unable to reach the light? Losing the teeth they don’t yet have? A giant boob sitting on top of them and they’re unable to move their tongue?
On the plus side, people have offered all manner of helpful advice. Like have you considered ear plugs?
I know having a baby is meant to shrink your brain to the size of a….a….you know…a whassissname… (it’ll come back to me) but when faced with noises to which I’d rather not be subject, then YES. I’VE SHITTING WELL CONSIDERED EARPLUGS!
For the record, I’ve also considered strapping car cleaning sponges to my ears with duct tape and faking my own death.
Luckily, most of the boy’s night wakings are momentary – for him at least. He’ll just pop a fist in his mouth and drift back off. I’ll pop a hernia jumping out of bed to check he’s okay, then spend the time until he’s due his next feed in a fitful state of wakefulness thinking things like:
Is he definitely asleep?
Is he too deeply asleep?
Is he still breathing?
How soon before he wakes up?
If he wakes up, when will he go back to sleep again?
If he goes back to sleep, how long will it be for?
If I use the word sleep one more time, will that improve this post’s search engine rankings?
All the while you’re doing these mental calculations, the clock is tick- tick- ticking, counting out the seconds of your creeping mortality. It’s as if you’re trapped in an eternal ‘numbers game’ on Countdown. If Dante added an extra layer to hell, it would comprise Carol Vorderman’s overstretched pillow face burnt onto the back of your eyelids whilst a succession of sheep baa ‘one large one and five small ones’ into your over-sensitive ears ad infinitum.
But I digress. Sleep deprivation will do that to you.
Let’s not forget, lack of sleep is a DANGEROUS thing, people.
Some of the biggest disasters in living memory have been due to the effects of chronic fatigue. The 1979 power plant accident at Three Mile Island. The 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl. The 2009 voting for Jedward incident on X Factor (what else could possibly have prompted it?).
Yep. Mother Nature really knew what she was doing putting you in charge of the most precious thing on the planet, and then affording you less sleep than you’d need to keep the school hamster alive. Way to go MoNa!
Former president Bill Clinton thinks lack of sleep is to blame for gridlock and bad legislation in US politics. If only he’d got a decent eight-hour stretch whilst in office, he may never have lost that cigar up his intern’s muff.
It also ruins your looks. You only need to go to a pre-11am playgroup to see the full effects. It’s like a George A. Romero movie, with countless moms walking around jerky-limbed, dead eyed, gently moaning, their faces contorted into the mask of when they were last woken up for the umpteenth time.
Any one of them would eat a passing stranger’s brains if it meant that they could get four hours of unbroken sleep. FACT.
And it’s not like you get the chance to build up to this life-shattering lack of bye-byes. Only an idiot would deprive themselves of valuable sleep BEFORE a baby comes along in an effort to get used to it.
Instead sleep becomes like crack from which we are forced to go cold turkey. We’re distracted. Irritable. Sleep is all we can think about and we’re constantly wondering where the next hit might come from.
Worse, when we do manage to squeeze in a few cheeky zzz’s, we start hiding it from our partners, in case they want some too.
I say get the naps in when you can because lack of sleep can literally kill you, as proven by Russian scientist Maria Manaceine.
In 1894 she kept four puppies awake so long they died, the first after 96 hours and the last after 143 hours with no sleep. She then repeated the experiment with six puppies, all of which also died. The conclusion? That bitch didn’t like puppies….. oh, and you really need to sleep to stay alive.
Now we just need to work out how to get some and we’re laughing.
Well, we’re already laughing.
Mwahaha. Mwahahaha. Mwahahahahahaha. Mwahahahahahahahaha. Mwahahahahahahahahah.
*Is gently led away*