The results are in. Okay, so technically they were in almost three months ago, but as I'm currently growing a human being from scratch, you'll have to excuse my tardiness and forgive the dust that's built up on this late breaking piece of news.
Parents Lie. Yup! It's official. Mamas and papas beware, your dirty little secret is out, you've been rumbled. In what has to be the greatest discovery since those shower heads that increase your water pressure from zero to "blast off a layer of skin while you clean," I have uncovered the truth about how well our babies really are sleeping.
I don't know about you, but it took me all of five minutes to get sick of people asking about my baby's sleep habits. It took me five seconds to get sick of the advice they would then inevitably offer and it took even less for me to start feeling completely inadequate and totally paranoid about the fact that my baby was not falling into a twelve hour coma every night at 7pm from which only heavy medication or an earthquake would rouse her.
Far from gentle dreams and sweet slumber, 7pm was more like kick off time in our house. Daddy would arrive home from work, we'd play a little, eat a little, play some more and then, sometime between the nine o'clock news and whatever dodgy fare RTE was dishing up that night, the Snot Queen would rub her eyes and it would be off to bed where for the first year of her existence she would wake once or twice, root for the breast or just check and see that we were still there and then poof! Off to sleep again until it was time to get up at around 9 or so.
Personally, I had no complaints about this routine. Not having been born a bird, I see no reason to rouse myself anywhere near the vicinity of sunrise and the few times the Snot Queen has gone to sleep before nine found me bleary eyed and confused, wandering the house like a zombie in the pre dawn hours. By the time daddy dearest woke for work, his little family was heading back to bed for a good morning's sleep. If I were to put her in bed at 7 like her little cohorts, he'd never see her at all and would have to rely on photos and stories in order to keep up with her daily life.
Surely I couldn't be the only one though. Surely there were other babies out there that went to bed after the sun set and didn't need to be awake to witness it's return. Surely the Snot Queen wasn't the only child who regularly woke up for brief periods in the night and didn't sleep as though heavily sedated for 12 hour stretches.
In fact, she wasn't, and there were. All around us it seemed, were mothers who were also tearing out their hair as their precious small ones either refused to board the sleepy time express or else insisted on regular stop off points through out the night. There was an entire community of us obsessed with not only getting our babies to sleep at a "reasonable hour" but also getting them to "Sleep through the night" which apparently NONE of them were doing.
This confused me greatly as these mothers had obviously heard the stories and met these so called "Perfect Parents of Perfect Babies" and had been informed that this was the norm and that to deviate from this perfect pattern was to admit total and absolute failure as a parent and to invite scorn and derision from the mommy police (of whom I am just a little bit terrified.)
I decided to go in hunt of these mythical sleeping babies and so, using the cloak of anonymity provided by the world wide web, put forth the following question; How does your baby REALLY sleep?
Of those who replied, 98% admitted to having children who (Shock! Horror!) Did NOT sleep through the night!
But how could this be? What about all those people tutting away at my inadequacies and obvious failures as a mother?
What about all the books and tv shows, the so called "experts" who tell us that our children should not be conscious from sun down till sun up and that to allow otherwise makes us "bad parents" and means a lifetime of woe for and from our little angels?
What about the sleep trainers and the exorbitant fees they charge to "teach" us their methods and "train" our babies to sleep the night from birth onwards?
What about "controlled crying" (a cruel but unfortunately not unusual punishment) and all the other questionable methods, some pharmeceutical and some just plain ridiculous that parents are willing to employ in the hopes of achieving their ever elusive goal?
Could it all be just a giant lie? A ridiculous illusion like having the "perfect body" or any of the other unrealistic expectations we regularly place on ourselves and which are only ever achieved by a very tiny, yet very well publicized minority?
Could it be that babies aren't SUPPOSED to spend half their lives in a coma? That waking occasionally is perfectly normal and more a piece of basic biological programming then a well planned attack on their parent's sanity?
Could it be that maybe, just maybe, it's the 98% of us with babies that don't fit the mold who are normal and that the remaining 2% are the sleep equivalents of naturally having a body like Pamela Anderson? Who, by the way doesn't even naturally have a body like Pamela Anderson...
Could it possibly be that just like diet pills and penis enlargers, someone, somewhere copped on that there were a lot of sleep deprived parents out there who would give an arm, a leg and a whole lot of money, for eight, uninterrupted hours of zzz's?
I don't know about you, but I for one don't intend to lose anymore sleep over it.
I'm off to bed now.