False dawns and big dreams


The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

I’m always amused by parents who say when they’re up for hours during the night with a baby who won’t sleep that it’s a chance to bond with the child.
Whatever gets you through it and, I’m all for seeing the silver lining in every cloud, but I’d much rather bond with the child during daylight hours, energised by a full night’s sleep!
At this stage we’ve the sleeping stage well cracked with Frankie and Éamon. They go to sleep at 8pm and generally wake between 7.30am and 8am. An odd time Éamon might wake at 7am but that’s a very small complaint.
Séimí though has proven a different matter entirely.
Of the three kids, his first year and a bit has been far more challenging than Frankie or Éamon’s early stages were.
Generally his sleeping routine goes like this: goes down at 8pm; wakes at 11pm to midnight, gets some bottle and goes back; wakes at 2-3am for more, goes back; wakes at 4-5am for more and might go back or decide to wait up. Even if you get him back, morning time is 6-7am and never after.
That was a good night; on bad nights he might wake every hour. Whoever sleeps with him might not be 100 percent the next day, it is fair to say.
He’s 14 months by now. By that stage Frankie had months of sleeping through the night (12 hours!) under her belt.
Éamon too had started sleeping the night though he gave us a couple of months of hell when he was around 18 months by waking every hour and often refusing to go back to sleep, even if one of us lay in the room with him.
Séimí isn’t in his own room yet – you’d no sooner be out of the room than back in it on some nights.
In recent weeks myself and Aisling have been taking it in turns to sleep with him while the other benefits from the luxury of whatever lie in Frankie or Éamon give us. It might even be 8am some days, if they’re being good to us.
But, at the risk of jinxing it, Séimí is showing signs of turning a corner.
Last Tuesday morning he woke at 3am, having skipped his midnight feed. He went back after a good feed of milk. I was on podcast duty at 8am. I set no alarm; I never need to.
But next thing I woke at 7.50am and himself still fast asleep. I snuck out of the room and he stayed asleep for another hour.
The following nights similar patterns, one, sometimes two wake-ups, but the sleeping blocks were much greater as has been the time he wakes up in the morning – now generally between 8-9am.
Of course we must tread with caution. It could be a temporary hiatus, but the dreamer in us is hoping a corner has turned.

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.

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