… but I said no no no.
If anyone’s ever known how Rosie’s feeling tonight, it was the late and great Amy Winehouse. These words of protest came right from the depths of her soul. Of course, I draw the line there at any similarity between Amy and Rosie- after all, they were trying to take away Amy’s drugs. We’re merely trying to get Rosie to go to sleep.
That’s right, we’re headed (back) to sleep school. Sometimes I call it Sleep School, other times it’s Baby Jail, occasionally it’s Rehab. It’s real name is the Ellen Barron Family Centre, and it’s fantastic.
By now I’m practically bosom buddies with the centre’s (amazing) staff. I expect nothing less to be greeted warmly: “Welcome back, Bron. Lovely to see you again. Let me show you to your regular room.”
I’ve been twice already, once with each of my boys, who were equally shocking sleepers for different reasons. And now I’m onto sweet baby number three, who is a little lady who politely declines sleep on all occasions. The only thing that’s worse for me than going back there, is not going back there.
You see, I haven’t slept through the night once in the past five years.
You may be wondering what’s wrong with me.
If it’s so bad, why did she keep having more kids?
Well, apart from the whole dysfunctional sleeping caper, our children are totally awesome little human beings and we think there should be more out there like them, so we’re actually doing society a favour. You’re welcome.
Seriously though, this baby of mine is such a bright, shiny little sparkle. She’s quirky and hilarious, she’s pretty and she’s clever. – End Bragfest-
To look at her you’d never guess she gets by on a meagre 8 hours total sleep some days. I don’t tell anyone she doesn’t sleep because I honestly don’t think they’d believe me. Aren’t tired kids supposed to be grumpy? Not Rosie. She gives people some strange looks (she has the Stink Eye and the WTF in her repertoire), but they’re always fleeting and chased with a toothy grin.
Maybe you’re wondering why I don’t just apply what I learned last time I was at the centre in my own home.
I’ve tried to fix this at home, I really have. I’ve done Responsive Settling (the method the centre uses), and it doesn’t work here. How is my baby meant to learn to self-settle and fall asleep with Loud and Louder (her brothers aged 4 and 2, respectively) hooning around our tiny house?
They’re caring little fellas, and in the past when I’ve left Rosie to CIO (Complain it Out, I don’t do crying), I’ve heard her stop. Sweet silence. I’ve been just about to have a cup of tea and give myself a pat on the back for not going back in to the nursery, when I’ve noticed one (or both) of my sons missing from the living room. And inevitably, one (or both) of them have been found in her room, laying in her cot, soothing her with their presence.
“Mumma, baby, crying, okay? Me not love BABYCRY, okay?”, pleads my little one (whose highest-frequency word is “okay”).
“Mum-my! We can’t just leave our baby to cry-y!!!”, scolds my big one, waggling his little index finger at me.
No darling, we can’t have that, we can’t have that at all.
So do you see where I’m coming from here?
The child health nurses at EBFC are fantastic. Compassionate and understanding, yet resolute. They will sit on the edge of your bed in the wee hours of the morning, distracting you with small talk as your baby cries in an attempt to get back to sleep. When it gets too much for you they’ll instinctively ask “Do you want to go in and pat her?”. They’ll go into your baby’s adjoining room with you, and when you defiantly decide to pick up your baby/stay a bit longer/offer baby a feed, that
angel nurse will tap your shoulder, point to the door, and mouth “let’s go”, and you’ll go out and sit on the end of the bed together and wait for round two to begin.
Over the five-day stay, they’ll do this dozens of times until you and your baby master the new skills they expertly teach- for baby, the ability to soothe oneself and fall asleep without any adult intervention. And for you, the ability to quell every maternal instinct you have, and resist rushing to the aid of your child, and to cease inhibiting their ability to lean to sleep alone.
So I’m fine. I know this is what needs to be done and I’m ready, bags packed.
It’s Rosie who is hesitant. She’s had the worst weekend of sleeplessness since she was born. She’s angry and she wants us all to know. Maybe she’s anticipating a staged intervention, with babies sitting around in a circle hearing each other.
“Hi. My name’s Rosie and I’m an awakeaholic.”
Maybe she senses that the nurses are going to suggest we relinquish her dummy, her white noise machine, her special blanket, her fan, her mobile, breastfeeding to sleep, being patted to sleep, and all other sleep associations we’ve accumulated over the past seven months. (She’d be right on this one, we’ll be handing these over sometime tomorrow morning following our admission at the centre.)
I look at her and think:
My dear little girl, we are both terribly deprived of sleep, a basic human need. A beautiful life, free from exhaustion and grumpiness awaits us both- a life I once knew but you’ve never experienced. You deserve to see the world all it’s bold technicolour glory, to grow and learn to your full potential.
Let’s do this baby girl. Let’s get help.
Let’s check in to rehab.
To find out how we got on at sleep school, click here.