10 natural enemies of the sleeping baby

What woke him - the cat, the doorbell, just my general 'mumness'?
What woke him - the cat, the doorbell, just my general 'mumness'? Photo: Getty Images

I just fell down the stairs. Hard. Can you break your arse? Pretty confident my arse bone is shattered.

Despite the almighty crash and the searing pain, I didn't make a squeak. All I could think was "Oh god, don't wake up, don't wake up."

Because I'd just put my child down for a nap. And nothing, not even a shard of bone piercing my skin, could bring me to wake him.

My son is what mums euphemistically call 'not a great sleeper', which is code for 'my eyes burn with an exhaustion so fierce I can taste colours'.

Actually, to be fair, he's awesome now. I shouldn't complain, but I'm still dealing with the trauma of having a child who didn't sleep. EVER. For 12 months.

But today, in a miracle that was surely blessed by the Virgin Mary (maybe Jesus was a bad sleeper too), my son kept sleeping.

As I picked myself up from the Three Stooges-style stack, I laughed at the lengths I've gone to make sure he sleeps.

I know I'm not the only one who spends every nap time creeping around the house like a freak so the baby will sleep and you can "enjoy" your me-time (aka trying to silently clean the kitchen, mop the floors and do the laundry. Life is a carnival around here!).

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If you're like me, you'll be well acquainted with this list of nap-time evilness.

1. The transfer

Beautiful baby angel is sound asleep in your arms but now you need to transfer him from your arms to the cot. Cirque du Soleil could start a new show based on the contortionist acts performed in nurseries around the world because mothers will turn themselves inside out to do this without waking the baby.

When my son was especially sensitive to movement (and light and sound and the freaking tides and the gravitational pull of the earth), I would lower him down with my chest still touching his face, so he wouldn't wake from the sudden change of temperature. Sounds reasonable? Except I couldn't physically do this with both feet on the floor, so I ended up balanced like a see-saw on the railing of his cot. Legs in the air, head pressed into mattress to stop me suffocating my son. Picture it. It's humiliating.

Don't even get me started on rescuing your arm from under that baby. How many of you have stood there for what felt like HOURS, weighing up the pros and cons of wetting your pants versus waking the baby?

2. The creaky knee, clicky elbow, clacky wrist, cracky shoulder …

Or any part of your body that betrays you by cracking like a buckshot as you lower your sleeping babe into the cot. It's the ultimate heartbreak when your own body lets you down. It's impossible to avoid and always seems to happen right at the moment you think you've succeeded in The Transfer. Just as you move away from the cot – POW! Cue the tears. Yours and baby's.

3. Sound/ frequency waves?

Or whatever it is that makes you aware that someone is close to you – or someone is moving away. You know how the air sort of changes when someone is in your personal space? That's how babies know when you're walking away from the cot. From the depths of slumber they'll know when you've taken a backwards step. It's grounds for instant wailing. The only solution is to walk so slowly you feel the earth shifting under your feet. You just might make it to the door by the end of the nap.

4. The creaky spot on the floorboards

That creaky spot must be avoided at all costs. If necessary, you'll turn yourself into Spiderman and climb the walls to get around it. I swear I levitated once.

5. The bedroom door

The worst tragedy of all is getting the baby to sleep, only to wake them as you close the bedroom door with a bang. I now have advanced skills in silent door closing. I can close a door so gently that the door itself doesn't realise it's closed.

6. The doorbell

WHO RINGS THE DOORBELL?! Villains, that's who. Evil bastards who wait until you've put the baby down to ring that thing loud and clear for the whole street to hear. This also goes for all those who have ever mowed the lawn during nap time.

7. The insane cat

My cat wishes my son had never been born. He stole all of her attention and affection. She wishes him ill, I'm sure of it. She will sit outside his room and as I open the door, she'll start wailing like an alley cat on heat. She is a mastermind.

Tell me this isn't just my cat. Surely there are more out there? Any spiteful dogs?

8. The phone

Do NOT leave your phone on when you're putting the baby down. Your own stupidity will lead to a serious case of self loathing. Or it could permanently damage your relationship with the poor unfortunate soul who decided to ring you at that exact moment, because they should have known you were putting the baby down. My phone has been on silent for the past 15 months. Seriously. I don't even respond when I hear a ringtone anymore because my phone only vibrates. I've learnt my lesson.

9. Sunlight

We moved into a brand new house when the baby was four months old. It was a couple of months until we managed to get some blackout blinds installed. In the meantime? Aluminium foil and cardboard boxes. We looked like a cross between a meth lab and a house of conspiracy theorists trying to block the government's mind-reading technology. But when you have a child who will only sleep inside a black hole vacuum of light and sound, you won't mind looking like degenerates.

10. 'Mumness'

This one's the hardest of all to defeat. Even if you've used your mad ninja skills to transfer that baby and you've made it out of the room in ear-popping silence and you've avoided the cat and the phone and the doorbell, nothing can stop you from getting outside the door and suddenly and irrationally deciding you need to walk back into the lion's den to check that your baby is lying on his back. Or that his sleeping bag isn't suffocating him. Or that he's comfortable ...

Or because, despite fighting for an hour for your baby to go to sleep, you suddenly miss them and just want to take a peek. Because, honestly, what is more precious than a sleeping baby?

Lauren Dubois is former political journalist who now reports from the front line of parenting at the-thud.com. You can find her Facebook page here.

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