Croup, Caribeners and Co-sleeping

Friday 30 March 2018

Some weeks I juggle a full time job and being a mum and it feels like the most natural thing ever. The routine we have works. It’s easy to relax into. It gets stuff done and it gets us where we need to be.

I mean, on occasion I stroll into work a little late. Five minute. Tops. And this is usually when I’ve underestimated how many times I’ll have to chase Ethan up and down the hallway before he’ll submit to getting dressed without running away. Or how many morons there are on the road to slow us down and require some mum and son, team, (PG rated) road rage. And then of course, how distracted Ethan will be when we arrive at nursery and he has to help every other child out of their shoes and coat before he will let me remove his.

Largely, despite our laissez faire (which I believe is French for “winging it”) approach, we nail it. Everybody gets where they need to be at roughly the right time. Except that day I drove nearly all the way to work and forgot that (an uncharacteristically quiet) Ethan was still sat in the back of the car. But, I digress….

This week is not one of those “natural” weeks. And god knows the effect it’ll have on my blogging ability. I just tried to text “yup” to someone and ended up sending “hippo”. So wish me luck…

On Sunday night, just as I was about to close my eyes, the all too familiar barking sound came booming through the baby monitor. Followed swiftly by my (usually awesome) little sleeper bursting into uncontrollable fits tears. Punctuated by more barking.

Recurrent Croup.

And by recurrent I mean it’s only March and this is the second time this year he’s had it. I have lost count of the total times. I think my brain has tried to cope with the pain of being rudely awoken by the sound of a seal pup in distress by choosing to erase it from my memory.

I’m not afraid of much. But I live in fear of that sound. A little more dramatic than I usually care to be. But that sound means a variety of medication administered (reluctantly) through the saddest little panicked cry, several attempts and reattempts at calming him down and a sleepless night ahead. And, aside from anything else, I’m quite attached to my sleep.

Especially when on Monday there was ‘Go Ape’ in the diary. Now, I say I’m not afraid of much, but I am afraid of heights. Although when faced with taking a leap of faith from a platform in the treetops to tarzan swing into nothing but a net suspended above the forest floor, apparently lack of sleep makes me kind of fearless.

There was a couple of occasions I went to unclip myself from the wire ropes and realised that in my tired state I hadn’t double checked my carabiner and I’d just done a tightrope walk from tree to tree without my back up fastener secured. But that’s why you have a back up, right? And for the most part it was the kick up the ass I needed to check and double check it every subsequent time. Well that and the fear it ignited in me that I was responsible for whether I finished or fell. A thought I could have done without because it gave me the full body shakes on every other crossing and getting the trembles whilst attempting a series of tightropes is less than ideal. You shake, the rope shakes, the tree shakes, and you shake more. It’s really a hoot.

The fact I made it to the end of the course is either a miracle or a fluke. But the fact I was too tired to overthink it probably helped too. As terrified as I was on occasion, and as tempted as I was to duck out at the start of every course (and there were 5!), I made it all the way to the end to claim my certificate of awesomeness. Little man watched the last run from the ground and his excitable little cheers and chatter meant that was probably the quickest circuit I completed.

But anyway, I got distracted by my Go Ape achievement. I blame the memory of the adrenalin that still has me all excitable about the fact I managed to do it.

Back to today, and I sit here writing this with eyeballs that feel like I’ve been “eyeball Paul”-ing Vodka all week. Every blink is longer than normal. Every blink is dangerously close to turning into a nap. I can’t lie, every blink is sweet relief for my poor tired eyes.

It doesn’t help that my body is broken from the treetop monkeying around. I’ve used muscles I forgot I had. Even lifting my (much needed) coffee cup to my mouth is painful to accomplish. Someone bring me a straw! Because dammit I need that caffeine.

Naively I had imagined that once E started sleeping through the night I was done with feeling this level of exhaustion. I thought that the memories of the first year of his life where I never managed more than two hours of consecutive sleep were just that, memories. How the hell did I even function through that for over a year?

Sharing a bed with him involves a lot more wriggling these days. Gone are the times that my tiny little dude would snuggle his head into my chest and sleep completely still for so long that my body would lock into a rigid, protective position around him.

Co-sleeping with a toddler is nigh on impossible. Thankfully there isn’t a regular need to but when he’s crying uncontrollably and can’t breathe lying down it seems like the kindest solution to snuggle together and prop him up. Until that is, I’m just dozing off and he rolls over with all the grace and gentle touch usually reserved for a pig throwing itself into a mud bath. Or when I’m sound asleep and he switches from lovely cuddled up foetal position to starfishing with such speed and determination that I jump from the shock of being simultaneously kicked in the stomach and slapped in the face. I’ve lost count of the times I almost fell out of bed.

The alternative of him in his cot isn’t much fun either. The croup cough means that E is unintentionally ejecting his dummy at regular intervals through the night. Usually so violently that it flies to an unknown location in a far flung, darkened, dusty corner of his bedroom and he starts crying for his “dudu”. This is fine the first couple of times when there are spare dummies lying around but once the reserves run down becomes a bit more of a challenge. Crawling around on hands and knees, hunting down his comfort while he cries and splutters is possibly my least favourite 3am activity.

All in all, it’s been a challenging week. We all have them sometimes. And walking through the door yesterday night after a day at work I almost dreaded the long stretch of the four day weekend ahead of me. Imagining it spent armed with tissues, calpol and matchsticks for my eyes…

Then, that red eyed, snotty nosed, raspy voiced little boy stepped into view.

He shouted, “MUMMY!” in the same excitable little voice I get every day. Threw his arms around me. Wiped snot on my dress. And then we cuddled up on the sofa. For almost an hour past his bedtime.

Living. The. Snot-covered. Dream.