The inverted commas are on account of my failure to leave my baby crying for more than a nanosecond. I admire parents who can fight through a week of cries in order to have a baby who can soothe herself back to sleep at the end of it, I really do, but my pansy heart can’t hack it.
So, I’ve been sort-of sleep training Mary. Instead of feeding her to sleep in the living-room with lamps on etc., I take her into the bedroom, keep the lights off, put her in her sleeping-bag, and feed her to sleep on the bed. Once she’s asleep, I slip her into her cot and tiptoe away. She still has her sleep association between boob and dreamy time, but she at least has a vague idea of where she is if she wakes up. The poor little thing was falling asleep in one place and waking up in another. No wonder she was discombobulated!
The penguin of the title is a wonderful mug from Paperchase that has a lid in the form of a penguin head (his body forms the mug), which keeps drinks real toasty. If I make myself a cup of tea and put the lid on, I can have a restorative hot drink waiting for me after my nightly getting-bubs-to-sleep routine. Magic.
The owl is Ollie the Owl, a marvellous sleep aid in the shape of a big fluffy owl toy made by The Gro Company. His tummy lights up, his wings contain buttons that play a lullaby, white noise, heartbeats and rainfall, he is activated by your baby’s cry, and he even pours tired parents a nice cold gin and tonic from his beak.
That last function is imaginary but he’s still an excellent comrade in the quest to get baby the F to sleep!
On the subject of sleep, I’m writing this from our living-room while baby Mary sleeps in her pram in the kitchen, large muslin cloth shrouding her from sight, cooker hood fan on, Leonard Cohen singing softly of tea and oranges nearby. These are the ludicrous measures I go to in order to be able to type during her morning nap, because my baby has THE EARS OF A BAT.
My husband and I spend our evenings, after Mary’s conked out, tip-toeing about the cottage, wincing at creaky floorboards and cracking bones, whispering entire conversations to each other, laughing with our hands covering our mouths, and watching TV with the subtitles on. It’s exactly like the John Krasinski film A Quiet Place, in which terrible monsters are drawn to people if they make the tiniest noise, except that our terrible monster weighs in at just over 15lbs.
It’s odd, because, like I mentioned in my last post, Mary can snooze in the noisiest surroundings. I’ve seen her sleep through a waitress dropping a tray of crockery in a packed coffee shop, or while boisterous toddlers throw themselves around like WWF fighters on a mat beside her. But the sound of Andrew and I kissing each other goodnight beside her cot? GOOD MORNING WORLD! Where’s the party at?
When we get our new house with an actual UPSTAIRS things will be different. But for now, it’s goodbye listening to dialogue and hello sneezing into cushions while The Boss slumbers in her tiny blankety throne.
In one of lifestyle blogger Emily Norris’s YouTube videos, her four month old son Jackson shows all the signs of needing a nap: rubbing his eyes and ears, making little crooning mogwai noises like Gizmo from Gremlins, etc. So what his mum does is take him to his cot whilst he’s nice and sleepy, lay him down inside it, and simply leave him to fall asleep on his own.
At four and a half months, our Mary has never managed this astonishing feat, and we have to essentially trick our baby into bed. I can breastfeed her to sleep, while Andrew has to rock her to oblivion while playing Billy Joel. Then, when she’s in a deep slumber, we slip her into bed and tiptoe out. If Mary wakes and we’re not there, she cries hot salty tears of anguish and wails as if we’ve abandoned her in the Kalahari desert.
Must we ‘sleep train’ our girl, leave her to cry and break all three of our hearts in doing so? Or will this situation resolve itself like the Era of the Binky did? (We were told we’d have to ‘wean’ Mary off her binky/dummy/pacifier, but at three months she simply removed it from her mouth with her own chubby paw and never wanted it again.)
Strangely, Mary is actually a good wee sleeper, snoozing for eight hour chunks in her bedside cot, and can fall fast asleep during wacky baby classes, on her playmat, along my outstretched legs, and even when she watches TV upside down, back arched over my lap (don’t ask).
So we’re going to give it to six months, and pray to the baby gods that she learns to view our bedroom as a dreamy paradise, rather than a wasteland where babies are left to perish.