Thursday, December 29, 2011

There were three in a bed

There were three in the bed
and the mummy said
"That's it! That's it!"
So she grabbed her pillow
and got right out...

Apart from our little trip away, I can't quite remember when I had a good night's sleep.  Sleep hasn't been the easiest thing to come by but it has alluded us even more in recent months.

When babies come along you know that you are going to be sleep deprived: you make a conscious decision to start a family and you prepare yourself mentally for a time of little sleep.  Then, when your baby sleeps through for the first time, you celebrate and do a little dance and think "ah, bliss, sleeps returns to nourish me..."  You are lulled into a false state of security, for then comes the first tooth, the first cold, the first night terror, the first wet bed, and you realise that this is parenthood and sleep a past acquaintance.

I had come to terms with the fact that there would be good nights of sleep interrupted by a few sleepless nights, but a catalogue of events have brought me to here, sitting at my computer, tapping away at 0300, seeking peace and solitude.

Eilidh, as you are fully aware has SMA, a condition which results in weak muscles and her inability to walk: it also means that she can't roll or move around in bed and so she gets uncomfortable and  wakes up and calls for "mummy" or "daddy", needing moved and turned and repositioned.  Sometimes she slumbers on, other times she needs a cuddle or a song to fall back to sleep.  From the time she goes to bed to the time she wakes - 7pm to 7am (if we are lucky!) - this might happen anywhere up to eight times.  It may only take a few minutes; it may take an hour or so - it all adds up to sleep interrupted though...

Eilidh shares a room with Niamh.  A few months ago Niamh came to me after a particularly wakeful night and said " mummy, i know that you are tired - I'm can turn Eilidh for you".  I looked at her, my heart breaking open a little, and took her into my arms, "you don't need to do that, Niamh, but thank you.  thank you so much. you are her big sister and I'm her mummy: you play with her and cuddle her and laugh with her, and I will look after her.  I will look after you both.  I promise..."  I realised then how much of an impact Eilidh's restlessness was having on Niamh - when Eilidh wakes, Niamh rouses a little and sometimes will wake fully too.  No wonder she looks so tired...

Since I have gone back to work, in combination with a poor sleep pattern, Niamh has crawled, quietly like a ninja, into bed with us during the wee small hours of the morning. I think that she is missing me during the day and needs to be near me during the night; on top of me, kicking, wriggling, star-fishing and duvet-huggingly near me!  Or perhaps she's just trying to get some sleep away from her sister and she is being clever in telling me that it's because she is missing me- who knows!  Invariably D will climb out of bed and go through to Eilidh's room to sleep and turn her, allowing us all to get a bit more sleep. 

This has been the pattern for the last five months and tonight, combined with D's snoring, I've had enough!  There is no easy fix, however.  No instant sleep remedy to be had.  We need to extend our house, build another bedroom, give Niamh her own room, regain our "marital bed"... Then there's Eilidh: a new mattress; a tilting bed; and, in time, perhaps ventilation, too - and yet none of this can guarantee us a night of sleep...

So, until we can build our extension - and planning is in - we will continue to do whatever it takes for us all to sleep a decent sleep.  Eilidh will get turned, Niamh will share our bed, D will climb into Niamh's bed, I will have early night's, and we will manage because we have to.  This is life with SMA (and a small house!) and we'll take each day as it comes...  I might, however, need to find a baby-sitter and a hotel room soon; sleep, we will be reunited...

And now, I will bid you goodnight; sleep well, my friend, sleep well.

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