Tantrums, tiredness and turning it around

Thursday 09 February 2017

A few weeks ago Mark and I reached a zombie like state of sleep deprivation. Ethan developed a hatred for his cot so furious that even if he was fast asleep and snoring in our arms all the way up the stairs, as soon as we approached his bedroom door, ping! The eyes were open and all hell broke loose. It led to another occasion of something we said we’d never do as parents. Co-sleeping.

Mark and I share a double bed. When I think back to the days we squeezed into a single just so we could spend the night cuddled up together at university our bed feels like a super king. Chuck a wriggly baby into the equation and add the fact that he likes to spin 90 degrees at random moments through the night and suddenly it’s like trying to sleep in a single all over again. Co-sleeping seems like the ideal solution to get some shut eye when your baby will snooze cuddled into your skin but nowhere else. The reality of trying to do it in a “three in a bed” type situation is much less co-sleeping and more he-sleeps-while-we-lose-our-temper.

In our sleepy state it took us perhaps a week – maybe two – and Mark getting poorly (Mark never gets poorly!) to realise that it wasn’t working. We both had chronic back ache from tiny limbs prodding us into awkward sleeping positions and worst of all, even when he was sleeping (starfished) between us, we were largely just awake and tutting at each other or ready to fall out of the bed.

It felt like we had tried everything. An upgrade on his Sleepyhead Deluxe, various teething pain remedies, soft toys, music, night lights, glow in the dark dummies, a warmer room, a cooler room, a bigger supper before bed. Finally, exhausted, I decided to read a sleeping guide that a friend had emailed and nearly cried when I realised our only remaining option. Another thing we said we’d never do. Letting him cry.

I don’t know why I’m sounding so defensive about it. Skip forward a week and I’m wondering why we didn’t do it sooner. Admittedly the first night was hard. Listening to my baby cry – even just for a short while – and doing nothing about it (even if I do know he has everything he needs) physically pained me. But every week we’ve had another improvement. From the crying stopping, to him actually wanting to go to bed and even – the last two weeks or so – him actually sleeping through! So, I’m proud (and only a little defensive) when I say, it’s worked for us. For now anyway.

The changes in him over the last few weeks have been phenomenal. I’d like to attribute it to his new found love of getting his 12 hours of sleep but perhaps that’s going a little too far. But he’s confidently walking, he’s started trying to chat (even if “mumma” is still his ‘go to’ word!), he has us racing up and down the stairs and running lengths of the house pointing at things he wants to look at or play with and the giggles and feedback you get from him when initiating play are off the charts adorable.

We strolled into nursery today to be greeted by a member of staff (not one I even recognise from his baby room) cheering “ETHAN! There’s that lovely smile.”

At the handover point we no longer have tears about leaving mummy, instead we throw ourselves at the lovely lady who greets us with an enthusiasm I’ve only ever seen Ethan show for our dog before. Although, if I’m honest, I think the crying at goodbye hurt mummy less than the new found excitement at being handed over.

It pains me to say that it appears his cheeriness and newly well rested state are being noticed elsewhere too. Yes. You heard it here first. Ethan has a girlfriend. His keyworker broke the news to me, along with his girlfriend’s mum, one evening at pick up. His dad seemed proud. I am heartbroken! Where on Earth has my new born gone? Next week he turns one. And I am simultaneously super excited to celebrate his first birthday and slightly emotional that a year has disappeared from under us in the blink of an eye.

He’ll be packing his bags and wanting to move out before I know it, wahhhhhhhh!