The other day, a friend of mine asked me what my typical routine was like at night…. I’ve never really though much of it, as the night time baby/toddler duty has been my life for the past three years (exactly three years, as Margo turns three tomorrow)!. It does all sound like a commotion for the middle of the night, all those ‘things’, sleeping with your baby, feeding them yourself, and taking them to loo all night… But, I don’t think it’s such a big deal and for me, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The times I do have to wake to take care of my kids, I feel are brief and does not interrupt my sleep much. Plus, I’m under the impression that babies and toddlers or any human being for that matter are not supposed to sleep a solid 8 hours at night. Up until recently, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, when the 8 hour work day (well, it used to be a much longer day until labor laws came into effect) came into play, it didn’t really matter if you got a solid stretch of sleep at night.
So, anyway, if I break my night down into time this is how it typically goes. Margo is 3 years old and Goldie is seven months. Margo, for the most part, sleeps through the night and is unbothered by the little one’s wakings. I noticed a similar night pattern with Margo when she was the same age:
Bedtime for the little ones. I give them both a tandem feed and put them to sleep at the same time. Margo sleeps on her toddler bed squashed up against ours, and Goldie sleeps on the big bed in between Art and I. I sometimes fall asleep with them and stay there, but usually wake up and go back into the living room so that I can space out on the computer.. haha, or maybe do some cleaning up. Many hard core attachment parents would say that you and your children should go to bed together… that your child is not something to ‘put away‘ or ‘put to sleep‘, and that would really work well if you lived in a communal situation or with family around. But for me, sometimes I really need that hour or two or three to just be without a babe on my lap. I could wear Goldie in a sling, but after wearing her all day, man, does she get heavy! Also, Margo is a super motor mouth, and when I ‘put her to bed’, man it’s such a relief to my ear drums!
I go to bed and usually Goldie wakes up for a little boobs. It’s a laying down feed, and usually very fast. I do not take her to the loo at this point. This feed is particularly good for me too, as breastfeeding release ‘sleepy’ hormones for mom and babe, so it also helps me drift off to sleep. For some reason, that first stretch of sleep, she doesn’t need the potty. If you look at segmented sleep, the stretch of sleep between when the sun sets and about 1 or 2 in the morning, is usually the longest and deepest stretch.
Goldie stirs and in my half asleep-desperate stupor, I offer the boob, once, maybe twice and then she keeps pulling off and squirming and complaining, and then, I realize that she has to pee. So, that’s when I take her to the potty. Actually, I take her to the sink. I don’t turn the lights on, I do it in almost complete dark and sometimes I realize that my eye are in fact closed! But, I can hear when she’s done a wee because it trickles down the drain. Then, I can splash her bottom off with a little water from the tap and dry her bottom with a towel. Then, I stumble back into the bedroom and put her nappy back on in bed. When Margo was a baby and would wake for her middle of the night potty, I just had a potty next to the side of the bed. I could probably do that with Goldie, but I really like cleaning her bottom off with water.
Usually, she does not require any boobs to go back to sleep, because she had a few sips before the trip to the potty. I know some people might think this mid-night trip to the potty is insane… but I don’t think so. Goldie has cloth nappies on… if she did a big wee, not only would she be wet and uncomfortable, but also, there would be the chance of it leaking all over the bed, AND, there’s the hygene factor. Baby wee smells like ammonia. I think it smells gross. Disposables only mask the smell of the urine. I used to try to use disposables at night, thinking that I would be able to to get more sleep, but this hardly ever worked because the diaper would be wet (even if she didn’t feel the wetness) and it would get all cold and gross. Both Goldie and Margo would keep stirring, even in a disposable, if they were wet, so I gave up on trying to use disposables at night after Goldie was a few weeks old.
This is when things get busy and I usually get grumpy. Goldie wakes first, for boobs and potty (again). When I was in uni, we used to have a thing we called ‘breaking the seal’. It was when you were partying and drinking and you wouldn’t have to pee for hours, then, as soon as you went once, you just had to go to the loo every 5 seconds. So, after Goldie’s ‘breaking the seal’ around 2 ish, she then wakes up very frequently to wee. In the mornings, past 4am, she probably wees every hour or more! In fact, she’s usually dry throughout the whole night, and I wouldn’t even need to put a nappy on her, except, I sometimes miss a morning wee.
After boobs and the potty, Goldie is usually awake and wants to play! Oh, she’s so cute, but I don’t want to play! So, I let her roll around Art and I like a pin ball machine while I doze… then, she usually falls asleep about an hour later and then Margo wakes up looking for boobs! Then, Margo may or may not fall asleep and Goldie wakes up and then we’re usually all awake by 5:30…
It Won’t Be Forever and Things Are Always Changing
The nighttime waking and taking care of my babes at night doesn’t bother me at all. I might be a bit blurry eyed and out of it in the morning, but I know it’s just a passing phase. It sounds crazy, but when I take Goldie to the loo in the middle of the night and she does a wee while she’s mostly asleep, I see that cute little face and I think, ‘ohhh… she’s so stinking cute!’ 🙂 Bedtime and night time routines of babies and toddlers are always changing and do change frequently! Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. I always think: if it were me, wouldn’t I love it if someone took me to pee 4 times a night, gave me drinks and cuddles? I think I would like it too 🙂 And, I, myself, love the nighttime cuddles so much!