Back in the day, you know, B.L., when I used to think being tired was that feeling that hit you around 4pm on a workday, I remember reading that the average new parent lost out on around 800 hours of sleep during that first year of their baby's life. I have a feeling I've blogged this fact before, but to be honest, everything gets a bit hazy after more than a year of sleepless nights. I do, however, recall a sinking feeling of dread at the prospect of all those sleepless nights. And days.
But thinking about the past 16 or so months, as I was while putting Louis to bed the other night, I started calculating another, far more pertinent figure. I wanted to know how many hours I'd spent actually trying to get him to sleep since he was born. I'm talking about all that time spent rocking, singing, swaying, pushing (the buggy), nursing, nursing, nursing, praying, crying, nursing, walking, nursing, patting, singing, nursing.... You get the drift.
So, I totted it all up, pretty conservatively I might add, and I reckon I've spent the equivalent of two months trying to persuade Louis either to nap or sleep. Yup, two months. Give or take a day or two. If that sounds unlikely, consider that this is a child who even as a newborn, when most babies apparently sleep an average of 20 hours in every 24, he was getting by with barely 12 to 14. Not for want of my trying, I might add.
Fast forward 16 months and Louis's (non)-sleeping habits still dominate most of my days - and nights. Every now and then, there's a glimmer of hope that things might be improving. Like tonight, when he miraculously fell asleep about 10 minutes after I switched off the light. But that's forgetting about last Friday, when he had me practically begging him to shut his eyes after he spent a good two-hour stretch of the early hours awake.
The reason I'm writing about sleep - again - is because I thought I'd link to a piece I wrote recently in the Independent about our travails. It may not have yielded the answer, but writing it was pretty cathartic. I mention it mainly for all the great comments and tips that readers posted at the end of the piece just in case they might come in handy for anyone in my boat. And if they don't, then let me just add one more observation that I received in a letter from a very kind reader. Even non-sleeping toddlers grow up eventually. And that time passes quicker than you might think. Even at 4am.