Sometimes, I don't hear my alarm clock. It can beep and beep until my groggy husband fumbles around on my nightstand, knocking the box of tissues into the wastebasket before he manages to hit the snooze button. I could pretend that I am sleeping deeply, dreaming of tropical islands or subconsciously solving the mystery of the missing library book, but I’m usually not.
Nope, I am awake and out of bed and tending to the needs of one of my short people.
Why? Because kids kinda need things 24/7 and, most of the time they can't reach what they need. Or they need comfort and clearly aren't making the cut in the sport of self-soothing. Honestly, I have to admit that I can't even blame the sleepless nights of the last week entirely on the babies. In fact, one of my twins is currently my favorite child because she is the only one who hasn't woken me during third-shift hours this week.
Have you noticed that the second most popular question people ask you when you have an infant (or infants) is "Are they sleeping all night yet?" The first question is "Is it a boy or a girl?" Well, I’m pretty sure that the child in the pink sleeper who is chewing on the edge of a pink blanket and who has a very girly flower name really IS a boy.
Anyway, parents compare notes on this. It's some sort of competition – and I'm not sure exactly who the winner is. Some parents think you win if your child is sleeping; they ask you what kind of voodoo mojo you have and try rubbing your wee one's bald head for some good magic. Others clearly win this game if they are up more than you do because in their mind, the goal is to be the parent who can function best on the least amount of sleep.
I can't tell you what the magic answer is because I truly believe that it is all up to your child. Not all adults are great sleepers, why should all kids be? I've got four kids who have all had completely different sleeping styles:
- Child #1, male: slept like a rock unless he had an ear infection. Had approximately 15 ear infections between 4 months and 2 years of age. Took a 4am feeding until he was 9 months old, but was no problem to get to bed.
- Child #2, female: decided at around 4 months that she greatly preferred the breast to breastmilk in a bottle, refused bottles at daycare other than to take the smallest amount possible to keep her from gnawing her own fingers off. Nursed all night long for 13 months while I slept in a rocker. Holy cow, was that a long year…
- Child #3, female: slept through the night at 11 weeks. Sleeps even better now that she rolls herself onto her tummy. I figure that if she can get there on her own, I can't do much about it because I won't stand next to the crib and roll her back all night long.
- Child #4, female (and my current favorite): slept through the night at 11 weeks. Yes, you read that right – my twins started sleeping through the night simultaneously for some completely unknown reason. I'm not complaining and really hoping I haven't jinxed myself by writing this.
So you'd think that the last week would have been pretty easy at night. Yeah, it wasn't. My four-year-old daughter has decided that if she gets up to use the bathroom at night, she is afraid of her room and can't sleep in her bed, so I lay down beside her until she sleeps. One of the twins had an ear infection and the antibiotics were making her tummy gurgle, so she'd wake up with gas.
And the kicker? My sleeps-like-a-rock son charged into our room at 5:00 the other morning, flipping on the light and announcing in a very loud and exuberant voice, "My tooth came out!" Breaking news, indeed.
So, if you happen to come across one of the dreams I was supposed to have had in the last week, please send it my way. It might have to wait in line for a while, but I promise to get it back in the queue as soon as I can. Especially if it was the "mommy finds the missing library book" one.