In the Middle of the Night

In the middle of the night I am awake.
I glance at the clock; 1:36 am.

The baby is crying and kicking about. I roll over and offer my breast, adding to the rod already firmly attached my back, and hope this will settle him back to sleep. It’s cold and he’s trying to do acrobatics while sucking, then he sleeps.

I crack open one eye and lie still listening. My arm is at an awkward angle and my bare breast is freezing cold but the baby is asleep next to me. Why am I awake?

Then I hear it … “Muuuuum”
I creep quietly out of bed so as not to wake the baby and stumble into the girls’ room. Someone has had a bad dream. I offer a cuddle, a suggestion to think happy thoughts and a story CD.
I make a detour to chuck another log into the fire and I wonder of the last of the zucchinis will be ruined by the frost tomorrow.

I’m still thinking about zucchinis when I crawl back under the doona and carefully roll away from the baby and attempt to go back to sleep.
It’s 2:24 am.

At 2:47am I am still thinking about zucchinis.
Should I just cut and freeze the three giant zucs sitting on my kitchen counter or attempt to cook them all this week?
I wonder if I have blogged about that chocolate zucchini cake yet?
Then my mind wanders off into blogging mode, writing posts in my head that I will never remember in the morning.

I toss and turn and think that crazy thought that I’m sure has crossed every blogger’s mind….
Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a device to take blog posts directly from my mind as I think them!?! I could blog so much faster. Imagine how much time I’d save. But then I’d need to spend time editing my auto brain blogs because they’d be so terribly rambling and full of ridiculous side tracked thoughts…

I wonder if it will rain tomorrow…

One eye open; 3:12am.
Two eyes open, looking at the screwed up face of my baby boy.
He is crying again, I go for the magic milk cure again, but he isn’t having a bar of it. I pat his back and he relaxes for a moment…. but only for a moment. He is very sad, but oh so very tired. I try rubbing his soft soft head, massaging his feet, but nothing works.

I sit up and bring him into my arms, rocking and shh-ing and singing the wordless soothing song that just seems to come to me at these moments.

I watch him settle then wake, relax then grimace and I wonder what is bothering him.
Perhaps he is getting more teeth?
A pain in his belly?
Maybe he is getting the same cold that Izzy has?
Maybe that fall when he hit his head was worse than I thought?
Perhaps there is something terribly, horribly, wrong with him and I am the worst mother in the world for just wishing he’d bloody well go to sleep.

3:58 am
It’s the time of night when the crazies creep in and I doubt everything I ever thought I knew about everything. I remind myself of that and refuse to let the crazies get the better of me because the baby is finally asleep and I need to be asleep too.

4:06 am
The Boy child calls out from his little bed in the corner.
“No…. no…. don’t… nooooooooooo”
I realise he is not awake when I get to his bed and find him sitting up with wild but unfocused eyes.
“Shhhh… it’s ok buddy, lie down” I tell him
“no no nooooooooooo NO!” he yells but lies down and is snoring before I manage to pull the blankets over him.

The baby wakes from all the shouting. I offer milk again and this time he takes it. I lie next to him and watching him drink, my brain just won’t turn off.

It’s the worst possible thing to do when you can’t sleep, I know that, but I do it anyway.
I begin to calculate just how little sleep I’ve had so far and how little of the night there is left before I have to drag myself out of bed in the morning. I think of all the things I have to do tomorrow… today… and I wonder how I’m going to manage it all on so little sleep. But I always do I tell myself. Then I begin to wonder when last time I slept for more than a few hours at a time was? So long ago I can’t remember. I wonder how long it will be before I get a decent night’s sleep again.

Then I look down at my now sleeping baby.
He is just a baby now. A baby who can’t tell me why he isn’t sleeping. A baby who needs me to soothe him and rock him and sing the wordless song. Although these sleepless nights seem to last forever, they won’t. Before I know it he will be three and like his big brother and he will only wake occasionally. And then he will be seven like his sisters and he will rarely need me in the night. Soon he will be a teenager and he’ll never get out of bed…. Soon there will be no more ‘In the middle of the nights’, no more quiet moments watching him sleep and contemplating how lucky I am.

The baby stirs again, I rub his back and his eyes close, his breathing slows…
Now my eyes close and my breathing slows and my mind is left to wander.

I really like stripy socks, I must buy myself a pair…

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Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:

  1. says

    Oh the posts I write in my head in the middle of the night. They are fabulous, amazing, inspiring… and lost in the morning.

    One day we will sleep, and have a whole other litany of complaints *ahem* concerns about our kids ;)

  2. Michelle says

    I hear you! I am struggling some days with the lack of sleep and I only have two kids. I get so cranky when im tired and then I feel guilty when I snap, yell or overreact and that seems to be happening a lot. When I calm I realise these years are precious and I should be savouring every moment I have with them because in a blink of an eye it will be over.

  3. says

    Oh man, I needed to read this. When I say ‘needed to’, I mean needed to hear that I am not the only one lying awake in the early hours of the morning wondering why my baby can’t sleep, wondering if he’ll ever sleep, wondering if I’ll ever sleep a full night’s sleep again, composing excellent blog posts in my head that will fade by morning, listening for noises coming from the littlies’ bedroom, hearing the shift workers come home, wondering why my husband can sleep through it, wondering whether I have the ingredients for the spinach lasagne I promised the boys, lamenting my inability to relax, angry at myself for not being able to fall asleep when everyone else in the house finally manages to enter the land of nod.

    Oh yes. I’m am there with you.

  4. says

    Oh yes, can well relate, despite having only one small one instead of 4! I hope someone else will comment here and confidently tell us all that if we wait a few years it will all be different and we will have real sleep again!

  5. says

    Oh you wrote my night, except for the blogging bit. I don’t blog often enough to get that happening. I right the worlds wrongs. Work out how I’ll be a less grumpy, more cheerful mum tomorrow. love my kids harder. Write more poetry. Take better photographs. Lose some weight. *sigh* & yes the brain dump to computer would be awesome. I think my husband might be working on that project in the garage right now.

    • katef says

      oh you will be rich rich rich if your hubby invents a direct link from brain to computer!!!

  6. says

    I think about posts in the middle of the night too.. and all lost by morning… yes if only we could get that device to record our thoughts directly to the computer… if anyone could invent this Kate, it’s you!

    Sorry about your sleepless night(s).

  7. says

    Wishing you a good night’s sleep tonight Kate. In my opinion the loss of sleep is the biggest downside to parenting little ones. Of course it’s all worth it when you look at your sleeping baby, but gosh it’s hard to get through those days when you’ve been up and down all night. He is divine in that photo by the way!

    • katef says

      yes he’s gorgeous when he’s a sleep… but then all my kids are lovely when they are asleep for some reason LOL

  8. says

    oh you just made my day. I have had a hell 24 hours of baby land and you have rocked me back into remembering the well worn path we mothers walk and the excellent company we walk with – each night millions of mothers shoosh along with us, rock along with us and roll their eyes along with us. Wonderful post.

  9. says

    I loved reading this, nodded my head throughout. I have got over most of the long sleepless nights now (4 and 6 years old) But I often end up with one in my bed and they will be snoring blissfully while I lie there watching the clock, counting their breath, thinking about ridiculous things, making myself more wakeful. I’ve started giving up and reading for a while to reset my brain.

    • katef says

      reading is a really great idea…. I really struggle to fall asleep so each time I am woken it takes me ages to fall back to sleep, especially if I can’t turn my brain off.

  10. says

    Isn’t it amazing that when you know you really need to go to sleep you can’t. I have those nights when I almost dread going to sleep because I know I’m bound to be woken up 15 min after I doze off … hopefully they won’t last forever – they grow up so fast.

  11. says

    I like stripy socks too.

    The only good thing I’ve found about having such a bad sleeper is that the moment she’s quiet I drop straight off. I can go from wide awake to dead to the world and drooling within ten minutes.

  12. Tracey says

    Carl thinks you and I should sleep together (well in the same room) and then we could just talk and worry together! Told him he would be with Si then………….out in the yurt!!!!!!

  13. says

    I come up with the best ideas in the middle of the night – in my mind these pieces of writing will change the world as we know it… ;)

    The world is so lonely in the middle of the night.

  14. gerbs says

    Hi Kate,
    I read your blog all the time and love it! My three children are notoriously shocking sleepers (4, 3 and 5 months) and my nights are one big wake fest after the other. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one..sometimes I think that I am! And as an aside, I was also a Kinder teacher in Melbourne before I had my kids, so we have afew things in common!

  15. says

    My sympathies to you. I have been plagued with stress-induced insomnia ever since high school. I would lie awake worrying and thinking and go for days without having ‘proper’ sleep. I am always so envious of people I know who don’t suffer from these problems.