There are occasions when I really think I can't do this. Those occasions are almost always in the middle of the night.
Maggie has been awake since 11.30pm. It's now almost 4am and she's still up there, still not sleeping. She's been fed, she's been changed, she's been cuddled and rocked and patted and soothed and she's still not sleeping. I wish this was atypical. But it isn't.
Over at Mama Lewis, Stacie and her husband are trying what they call The Sleep Experiment. As far as I can tell, this is essentially treating her daughter, May, as if she were just a normal little girl. That is: "Go to sleep! You don't need to be cuddled and cajoled all night!"
We need to do something similar, I think. The problem we've had with Maggie, ever since birth, is her vomiting. We've always had to be mindful of not just putting her down to sleep. Because she throws up. So there's been a lot of cuddling and patting. Plus, of course, the sheer fact of just wanting her to go to sleep after the end of a tiring day. Why would we want to sit there in the evening listening to her cry herself to sleep for hours on end?
As it is, she does that anyway - even with our constant interventions. Every evening it's the same. She's fed from 6pm for an hour and then taken upstairs at around 7.30pm when we can be reasonably confident that her stomach has settled enough for her not to throw up. Then we spend the next hour or two trying to get her to sleep. If we're lucky, we can sit down to eat at around 8.30pm. Most of the time it's after 9pm. Then we have our dinner, watch a bit of telly (because we're too tired and fucked off to do anything else) and hope that this time she won't wake around midnight. But she always does. And then it's into those dark, depressing hours where we're cuddling and patting and feeding and soothing her. Those dark, depressing hours where I occasionally think I can't do this anymore.
Tonight, at around 3am, I woke Shannon with a start because I fell onto the bed while holding Maggie. I fell because I fell asleep on my feet. Of course, Maggie was startled and off she went with all the howling and screaming. Massive fucking sigh. I say sigh but it was more anger and sadness and exasperation.
I don't want to carry on like this anymore. Night after night after night.
* Sleep Debt Snatches is the title of a great B-side by The Fall (who never fail to cheer me up).