Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Party Shift

Una, who is generally a talented sleeper, woke up at 2am this morning and didn't go back to sleep. She was cheerful, singing, playing...AWAKE. Both Martin and I are now zombies. Una is at creche. She looked pretty dreamy when I left her. Like she might go to sleep in a bowlful of morning tea. Martin got up with Una around 3 and gave me a 'sleep in' (ah, it's such a relative term) till 7. I remember when sleep in meant the other side of lunch.

Martin and I have been having serious flashbacks to Fred's toddler sleepage. Or lack thereof. She spent chunky chunky periods of most nights wide awake - this was when I was writing Breathe. Perhaps it bled in, the scenes where Trout walks the streets at night...perhaps that was me, mentally roaming the dark streets below our second storey flat, that solitude of being awake at night when all the world seems to be sleeping - a kind of island, a reversal of days, it so perfectly reflects the sense of being fragmented and remote from the practical world as a new mother (which to me was both a pleasant sensation and sometimes a deeply lonely one). Martin used to recite time tables at her. We sang too, song after song. We carried her round the house, we'd bathe with her, feed her, pat her, read to her (her favourite book at the time was Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten by Bob Graham, as a baby she tore some of the pages but I can steal recite it word for word, even though tracts of text are missing). As a small baby Fred never cried. Really. She was two months old before she did, after she reacted badly to her shots and after that too it was only occasionally, she smiled wherever we went, at everyone. She slept pretty well too for the first 9 months or so, and would sleep anywhere. Evena s she got older, I could take her out all day and she would sleep well in the pram, in the car, in my arms. It wasn't until she was 14 months old that she began having inexplicable crying sessions, usually at night; long, inconsolable crying that made us feel helpless. Not related directly to anything, not teeth or sickness or hunger or food, just a kind of inexplicable build up that could only be released through tears. It didn't happen often but it panicked us when it did. She still cries like that sometimes, cradled in my arms. Occasionally when she's sick or overtired I still sing her to sleep in my arms. There's something magical and amazing about being there in that moment, watching your child drift off, the slow blinks, the shift in breathing. Although those wakeful years were long and sometimes hard, peaking in the first months after Una was born, I wouldn't exchange the night time memories for anything, the feel of her brow, the trembling of her lashes.


  1. Hi - I'm trying to get in touch but can't figure out to email you. Could you send me an email? And sorry you had a difficult night. But love the image of trembling eyelashes on a long dark night.

  2. Anonymous10:34 PM

    could Fred have been having nightmares? Grace went through a period of waking in the night and wouldn't be comforted until I really woke her up and then had a big snuggle. I love the feeling of her falling asleep in my arms too. It doesn't happen that often anymore and when it does I can hardly bear to put her in bed.

    Una on the other hand sounds like she was having a fine old time. Hope you get some good sleep tonight!

  3. Is your brain still in pieces? I hope you're back to a semblance of normality at least.

    Lulu just this past week has asked to forgo her end of day cuddles and instead get straight into the cot after stories. *sob* but I think she's just more tired than ever and almost too big for my arms now. I've always fed or cuddled her sto sleep, - every day slee and night sleep - it's our quiet, special 2nd child rarely alone together time. I hope we get to have a few more before she weans me completely off them.

  4. Anonymous10:44 AM

    with time we will always remember the sleepless nights fondly! I sleep squished between my sons, while my husbands in the other room with our daughter!

  5. Ha! I will not remember sleepless night fondly, I flatly refuse to, I make it my lifes work to not forget!! For that is when your defenses are down and you think, "gosh another would be nice".
    We have #2 sleeping thru now, YAY, but #1 still wants to crawl in at some awful time and snuggle, then steals 3/4 of the bed! Again, I refuse to forget, it is the best form of contraception!! :-)
    I enjoy my sleep too much, anything less then 8 hrs and I'm a zombie.
    Jacen has been hard to get to sleep since about 2, he has a hard time switching off.
    Daylin just drifts off with the contentment of a baby with a tummy full of milk... lol.