In the words of Sheryl Crow 'No one said it would be easy, but no one said it'd be this hard'. At times in the last few weeks, I have felt I'm swimming against an eternal tide, one that has taken on the force and brutality of a tsunami.
Felix has entered a twilight zone of sleep, and it's scarier than any horror flick. Mr Sandman has gone MIA, and with it my sanity. One night a fortnight ago I counted ten wake ups before the grey light of dawn crept around the sides of our improvised blackout. We have tried everything; more milk, more food, earlier bedtime, later bedtime, even a certain amount of controlled crying, though in a one bedroom place this quickly becomes a nightmare. I have spent several nights on the sofa and read all manner of articles regarding sleep regression, but the timing of his fuck up - between 6 and 7 months - does not correspond with the 8 month regression many seem to experience.
Naturally, as ever with this kind of thing, the worst period corresponded with me accepting a role as Gallery Manager of Dadbrook Gallery. Suddenly I had a job to do. Broken nights and zombie days were followed by evenings on the computer; writing emails, hammering social media, contacting artists. Although over the moon about my new role, I fast discovered that consistent sleep deprivation can temper any amount of excitement. The saving grace was that daddy had a fortnight off work. We fell into a pattern; I did the graveyard shift whilst he rose with Felix and the sun.
As it has been a full four weeks since I last posted a lot has happened. Felix is about to enter his eight month and his sleep has improved. No miracle cure, but a permanent and strictly enforced change to his routine. After much tweaking we have come up with a dinner/bath/bedtime routine that seems to deliver results, although as prone to fluctuation and sudden spikes and crashes as the bloody stock market. In essence, in order to get him to sleep from roughly 7pm to 7am, albeit with at least one night feed - the twelve hour uninterrupted sleep remains a mirage - he needs to have a lot of food in his system. Thus mummy stuffs him with a generous portion of mush dinner (sometimes homemade, sometimes shop bought, I love thee Hipp Organic) followed by a whole mashed banana. Yep, a whole one. Turns out Felix has an infinite capacity for ingesting banana on top of his regular dinner, and perhaps unsurprisingly this seems to keep him full for several hours. This treat is followed by a lovely relaxing bathtime with daddy. A plethora of floating pals descend on the tub to shrieks of joy, the favourite being a wind-up green frog whose limbs are chewed with enthusiasm. Mr Blue, a cornflower rubber ducky, comes a close second, and a small but satisfyingly chewy starfish is also favoured. We also have a wall mounted frog whose legs dance and bow tie spins when water is poured in, and a floating rainbow Xylophone. As you do.
Post bath it's time for night milk. As advised by the community midwife, a weaning baby needs food not milk to keep them full, especially a chunky beast like Felix who is officially on three meals a day (four if you count park snacks like apples and rusks) However they still need their full complement of milk, so once enveloped in his sleeping bag a bottle of milk is guzzled. And then it's anyone’s guess. Tonight he went down like a dream, drunk on milk and out like a light. Other nights we have had half an hour of frenzied screaming and cot gymnastics, for Felix has well and truly mastered rolling and crawling. Fabulous for daytime, not so good at night, when the last thing you want to see is a baby up on all fours and rocking furiously back and forth.His preferred sleeping position is now on his front, bum in the air, face planted in the mattress. After 7 months of sleeping on his back, it is very disconcerting to see your baby upended in bed like a crashed plane, but I'm getting used to it. The only problem is that to get to sleep on his front takes a while of aforementioned rocking and crawling, until fatigue sets in or a last drink of milk pushes him over the edge. Babies; just as you get used to one thing they are on to the next. The rate of development is truly terrifying, a rollercoaster ride with no safety bars and no idea what’s ahead. And, despite having had to interrupt writing the end of this entry twice, I never want to get off.