The Night

Every night we have a plan. Most nights it is executed flawlessly. It is a dance where someone cries or calls out and we both go stiff. One person touching the other with a firm hand.

“Don’t move,” the firm hand says. “Don’t breath. Don’t cough. Don’t crinkle the sheets. Wait.”

We listen. Is the voice muffled? Are they laying down? Are they covered? Or are they sitting up? Do you see her eyes peeking above the crib? I see almost nothing it is so dark. Is she getting too loud? Will she wake her brother? Is she moving in the crib because he is getting too loud?

Sometimes they settle and I fall back asleep without even knowing. Most of the time the firm hand becomes a pat.

Parents ACTIVATE.

And even then it is a seamless dance that most of the time interrupts sleep very little. Or maybe it is just something we’ve gotten used to. The 11 pm freeze, 4am wake up, the 6am alarm.

And then other times It’s 2:30 am and I’m cradling my 24 lb 10 month old like she’s a tiny baby, her giant noggin nestled into the crook of my elbow, and I’m humming and swaying and humming and swaying. And I close my eyes and sway and think actual thoughts that go like this, “Could I sleep standing up?” And I’m impressed with my ability to hold her like that and rock and sway and hum, because she is heavy, but my arms can take it. They can take it now. I mentally pat myself on the back for all of those recent pushups.

And I’m tired. I am so tired. And of course I’m also on my period. The new mother-of-2-periods that threaten to wash me away every month. And I’m swaying with my feet rooted firmly in the ground, in the very dark night, humming, and all the while feeling with certainty that my overnight pad is over flowing, but there is absolutely nothing I can do about. And I don’t know a more glaring image of motherhood than this.

All the while, Kamel is in with the toddler who is awake because who knows. Maybe because he got a new pillow yesterday. Maybe because his little sister will not stop crying. But I’ve bought Kamel some time, I think. If I can sway and keep her silent for thirty minutes I bet Gabe will go to sleep and then we can handle whatever insanity is happening with Fae.

This is not the first time we’re up with them. This is the third, maybe? But in the night you lose count. In the night you are just hoping that each time is the one and only, the last, the fluke.

Before this moment we had both given up. Gabe was crying out for the 4th time, Fae was crying in her crib, and we both burrowed under our pillows and hoped they would just exhaust each other. Maybe we can wait it out? But it just got worse.

In the night teamwork is paramount. Being on each other’s side, regrouping, and knowing when to throw in the towel. Ever night can’t be a winner, sometimes the game plan is thrown out the window. And you’re standing in your bedroom, being ruled by a tiny dictator who wants to only be held like a baby and swayed and hummed at. Tomorrow will be better.

**Editor note: Eventually I gave up, and Fae cried in her crib for 20 minutes until I brought Gabe a new pillow in his bedroom and Kamel took Fae, I took Gabriel to the bathroom, and finally got him settled in bed. The evening ended with both Kamel and I on the couch in the living room while Fae cried and passed out with multiple limbs sticking out of the slats of her crib. Because I am a ninja, I was able to stick those limbs back inside the crib without waking her up. And we got a solid 3 hours a sleep. The end.

10 thoughts on “The Night”

  1. While my husband is gone for work most of my nights end with me sandwiched between two boys because the baby won’t sleep in his bed and the toddler crawls into mine in the middle of the night. If I’m lucky, we’ll all sleep. I would love to get the baby into his bed, but until I’m not the only parent around, I’m scared to try in case his crying wakes up the toddler and then no one sleeps. One of these days, maybe.

    Hang in there. Some day they’ll be teenagers and you’ll be pulling them out of bed at noon. At least that is what I tell myself. (Though, I’m sure I’ll miss the baby snuggles then.)

  2. Ahhhh the nighttime! I only have one but still it’s exhausting. I keep trying to tell myself that someday I will miss being able to hold and cuddle her, and that somehow being awake and having this nighttime moment is a gift. Sometimes I succeed… sometimes not!

    Hang in there!

  3. Omg crazy!!!

    Co-sleeping for the win man! So easy to just snuggle up or give them boob without fully waking you up. Yummy!

    I wouldn’t be able to handle babies crying in their cribs 🙁

    Can’t even handle my puppies crying.
    We’re just naturally attachment parenting I guess.. For puppies, babies, kitties, all of the above. Hahahah.

    1. I wish I could tell you co-sleeping solves all problems, but it definitely does not. Sleep is a tough one, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with attachment vs not. Even the best, most amazing parents find themselves with sleepless nights.

    2. I mean, that’s all well and good, but are you going to have a 2 year old sleep in bed with you every single night? if you have multiple kids, are you all going to pile in? Also, what about naps? You can’t just leave a baby unattended in bed, especially once they start rolling, so there is going to be some crying in cribs at some point.

      Co-sleeping is great for some families, but it doesn’t solve all problems and there is always going to be some crying. It’s what babies do.

    3. I wish this had been true for my family, but it was not. I’m sure it’s really nice when all the right things click into place — for example, having breastfeeding work for you (it did not for me). Not only that, but babies cry — they will cry if they’re in bed with you, they will cry in a crib. It’s how they communicate, and they communicate no matter where they are. They will cry when they’re attached to you, they will cry when they aren’t. A crying baby doesn’t mean they aren’t attached. It means they’re communicating.

    4. and cosleeping so depends on the kid. My son loved cosleeping and though we didn’t intend to we did it exclusively for 6 months until he didn’t like it anymore. Just assumed we’d do the same with my daughter…nope she hates it. Give me boob okay now I need my space to sleep.

  4. Oh this brings back memories. Well, minus the toddler bit, of course. I don’t know how I could possibly manage that logistically and yet there’s that tiny part of my heart that yearns anyway.

    We were doing so well with sleep at night in the crib, we’d had a good long stretch of nights, and then last night my poor JuggerBaby kept sitting up and crying the cry of heartbreak. It brought back those nights of holding hir in the living room, rocking, swaying, dancing, shushing, hoping ze wouldn’t wake up hir tired papa who still had to drive to work the next day. But I put hir on my chest and snuggled into bed, and mercy for mothers, ze settled down and tried to sleep. Ended up sliding off me and sliding with head abutting my ribs for an hour after which we got hir back into the crib ok.

    Lost sleep is the worst but that was by far one of the less painful cries in the night.

  5. I feel you on this struggle so much. We finally sleep trained Jack at just under a year and the kid who had never slept through the night became a solid sleeper; for a minute then he learned how to climb out of his crib and so we switched to a toddler bed which is just a mess. We have it figured out now but it takes a nice dance to get him to sleep each night.

    Claudia used to love her sleep and now she’s decided she can do without. Having just turned a year we thought ok we’ll finally be consistent on the cry it out for all the middle of the night wakeups…turns out she gets pissed quickly and is loud enough to wake the toddler and then we’re like well what the hell do we do now. So we’ve been sticking her between us and the only person sleeping soundly is her but at least its sleep. Normally if she’ll just go to sleep I can transfer back to the crib after an hour or so and everything’s okay for the next few hours but there are also nights its just a waste of my time/patience to even try.

    Ugh sleep. Having 2 kids is soo great but the lack of sleep is exhausting; though they make up for it with how much they love each other. 🙂

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