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Sleepless in Achill


The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

There’s a story often told around Castlebar about the new roundabout on the Breaffy Road, just past Harvey Norman. Well, it’s not new, in the sense it has been open for ten years, but the only turnoff on it from the main road to Breaffy is to the IDA Park, and that has been closed off pretty much all of that time.
So it is one of the more pointless pieces of infrastructure going. Particularly so for one local man. The roundabout wasn’t long there when this well-known character crashed right into it.
His answer to why he crashed into a very big and obvious roundabout has gone down in local legend. “No one told me it was there.” Indeed.
It kind of feels like that with Éamon these past few weeks. Nobody told us just how hard it can be when you have a child who can, at the drop of a hat, start crying; wake up several times during the night; and generally make life very difficult for his parents.
His older sister Frankie was like driving on a motorway, full steam right ahead, in cruise control. From three months on, she has slept like a dream, never getting up once during the night.
We sort of knew we had it lucky, and were nearly wary of telling friends about her when we would hear their horror stories, for two reasons: 1, not wishing to rub it in, and 2, fearing they simply would not believe us. We could easily come across as the parenting equivalent of the social media prancers who only project the very best of their lives, and not the reality.
But Frankie really was a dream. Her brother is a different matter.
Lulled as we were into a false sense of security, we thought Éamon would also be an angel.
If you keep your eyes on the road ahead you should be able to see the trouble coming, but. like our man in Castlebar, it’s exactly when you think you know all the local roads that you go into autopilot and you crash into a roundabout that has no earthly reason for existing.
So here we are with Éamon, seven months old and completely out of any routine – and driving his parents out of their minds.
Getting a good night’s sleep is wishful thinking a lot of the time. Éamon will wake as often as he likes during the night. The trick is to get to him before he wakes too much and so won’t go back down easily. Trouble is, I’m a deeper sleeper than Aisling, so it’s she that rises to get to him in time. If she was waiting for me, Éamon would be wide awake and ready for the day, regardless of whether it is 2am, 4am or 6am.
It’s a catch 22 though, because when your this exhausted from the situation, it is hard to stand back and work out what you need to do to change things. But change we must.
And in the mean time, we’ll try to avoid any new roundabouts that a council engineer with no regard for sleep deprived parents might place in our way.
> In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.