Back in the day, that meant I was out dancing with friends and then went to breakfast at IHOP, finally stumbling to bed around 4 or 5am. Since I've become a mom it often means trying to console a preschooler who's had a nightmare, a sick toddler, a teething baby or a wide-awake infant who hasn't adjusted to days and nights. The thing is that when I was out dancing all night, I could sleep all the next day if I wanted to. Even with only one kiddo, I could sleep when she slept during daylight hours. Now that we have two, if one is up all night, the other inevitably wakes up at 6:30am ready for the day. If I'm lucky, I can get both of them to nap for an overlapping period of up to an hour (but usually only 10 minutes).
When you're about to become a parent, everyone tells you to say goodbye to sleeping. You assume they mean the first couple of months when you're feeding on demand and up every two hours for 45 minutes. You hear that babies start sleeping through the night after a they're 3 or 4 months old (HA!), and look at that as the light at the end of the tunnel.
No one tells you they really mean you won't get a solid night's sleep for several years.
S was 2.5 when Baby R was born. At that point, S still woke up in the night at least 3-4 times a week, though by then, I could usually go in and lie down with her for 5 minutes and go back to bed. There were the occasional episodes of insomnia from 2am-4am, but for the most part, it was less traumatic sleep disruption for all of us.
When Baby R came, I was used to being sleep deprived so it wasn't quite the shock to my system that having S was. Luckily Baby R is a good sleeper, so has only been getting up once in the night for a feeding since she was about 3 months old. (Unbelievable!) When she's teething or sick it's a different story, but in general I get up once a night with her, and a couple of times a week, I get up once with S for a few minutes.
So now that Baby R is 10.5 months old, we are on the brink of weaning her from her bottle. Which means soon (in theory) we won't be having those nightly rendezvous. On the one hand, I'm hopeful it will go smoothly and once she gets used to it, she will continue to sleep well all night, and I'll only need to be up occasionally with her and her sister. (Sleep! Glorious sleep!) On the other, I'm somewhat sad to lose that time with her.
You see, big sister is a wonderful child who is definitely a mama's girl. She's more mobile, so the second I walk in the door, she's running into my arms. She's more verbal, so as soon as she sees my car pull into the garage, she's talking to me before I can even hear her. Baby R inevitably plays second fiddle to S at this point. I try really hard to split my time fairly with them, but right now S demands more attention. We're working on sharing, and I do as much as I can with both of them together, but some things require my focus to be on one or the other.
So our middle-of-the-night feeding time? That's Baby R's and my special alone time. No one is tugging on my sleeve saying, "Mama! Mama! Watch me! Watch me!" No one is asking me when supper will be ready or if there are clean clothes for work the next day or where something disappeared to. It's just me and Baby R. We snuggle. I hum a song. I say a prayer and thank God for our amazing babies. And we rock. Though I'm tired, I'm so full of love and joy with holding her in my arms, the time passes quickly. And lately, I sometimes wait a little longer to put her back in her crib since I know there are only a handful more nights when we'll be up together.