We’ve been battling inconsistent sleep patterns with The Halfling for about 4 months now. Every now and then she has a brilliant night and you think to yourself, “maybe she’s finally turning a corner and her sleep is getting better.” Most nights she sleeps solidly for the first 3 and a half hours and then becomes increasingly restless until dawn. But every once in a while, she has a night where you feel like it would be preferable to stowaway on a SpaceX rocket and seek refugee status on Mars.
I know that’s probably how my wife felt in the early hours of this morning when I, hitherto asleep in the main bedroom, awoke at 1 am to The Halfling midway through her rendition of the Anvil Chorus from Giuseppe Verdi’s 1853 opera, Il trovatore. It always amazes me just how much noise such a tiny person can produce (from both ends, mind you). I am a solid sleeper. I could sleep through a nuclear holocaust, but apparently my daughter’s lungs contain more earth-shattering power than Tsar Bomba because she took me out of REM from a whole other part of our home. My wife who was in the nursery with her must have been at her wits end, and if our neighbours didn’t hate us before, I’m sure they do now.
I got up several times and stood outside the nursery door, contemplating whether or not I should go in to settle her. I hesitated because I think running to pick her up every time she cries during the night only serves to reinforce her dependency on physical contact to fall asleep. On the other hand, she is more than capable of belting out the song of her people for 4 solid hours, losing her voice in the process, then continuing to warble away for another 4 hours in rasping, dissonant chords.
According to Wikipedia, ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ is a euphemism for the U.S. government’s program of the systematic torture of detainees by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), with sleep deprivation included as one of the methods used. In other words, the CIA simulates parenthood in order to torture and forcibly extract information from terrorists!
I remember driving to work on my first day after returning from paternity leave and almost taking out an entire section of the Buckinghamshire stretch of the M40 Mortorway during my commute. As challenging as I have found it operating on far less sleep than ideal, I know my wife has it harder. I can’t imagine that at any point today while my wife has been at home, that she’s had a chance to recoup any of the sleep she missed out on last night, but will have to face doing it all over again tonight.
There are people who will say, “sleep when your baby sleeps”, but they obviously have never had kids of their own. And if they do have kids, then it was clearly such a traumatic experience that their brain blocked out the memories of what it was actually like in that first year, otherwise they would know such statements are about as useful as vegan cheese on a pepperoni pizza.
I realised I have, in this one blog post alone, used extra-planetary decampment, forced rendition of terror suspects, state-sanctioned torture and the most powerful explosive device ever detonated to describe night-time at our house. It’s really not that bad, I promise. But sometimes in the moment, when you start to lose perspective, it can seem as though it is.
It’s that time of night again and my wife has retreated to the main bedroom to try and secure a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep while I hold down the fort. The Halfling finished her bedtime protest a few moments ago… No, wait, I jinxed it. She’s wailing like a banshee again so I guess I’ll go in a few minutes to reassure her that we didn’t actually follow through on the earlier threat to abscond to Mars. I have no idea what tonight will be like, but fingers crossed we can all get a little more sleep than the night previous.