This is my happy place...
My bedroom... or more specifically my bed. Now get your mind out of the gutter, it's because this is the place where I get to sleep.
Anyone who has known me pre-children will know just how much I like my sleep. I was the girl who would sleep late, read in bed in the afternoon, take a nana-nap if I thought a big night was on the cards (or turn into a pumpkin at midnight so I could head to bed), and I would sleep so soundly, not even an earthquake would wake me.
Then came Miss D. She was a typical newborn, and we had the standard first 8 weeks of sleep deprivation, entirely expected. What I didn't expect was that she wouldn't sleep during the day either. Around the 8 week mark she started to settle a bit and we started getting glorious 5 and 6 hour stretches of sleep, she still wouldn't sleep during the day, but it was alot easier to handle with a little extra sleep under the belt at night time. But alas, it all went pear shaped at around 4 months. No sleep, ever. And it stayed that way.
D had chronic ear infections which,as we all know, are absolute agony. Always so much worse when one goes to lie down. During the day I would get her to have a small nap lying on me (something she did until I was so pregnant with Miss M that at 18 months she would no longer lie down on me and started dropping day time naps.)Night times were just impossible. I have a vivid memory of passing out on the floor next to her bed one night because I was so tired, I was about 8 months pregnant, so to say I woke up uncomfortable is an understatement.
I remember just before M was born someone asking me how I felt going back to those sleepless nights with a newborn. My answer? "How could it be any different from right now?".
It was different, M fed every two hours and at 8 months was still having several feeds during the night. She was such a hungry little monkey (incidently that hasn't changed I hear say "I'm Hoooooongry Mumma!" about a 1000 times a day). The difference was that she slept really well during the time she wasn't feeding, and so long as she was in her own bed her day time sleeps were fantastic.
M arriving, and sharing a room with D had an amazing effect on her, she began sleeping through the night. However by this time we had such a firm ingrained bed-time routine, we found that it was impossible to alter it even slightly with out getting a sleep-less night from her. This is something that has remained, and now even at 4 we find that if she has a slightly late night, sleeps in a different bed or even doesn't have a cup of milk before bed we pay for it for days.
In four years it is safe to say that we have only had a handful of full nights of sleep, most of them recently. I realise that many others have experienced, or are experiencing this now.... it's nothing new or special. What I will say though is that it has had a profound effect on Luke and I. We have both become quite sensitive about the subject of sleep. When out, we like to have dinner early, so we can get the girls home to bed at the right time. We will often have friends over for late lunch rather than dinner so we don't mess up bed time, and if we are somewhere and our kids are tired, we will leave, no questions asked. Sometimes I get cross with myself for being so regimented about it all and throw caution to the wind and mess with the routine. It always, always backfires.
There have been some upsides, now when I do nightshift I find that I can (usually) withstand a week of literally no sleep with out bursting into tears. I can function really well on so much less sleep and have discovered that there are so many more hours in the day to get things done. Most importantly, I will never again comment or pass judgement on the way another parent deals with bedtime.... I say do what you have to do to keep everyone happy. If, in this house it means that sometimes we have to cut a night out short, or leave a party because M needs a nap, to ensure a semi-decent night sleep, We will do it.It wont be forever after all.