For the last two nights, R has gone to sleep almost immediately after I left the room. She hasn’t called out Mummy (or Dorothy) three or four times. She hasn’t needed a wee or a pooh and then sat on the potty for five minutes doing neither (actually, she did need a wee, but that was before I’d properly left the room and she did actually do one). She hasn’t tried to go to sleep for five minutes and been quiet as a mouse, making me believe she’s gone to sleep, but giggling like a teenager when I walk past her door. She hasn’t jumped out of bed and run to our room five times, laughing like an evil mastermind, who is succeeding in a plot to take over the world. She hasn’t required her dad (who can do a much more authoritative voice than I can) to take over, because I am failing so miserably (though she has been warned that he will take over if she does try to mess about).
She’s just gone to sleep. Within half a chapter of my book, I have heard her snoring.
The night before last she didn’t wake up at all throughout the night. Last night she did wake up – bad dream – but was back to sleep within about two minutes. Not ten minutes. Not an hour. Not having woken both of us up and made his really grumpy and tired. I’m fairly sure that, earlier in the night, I heard a wake up a couple of times and go straight back to sleep. All by herself.
I have no idea whether this is the start of things to come and we have somehow, finally, managed to help her to sleep well (or she’s just got there on her own), or whether it’s just a brief and pleasant blip in the nightly struggle that is bedtime. But it’s given me a glimpse of possibilities. Possibilities of changes similar to those that came when the daytime nap disappeared and she started going to bed at around 8pm instead of 10.30pm.
When that happened (about six months ago now, I think), we suddenly had evenings. The bedtime routine took about an hour or an hour and a half, instead of three. The person putting her to sleep could go downstairs afterwards and do things, rather than collapse into bed the minute she fell asleep. I took up ironing (giving me the excuse to watch old episodes of ER on DVD), C often works in the evenings or is able to relax and play LoTR for a decent chunk of time, we’ve occasionally sat downstairs together and watched a film, we’ve been able to go out like normal people, after she has gone to sleep (instead of having someone look after until 10pm, then returning to put her to sleep ourselves).
If she can finally manage to sleep through the night (or get herself back to sleep easily if she does wake up), I might be able to get up a couple of hours before she wakes up and do some work, or some writing, or something. I always used to be a morning person. I would usually get up at 5 or 6am and I would have a few hours’ work done before the phone started ringing or the emails started coming in. I would be at my best in those early hours, doing my most creative or intellectual work tasks then and leaving the more mundane, repetitive tasks for the early afternoon.
But these days I don’t wake up until R does and then I’m lucky if I can muster the energy to read her books and play with her, rather than just switch the TV on while I drink two or three cups of tea, read things on the Internet and attempt to wake up. I sometimes manage to empty and/or fill the dishwasher and occasionally put a load of washing on. I’m usually woken up at least a couple of times during the night and usually somewhere around 4.30 when I can’t just get up after she finally goes back to sleep, but have to go back to sleep myself. And I no longer have those fantastic breastfeeding hormones that allow you to survive on lots of small chunks of sleep.
Will I turn back into a morning person when (if?) she finally manages to start sleeping through the night on a regular basis? Or will I be catching up on the last few years of not enough sleep and still sleep in until she wakes up? I really hope I get to find out!