Hell to heaven


The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

I don’t think we fully appreciated just how hard it was with Séimí’s sleeping until he mastered it. These past few weeks we don’t know ourselves.
Tuesday, June 7, was the first night since he was born that Séimí slept the full night without waking. I’ll always remember it and the feeling the next morning of cautious optimism. Have we turned a corner? We better not get ahead of ourselves and brace ourselves for a return to the old way!
But day turned to night again, and again and Séimí kept doing his new thing. It has not reached the the stage that I feel confident about declaring it.
Some nights he might wake up once, but will go back to sleep easily after a bottle.
It is a world removed from the way things were.
The situation had gotten progressively worse. It’s only when I stand back and look at it with a clear mind that I realise just how bad. I think we were suffering from Stockholm Syndrome and accepted it as a reality.
Séimí used to wake maybe twice a night, but the three months before he turned this corner were far worse. He had Covid in April and followed that with a bad throat and mouth infection, so we think these illnesses combined to unsettle him even more.
Some nights it was taking two hours of a struggle to get him down – and we weren’t putting him down too early. He would sleep soundly until midnight, but from there to the morning was hellish.
A good night was him waking every two hours. The bad nights, which were growing in frequency, could see him waking every 30 minutes, settling back after five minutes, but by the time you got back to sleep, he was waking again.
Myself and Aisling were taking turns so at least one of us was spared the nighttime torture and could take the three kids in the morning so the other might get some sort of early morning sleep.
The less sleep we were getting, the harder it was to think clearly and find our way out of the fog.
In the end it was probably a combination of factors that changed the game. Moving him into a new bedroom, cutting down his bottle intake, giving him porridge last thing at night and capping his daytime nap to one hour all helped.
We had to do none of that with Frankie and Éamon. We were spoiled with them, even if we didn’t appreciate it at the time.
The difference in mood and energy levels since June 7 have been profound. I cannot describe the relief. (My old colleague Danny Carey will criticise me for that – you’re a journalist, Ed, you’re job is to describe things!)
Séimí is still proving a little bit difficult to get off to sleep at night, but it is easy to persevere when you know you can look forward to a couple of hours relaxing that night and a normal night’s sleep. It’s heaven.

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