We are on the brink of moving our little man into his own room and I have been counting down to that milestone with unashamedly gleeful anticipation. To have our room back again. To be able to use our en suite! It’s the stuff of dreams. Even so, I have to admit there have been some hilarious moments during the time the little beast has taken over our room, and lots of small things that I imagine I’ll look back on fondly and smile about years from now.
I can’t say I really found myself adhering to the stereotypical Mum-isms that people told me about while I was pregnant or in the early days after we had our little boy.
“You’ll be getting up to check he’s still breathing every 5 minutes”, they said.
“You’ll find yourself standing over his crib gazing at him while he sleeps”, they said.
They were wrong on both counts.
First few days aside (when you are anxious and still can’t believe that the hospital have let you leave in sole charge of an actual human baby – how the hell do you know what to do with a baby?! They must be mad!) I can only assume the mums that do both of these things either have too much sleep on their hands (lucky things) or they really, really have baby-fever. Neither of those applied to me.
Our baba has never really slept for long enough spells to leave me in any doubt that he is still very much alive. Getting out of my bed to check that he is would therefore be unnecessary. And believe me if he is asleep I am so thankful of that fact that I am not wasting time looking at him, I’m trying to get some sleep as well!
So the stereotypical baby bedroom sharing stories I had heard from others never really applied to us. Instead there have been lots of things nobody ever told us would happen, but none the less they did and they are actually quite funny and charming in their own way. These are the things I want to remember.
All The Giggles
Hubs and I have found ourselves reverting to giggling school-kids. A baby doing the loudest fart known to humanity in his sleep will do that to you. He’s fast asleep, you’ve said goodnight to each other out on the landing so as not to wake him, you open the door as quietly as you can, creep into bed all the while trying to be silent with every fibre of your being so as not to wake the little blighter up. Mission is successful, you’re both in bed and baby is still sleeping peacefully. Yes!
Then it happens….
The little baba lets rip. It is loud. It is unexpected. It is hilarious. You want to laugh LOUDLY. But you are trained in the art of Not Waking Up Baby. You mustn’t be loud. You duck your heads under the covers. You stifle the laughter. It comes out in little wheezy grunts as you lay there side by side. Your shoulders start to shake, and you can feel your partner’s shoulders shaking just as badly next to you.
It’s like a flashback to being thirteen sitting in the back row of maths lesson stifling laughter every time the teacher who pronounces her R’s as W’s talks to the class about ‘ranking’. You want to laugh. You NEED to laugh. But you are acutely aware that if you draw attention to yourself there will be consequences. So you do laugh, but you do it quietly. Shoulder-shakingly. Hiding your expression. And somehow the situation becomes all the more hilarious for it.
In the last 5 and half months Hubs and I have had many stifled laughing fits just like this at night and it’s been bloody good fun.
Along with our new room-mate came an unexpected sense of solidarity. At times it was like a battle and Hubs and I were definitely on the same team. Not that baba was the enemy as such, but we needed to put on a united front in order to achieve anything at all.
One night in the early days when we had FINALLY achieved the impossible of getting baby to sleep and putting him in his crib without him waking up, I remember we had got into bed and no sooner had our heads hit the pillow than the baby stirred. Not yet a cry but a whimper and a shuffle. It was borderline. It could possibly still end well, but equally it could all be about to go horribly wrong. Without a word we instinctively grabbed each other’s hands under the bed covers. We held on so tight, both holding our breath, both thinking the same thing – ‘pleeeeeease don’t wake up!’ It was like a prayer and thank goodness our prayer was answered! When we finally realised we were in the clear our grip loosened a little and we could breathe a sigh of relief.
We repeated our fearful hand holding ritual many times over the next few months, any time we suspected something may have disrupted the beast in his sleep. As mad as it sounds it was the loveliest thing.
Having a room to ourselves again will of course mean we can actually speak out loud to one another which will be brilliant, but the memories of those wordless shows of solidarity over the last few months are sweet none the less.
Things I Never Expected
Having a baby in your bedroom changes things a LOT. Particularly when your new little roomie likes to wake multiple times a night, meaning you will do almost anything humanly possibly not to disrupt him. As well as almost anything humanly possibly to ensure you get the most amount of sleep you can around him. This called for us adopting quite a lot of behaviour that I had never expected we would.
I never expected we would spend the first 6 months of our family life not flushing the upstairs toilet between the hours of 7pm and 7am. (Or whenever the baby went to bed and got up.) We did. Heaven help anyone who forgot this rule. If you woke the baby up, you were the one dealing with the fallout!
I never expected my husband would start to use earplugs as a means of sleeping a bit better on nights when he had work the next day. He did though. It helped! I don’t blame him.
I never expected we would start rituals like untucking all the bedcovers before putting the baby to bed EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. We did. Why risk waking him with the inadvertently loud rustle of a sheet when you can plan ahead and prepare?
I never expected I would learn to remain COMPLETELY silent through even the most painful of toe stubbing incidents so as not to wake up the babe.
I never expected to become an absolute cow to my lovely husband if he took any more than a nano-second to turn off his alarm clock on those days it went off before Baby was awake. I did though. Poor sod soon learnt to turn it off in record time. He should probably be in the Guinness Book of World Records really, it’s quite a skill!
Getting Baba to Sleep
There have been bad nights, particularly in the beginning, when getting the baby to sleep was an absolute art form. We tried anything we could.
When he was really, really small I could regularly be found rocking him back and forth and singing to him in the wee small hours of the night. The wheels on the bus seemed to work quite well for a while. The only problem with that is it only takes one verse and the damn thing will be stuck going round your head for the next 72 hours at least. If looks could kill I think Hubs would have done me in at least 10 times in the first couple of weeks.
Taking a break from nursery rhymes I found myself moving on to current chart music. It became somewhing of a self-set challenge how I could make any given song from the radio into a ditty about sending my baby to sleep. A personal favourite was my updated version of Don’t be Afraid to Catch Feels. Unlike the Calvin Harris version, in our household the chorus began “don’t be afraid to catch zzzs”. It went on to contain catchy lyrics such as “I know you ain’t afraid to sleep” and “catch zzzzs with mummy”.
Hubs perfected what became known as ‘the Pirate Ship’. This was essentially putting the tiny baba into his car seat and swinging him from side to side like a pirate ship ride at the fair. It worked. He would fall asleep almost instantly. The tricky thing was then removing him from the car seat and placing him in his crib without waking him up. (It was also an insanely good workout for your arms. The bigger he got, the more it killed those biceps!)
Whatever it took we would do it to get our little sleep-dodger off to the land of nod so we could creep into our own bed and sleep for as long as he would allow.
The Bum Slam
No, it’s not a super-charged wrestling move, although it sort of looks like one. It’s our little beasty’s very own sleep-inducing habit.
Many a night have I lay in bed wondering what on earth he was doing in his crib to make such loud slamming noises. Honestly, the slams are so loud for such a small person!
Then one day we saw him in action and realised – as he is drifting off to sleep he lifts his bum in the air and slams it back down. Then does it again and again and again a few more times for good measure. Then eventually he will fall asleep. It’s like his own little sleep cue that he’s picked up completely of his own accord. It’s bloody hilarious. And also kind of cute. Many a time have we giggled at the sight of him bum-slamming himself to sleep on the video monitor as we watch from downstairs. I will always remember the sight (and sound) of our little one’s signature (sleep) wrestling move!
These are the things I want to remember.
No matter how much time fades the difficult bits to a dull blur rather than a vivid nightmare I am sure there will always be residing memories of sleepless nights, taking turns to rock and sway and swing and soothe (all to no avail), the night when baba didn’t sleep for more than 30 minutes straight at any one point (boy was that a long one!) and moments when getting out of bed on so little sleep seemed as big a feat as climbing Mount Everest, but it had to be done none the less as there was a screaming beast in the corner that required attention. Nothing will ever erase the memory of the most difficult night we had in the first week – full of buckets and buckets of tears (not just baby’s) and genuine worry that we had got ourselves in way over our heads and were in no way cut out for this parenting lark. But alongside all that will be these other memories. The laughter, the lengths we went to, and the love.
I will treasure them always. And of course, they will provide lots of material for embarrassing our little cherub when he’s older and brings home new girlfriends. Payback for lack of sleep in his early days!