Friday, 23 September 2016

Bring on the night, bring on sleep.

My boys sleep through the night.

It's not always easy - sometimes it's a rigmarole with endless drinks of water, tucking in of teddy bears and philosophical discussions. In the end though it's a night of peace. 

If you don't have kids you will have no opinion about this. You might be kind and nod and say, "Oh that's good." As a parent you will either grit your teeth at the temerity of my boast or shrug and think, "well that hardly merits a blog post does it ?"

When Blue Bear first came to live with us he didn't sleep well. The first night both boys went to sleep by 8pm and Hubbie and I were fist bumping each other and thinking the top prize for parenting was ours for the taking. We were just about to sit down to eat and we heard a cry from Blue Bear. He was awake and he was not happy about it. For the next two hours we tried everything we could to get him back to sleep. I lay down with him, Hubbie lay down with him, we put on soothing music, we offered milk and eventually I did what I never did with Brown Bear. I put him in the car and drove around to try and soothe him. It was exhausting.

After that first night his nocturnal stirrings became a regular thing for us. We had set up the cot next to our bed and he slept next to me. Often he woke up crying, screaming, hitting out or reaching out for a dummy or a touch on his head to settle him. We found out he was terrified of the dark, so we put a light on for him. Over time he would turn to check I was still there and I'd feel a small hand reach out for me so I'd sleep as close to his face as I could so he would see me. 

We moved Blue Bear into his own room and when settling him to sleep one of us would lie on the floor next to his bed to reassure him he wasn't alone. I would put him down to nap during the day and have to lie down too. In fact the afternoon rest came as a relief after months of sleepless nights. 

The night waking became so regular that even Brown Bear - who has always been an early riser - started to sleep in. He would struggle to get up in the morning and was tired and tearful during the day. At times Blue Bear would scream because he's lost his dummy. Other times he'd be distressed and sitting up unable to express why he was so upset. Then if Brown Bear woke up we'd have two boys to try and get back to sleep. Some mornings both boys would be in our bed and Hubbie would be asleep somewhere else. He still had to go to work and do a full day on very little sleep.

I can't pinpoint when it changed. Maybe it was when we moved him out of a cot and into a toddler bed. He was able to get out by himself so maybe he didn't feel so confined. Brown Bear has a raised bed now and loves the fact that no one else can get up there, but him.

It was only in the last few days I realised that sometimes I have to go in and wake up Blue Bear. He sleeps soundly and wakes up smiling. I like to believe he knows where he is and is happy to be there. That he loves the teddy bears on his bed, the soft light in his room, the plaintive miaowing from Neo to be let out or fed. Brown Bear wakes up early, but plays with lego or goes downstairs to eat breakfast with Daddy before he leaves for work.

Yes there are still nights when Blue Bear wakes up, but he goes back to sleep pretty quickly and without me having to drive him around the neighbourhood.  

At one time it felt like it would never end - like we'd never get through it. But we did.

So when I say that my boys sleep through, please believe that it's not a boast. It's a relief.

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