Every night for the last week or so Pords has woken for a feed every couple of hours. When Pickles was a baby, frequent night wakings were the norm so we established a routine of sorts and just got on with it. Pords, on the other hand, has been a fairly good sleeper from the get go and had settled into fairly long stretches overnight as well as having great day naps. So, on top of the recent bouts of flu, it has come of a bit of a shock to the system to be so sleep deprived. Of course, it is our choice to respond to her at night. Plenty of people would advise to let her cry it out to help her learn to sleep through. Given that we have made the conscious decision to be responsive to night wakings, I know that these periods of sleep deprivation are something that we have to accept. It’s easier this time around because we know it doesn’t last forever. After we got up to him like clockwork every three hours for the best part of a year Pickles is now, other than the odd lapse, a terrific sleeper. Twelve hours through the night and two or three hours during the day. Knowing that doesn’t always help when I have to get up again to Pords at 3am. The thing is, and don’t tell this to my cranky 3am self, I also know that I’ll miss getting up to her.
There is something peculiarly magical about it just being you and your baby awake in a sleeping world. The closeness, the cuddles, the quiet. The tough part is the waking itself, and boy can it be tough, but once you’re over that hurdle and just admiring this small bundle of perfection, it’s such a special time. During the day there is always something else pulling you this way or that. Especially when you have a toddler to think about too, there are so many things you could be doing, or should be doing, that just sitting in total silence with your baby can be a luxury. Sometimes I want to go in to see Pickles and have those midnight cuddles with him too. At the time it can seem like you’ll never get a decent sleep again, but you will and then you might wonder why you didn’t appreciate all those beautiful moments.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not totally deluded. I spend more time than I care to admit considering whether to book a night in a motel and head straight there as soon as my husband steps in the door at night without so much as a by your leave. When you’ve been up all night with a baby, it can be hard to match a toddler’s energy during the day. Pickles travels everywhere at high speeds and is highly adventurous. When we go to the park he enjoys exploring every inch of the surrounding trees, bushes, creek beds, and generally anything other than the specifically safety designed play equipment that has been so painstakingly constructed to attract and stimulate a child’s interest. He brings a whole new meaning to the expression to leave no stone unturned. He literally picks up every stone and tries to sell them to other kids, or to me. The going rate seems to be two dollars. He’ll travel far and wide for his wares too. When I’m chasing after him while carrying Pords, back aching, I sometimes fantasise about life with one of those fabled sit-still-toddlers. What if he spent his time at the park going up and down the slide? What if, when we were at home, he sat and watched a dvd the whole way through? Then I get a glimpse of that cheeky grin, that mischievous twinkle of the eye before he dashes off to the next thing, and I banish the thought.
There is nothing like a toddler for making you feel incredibly old, and then in an instant incredibly young. Often if he sees me sitting down spaced out, Pickles will grab my hands and yell “Dance!” No matter how tired I am, it makes my heart sing so I get up. Then he adopts this furiously intense face and stomps his feet as fast as he can. If I don’t follow suit immediately again he’ll shout “Dance! Mummy, dance!” and continue the fervent stomping. They really should get this kid into offices as a remedy to sedentary workplaces. Jones at work station two hasn’t been out of his seat all morning and is starting to feel sluggish, send in Pickles: “Dance, Jones, dance!” A million tiny stomps later and Jones will be re-energised for the day. There are so many times where running after him has left me feeling like I’ve got nothing left to give, but when someone that adorable takes your hands, looks you in the eye with an explosion of eagerness and insists you dance, there is nothing for it but to just dance. One day I’ll miss it like crazy.