I should have known better. This is not my first time at the rodeo. Many a Saturday has found me bleary-eyed, guzzling coffee, MORE tired than I am on a weekday because I ignored the simple fact that babies and young children don’t differentiate between the weekday and the weekend. “Oh, right, it’s Saturday; I’ll skip a feeding so Mom can sleep in.” Nope. But I let that Friday-night end-of-the-week feeling run away with me, and it was midnight before I fell asleep, my head full of Psych episodes, Facebook status updates and NPR.org news stories. Good night and thank you, Internet.
When the baby awoke at 3:30, I felt regret but not surprise. He’s been waking around that time for several weeks. I have found that with this third baby I am not nearly as interested in changing his sleep habits as I was with #1 – I know from experience how quickly they change on their own, so it seems easier just to roll with it than to try and effect a change that might only last a few days. Plus, we’ve gotten really fast at this. 30 minutes later, he was fed and changed and back in bed, snoozing away. My turn, I thought as I snuggled back under the duvet.
My 4-year-old had other ideas. At 4:30, my “mom radar” picked up some shuffling, doors opening, then a toilet flush. When I opened my eyes, she was standing between me and her sleeping baby brother’s crib. “I pee-peed in my jammies,” she said mournfully. These days, my husband and I have a standard operating procedure for nighttime awakenings: since I’m usually up at least once with the baby, it falls to him to support the other two. However, this felt a little bit like “female trouble”; plus the baby’s sleep was fragile and I wanted to get big sister out of the room as quickly as possible. So I ushered her back to her room, helped her with the necessary changes and tucked her back into bed.
An hour later she was still awake, her little body nearly vibrating under the covers. I’ve been reading a great book on sleep, which emphasizes the importance of understanding, monitoring, and reducing your child’s tension level. She was one tense little girl, perhaps due to the trauma of having an accident. Whatever the reason, my late night had left me very little emotional reserve for helping her calm down. I had reached my breaking point. I kissed her and returned to our room for “reinforcements” (aka Daddy). 30 minutes later he came back to bed – unsuccessful in returning her to dreamland, but at least she was quiet and in her room.
6:30am – My alarm, which I NEVER leave on, not even from day to day during the week, went off. The cat began to howl for food. The baby stirred, not really awake, but not quiet. My husband fed the cat. Baby continued to move around and moan sleepily for an hour, then settled back down.
I’d just drifted off again at 7:45 when a loud knocking jolted me awake. My daughter had decided that if we would not get up with her, her older brother should. He refused to come down from his bunk, so she continued to knock until my husband intervened. Unfortunately, she has recently brought her shriek to new levels of shrill strength, and as her father attempted once again to get her back to bed, she employed it at full volume.
There would be no more sleep for any of us this morning.
But in Part 2, I will share how we recovered from the horror!