This week, for the first time in 18 months, I’ve slept through the night. This, of course, means that my daughter has slept through the night.
When I was heavily pregnant, I couldn’t sleep through the night. Little kicks would come from within at 3am, sometimes nudging, sometimes pounding me awake. And then I would lie there wondering how my life was about to change in ways I couldn’t yet understand. Or just lie there wishing my hip didn’t hurt.
Now during the night I sit, in a kind of silent vigil, holding, soothing, willing my little human to sleep. I sit as my mind wanders, watching her face. The smooth, soft plumpness of her cheeks, the sweet crescent shape of her eyelashes, the fervent sucking of the dummy I wish I’d never given her.
Sleep has always been a challenge for me. I used to experience bouts of terrible insomnia, the kind where your body has to just give in to the weird ride, believing it must actually be travel induced jet lag. At night I wonder if I’ve passed my inability to sleep on to her and blame myself when I can be bothered to think about it.
In her first few days she slept like a dream – we told ourselves we were lucky and it would be ok. Then came the reflux; the grunting, retching, snuffling noises that made her sound like a tiny dinosaur. I would feed her in the night and hold her upright for half an hour at least to let the milk digest before I could lay her down. Then came the 4 month regression, the 8, the 12.
Surprisingly, I began to cherish those night time cuddles. Now she’s older, she’s too busy to stop for a hug. And they gave me time alone in the quiet dark. Sometimes I couldn’t sit still, I was so fed up of being constantly touched, constantly needed.
Others I would sit there a little longer than I needed to, perhaps for 10 minutes after her little fingers had released their grip on my hand and curled peacefully away, to savour the smell of her hair and the sound of her breath, knowing that all to soon, these moments will be gone.