There are few things better than having your baby asleep peacefully in the next room. Not because it's preferable to having them awake - though this may occasionally be true - but because you know you have done your job.
Sleep. Only a parent can understand the sheer gravitas of slumber. We've had our fair share of shattered nights and I have shouldered much of the burden of night feeds, but in general Felix has been a good sleeper from the outset. I credit this largely to him being in a solid routine and to the tactic of feeding in enough milk that it's spilling back out of him by the end of the feed. Empty belly, no sleepy. I know couples who have really battled
with the issue. With babies who simply would not sleep, or would
only sleep in the day, or in twenty minute intervals. Others seem to
have acquired babies who sleep right through the night from 8 weeks
onwards, which to me seems
nothing short of miraculous. Felix is somewhere between the two. Always
able to manage a stoical four hours, occasionally batting it out of the
ballpark with a massive eight.
Sleep. Only a parent can appreciate how precious it is. I'm not talking about baby's sleep but yours. Having a baby throws a giant spanner in the lie-in factory. Suddenly a lazy morning constitutes anything after - or even near - 8am. Languorous days spent in bed are a distant memory, and occasional late nights out are severely punished by sleep deprivation the following day.
I recently awoke to a room filled with the clear light of morning and an unfamiliar sensation of well restedness. Had I fed him and forgotten? Nope, a full bottle glared at me from the dresser. An avalanche of fear swept over me as I leapt from the bed and peered down into the cot, every nightmare scenario playing simultaneously through my mind. The sight that met my eyes was the sweetest imaginable. A pair of sea-blue eyes twinkled back at me and his little body wriggled with pleasure. 'Hello Mummy' he seemed to be saying, I'm awake and it's a new day and it's lovely to see you! At that moment I swore I would never again complain about lack of sleep, that I would try to celebrate every waking up and give thanks to God for a happy, healthy baby whose evident delight in seeing me is a tonic to the soul. This resolution, however admirable, does not mean I feel less tired. There are days when a dull ache squats behind my eyes like a sullen toad. My solution, perhaps paradoxically, is exercise. Not a day goes by that I don't take Felix for a walk to the park or down the river. Weather conditions recently have been extreme; mighty winds, sudden storms, vicious hail and drenching rains have been punctuated by bursts of brilliant sunshine. One day I saw not one but two rainbows. Any day that has two rainbows is a good one.
Sleep. Perhaps ironically I dream of it. Now and then, when Felix sleeps through the night, I savour the feeling of having had a full nights worth as a sommelier would a fine wine. Yet no vintage could taste as good as sleep feels. Oh the sweet caress of the duvet, the yielding softness of the pillow, the sheer relief of being horizontal. Mr Sandman, never was a dream so sweet...