Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Waiting Game

I am now 38 weeks pregnant and with any luck, we are about 2 weeks away from meeting this little person. I'm torn between being really excited, and absolutely terrified.

When close friends were expecting their second child, the husband complained that there was nowhere near the same amount of fuss made when they announced their pregnancy. He felt as if people somehow cared less. I haven't noticed that at all, and if anything I've appreciated the fact that there's been less unsolicited advice this time around. People assume, because you've done it all before, you know what you're doing and they let you get on with it. After J was born I looked at friends who were having their second or third babies with awe and admiration. The simple fact that they had been through it all and were willing to do it again seemed worthy of high praise (either that or they were completely mad - it varied depending on how much sleep I'd had). It's the thought of facing all of the feeding and crying and sleep deprivation again, and trying to manage a very loveable but headstrong toddler, that keeps me awake at night, praying that I'll get a few more days. I clench every muscle in my body and chant, "don't come out tonight, don't come out tonight," over and over. I'm physically feeling about as ready as I'll ever be, and can't imagine I could be more uncomfortable than I am right now, but despite 38 weeks of preparation, I am far from ready mentally and emotionally, and that's quite a crucial part of the process me thinks.

As much as you prepare and plan and talk to people about it all, you can never fully grasp just how amazing, exhausting, beautifully overwhelming and utterly all-consuming having your first child can be, until they're there in your arms, taking over your home, and so completely and effortlessly stealing your heart. I'm sure we have a few shocks in store for us, as we learn how amazing, exhausting, beautifully overwhelming and utterly all-consuming having a second child can be, and I simply cannot wait to see my J as a big brother, but we know what we're getting this time around, and to me that makes it even more special. I don't mean that we know we're getting a boy or a girl, and we have no way of knowing what kind of person this little one will be, but we know what it's like to create a child and we remember the joy of that first meeting, and how precious it is to watch them grow - with every day bringing something new and different. We don't know how we managed it, but our son is an awesome human being, and every day he does or says something that blows us away. The fact that I get to go through all of that again is what excites me the most, and if anything, it makes the anticipation of BITO's arrival even greater.

At this point in my first pregnancy I had put on 20kgs, I was 4cm dilated and I had been told by my obstetrician that our baby would arrive "any day." He was still defiantly 2 weeks away but we were so desperate to meet him that we did everything we could to get him out. This time it's me, defiantly hanging in there, not yet ready to surrender to what my body will inevitably do with or without my compliance. I want to give my son more time as my one and only, and I want one more chance to have dinner alone, out somewhere with my husband, I want to keep the appointments for a massage and a haircut that I have this week, and I want to sleep for 10 hours straight as many times as I possibly can before our world is changed forever once again (I'd also like to avoid having a baby on the 29th of February if I can...). Then, I'll be ready to take on everything wonderful, and not so wonderful, that lies ahead. So, dear baby, you will be welcomed with love whenever you arrive, but Mummy would like it if you would kindly wait a few more days.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Night Terrors

For the last four nights in a row we have been woken at least once by a small person demanding attention. The first night J woke up screaming, twice. It was so unusual that we were both awake instantly, and J did get our full attention. A few nights later and we're a little more relaxed, but no less perplexed about the cause of J's nighttime angst. D has better hearing than me, he sleeps closest to the door and he isn't attempting to grow another human being at the moment so he's usually the first out of bed, but on Saturday night I was on my own. At approximately 11.45pm I was woken by a shout - "Mummy!?" It wasn't frightened or frantic, and there were no tears, but it was persistent, as if he just needed to be sure I was there. Dragging my 36 + weeks pregnant body out of bed takes some serious effort at the best of times, but after being woken from a deep and dreamy sleep it's almost impossible. I lumbered my way into J's room and found him sitting up in bed as if it was first thing in the morning. He turned to me and said, "hop in Mummy's bed?" hopefully. "No," I replied, wearily. "Mummy hop in the cot?" Again, full of hope and optimism. "No," I replied, wearily and emphatically, "not even if I wanted to."

In his entire life J has only slept in our bed a handful of times, and only when he's been sick or we've been on holidays and had no other option. Anytime we've ever had to have him in our bed none of us have had what you might call "quality sleep" so it's been easy to not make a habit out of it. I figured he might want to get into bed with us in a few weeks time when he realises that the new baby is sleeping with Mummy and Daddy, but this recent and sudden departure from "sleeping through" has taken me completely by surprise. 

On Saturday night I was determined not to give in. I pictured myself and my husband living separate lives for the next 5 years as we each took turns to sleep with one or more of the children, and I stayed resolutely outside of the cot, and kept J safely inside of it. I rubbed his back, tickled his face and tried not to nod off with my head resting on the side of the cot. Any time he sensed that I was about to leave, or fall asleep standing up, J would call out, "Mummy?" again and attempt to strike up a conversation. Eventually I realised that neither of us were getting any sleep anyway, and carried him into my bed, along with Dorothy the Dinosaur, and J's constant companion Bottomley Potts, a long-limbed stuffed dalmatian. After an hour of having him toss and turn beside me, bumping his head on the bedhead, chatting to Dorothy and attempting to sleep horizontally, I realised that he was actually, despite what he believed, going to be more comfortable in his own bed and I carried him back in there. He surrendered pretty easily and I didn't hear from him again, but I still woke up the next morning feeling like crap, and angry at the world in that way that only parents of small children can comprehend.

As I said, it's only been four nights but to add insult to injury my husband has recently started snoring... In our 8 years of living together he has never been a snorer and I have no idea why he's started now but it's making me think separate bedrooms for married couples aren't such a bad idea. It's not just the snoring that is the issue - It's the fact that I can't wake him to get him to stop snoring without sending him into cardiac arrest. Even in the deepest sleep he is poised and ready for D-Day. The slightest movement from my side of the bed has him reaching for the car keys and the hospital bag. It usually takes him a minute or two to absorb what I'm telling him when I say, "I'm not in labour, I just want you to shut the f**k up and sleep on your side, or I'm going to smother you with this pillow." Try getting back to sleep after that.

So J might only wake once or twice but when you add at least one episode of snoring, a few trips to the bathroom and one or two dog-related disturbances to the mix every night, there's not a lot of restful and restorative sleeping going on. I have to wonder just what it would take to sleep soundly for 10 hours, and I mean really soundly? And do you hand in your rights to a full night's sleep the minute you decide to start a family? I don't want to know the answer to this, but will I ever sleep well again? I started this blog all that time ago with a post about sleep deprivation. It was an obsession for such a long time, and no doubt will be again as we throw ourselves into life with a newborn. But we've had it pretty good for a while now and I had forgotten just how very bad it could be. I don't know if J is entering a new phase, if the universe is trying to prepare me for what lies ahead, or if I simply bragged one too many times that my child was a brilliant sleeper, but I am longing for the day when I will again wake up when my body has decided I have had enough sleep, and not when someone else does.