Pyjamas

What do you wear when you sleep? … Okay, and now think back to the time before you had children. Is there a difference? No? Wow, I am not sure how you managed that.

See, before I had I my boys, my mood decided what I wore at night. If I wore anything at all. But there was definitely the possibility that I wore something that looked a little sexy. But those sexy negligees have been at the bottom of my wardrobe for some years now. It all changed when I was pregnant. I suddenly realised that I would be in the hospital for a while and might need something that covered everything if I had to roam the hallways. So I bought my first full pyjama since I was a kid: a pair of long soft baggy pants and a vest with buttons, so I would have easy access for breastfeeding.

Once the boys arrived I realised that one of ‘those pyjamas’ was not enough. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not the kind of person that wants to walk around in pyjamas all day. But when you have to get up at night to tend to your children and you’re wearing only a short negligee, you’ll get cold very quickly. So then you have to put on socks, slippers, a bathrobe and/or pants, depending on the season. All this takes time and effort, and you are seriously sleep deprived. And now imagine doing that six times per night. You have to prepare for the worst every time, as you never know how long it takes to get your child back to sleep. So, very soon I had more soft and cosy but very not sexy pyjama pants in my possession than I had ever had in my life. Because really, the only thing you want when you are woken up in the middle of the night is to be back in your bed as soon as possible, preferably while you and your bed are still warm.

As the weeks and months go by, and you are still doing this 3 to 6 times per night, the negligees end up at the bottom of the pile. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it still has not changed. My children were born more than 3 years ago and I still have to get out of bed at night regularly to comfort them.

I don’t care about negligees anymore. All I care about is sleep.

Sleeping through the night

It still happens. Those nights that I hoped to be gone forever by now.

You fall asleep at 11 pm. Only to be awakened by one of your sons at midnight. He had a bad dream and keeps crying. By 3 am he is finally asleep. In your bed.
Meanwhile your other son has started crying. You try everything, cuddles, milk, music, stories, singing, but he is sooo upset. By 6 am he is exhausted and finally falls asleep. In your bed. Somewhere in between you managed to get your other son back in his own bed.
At 7 am the alarm goes. Another night has come and gone. Yihaa! You managed to get 2 whole hours of sleep!
Somewhere in your head you hear the voices of other parents. ‘Mine slept through the night when he was only 3 months.’ ‘Our kids never had any trouble sleeping.’ Right. Great for you. Not every child is the same, thank you.
The worst one is: ‘Just let them cry, they need to learn.’  What do they need to learn I wonder? That when they are sad, afraid or hurt, no-one comes to their aid?
Even half asleep and in my grumpiest mood I will do everything I can to make my boys feel safe.Till whatever age they need me.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. There is no specific age that children will always sleep through the night. Our boys are 2,5 years old and usually fall asleep without a problem. They can sleep for 10/11 hours but that does not mean they will not wake up in between. And with more than one child that often means that every night has something in store for you…

‘When I don’t sleep, nobody sleeps’

Having twins meant that we had more than two years of bad nights full of interrupted sleep. The first months with new-borns are like that for everyone with a new baby, but when they started sleeping a bit better and did not need night feedings anymore we always had one baby keeping us up or waking us for something. We managed to deal with all problems that came up in this half asleep- half awake state and always fell asleep again as soon as the problem was solved.  We were tired but learned to live with this kind of sleeping, 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep was all that we could hope for. At least our boys slept till 8 in the morning, so we did not have the early mornings some parents have.

When our boys both finally slept through the night, we started getting used to 8 hours of interrupted sleep again. It was heavenly! But it was incredible how much more exhausted we were those first months that they slept well. It seemed our body suddenly realised we had been doing everything by the skin of our teeth.

So now we are used to this rhythm and finally feel a bit more human. This has a great disadvantage though. Because when one of them wakes up at night now, we are in serious trouble. When one of them cries, we hardly manage to get up. Our brain is so fast asleep it does not seem to know what to do anymore. Console him? Feed him? Sing a song? Hug him? Change his nappy? Put him in our bed? The amount of things one can do seem endless now, but in the middle of the night we suddenly are clueless. So by the time we’ve figured it out, we are totally awake and falling asleep is not easy anymore.

Last night we had a great episode of this. A two hour ‘I-don’t-want-to-sleep-and-we-all-have-to-suffer-tantrum’. The only one that slept between 4 and 6 a.m. was our other son, he has mastered ignoring his brother’s cries so well that I am envious. I am not sure how I managed to get the boys to school this morning, but I did. When I came home I accidentally looked in the mirror. It seems I have aged ten years overnight and got some brand new wrinkles. So I think it’s back to bed for me today…

© Carien Touwen 2017