By PENNY SHIPWAY
It’s 2am and I am woken by the sounds of two little feet shuffling down the hallway: flannelette against carpet. It’s bloody cold. And dark. I can hear the heavy breathing of my two-year-old daughter, between the sucking of her dummy as she makes her way closer to Daddy’s side of the bed.
I lie and wait for the usual scenario to take place.
My husband is now awake. He sighs and throws the toasty warm doona off him. I am feeling both thankful I don’t need to face the shock of the cold, yet I’m riddled with the usual guilt that I can’t help him. He stands up and put his t-shirt on, and in his nicest Daddy voice he says, “Come on Daisy, let’s go back to bed”.
Off they go into the night while I lie there feeling like the most useless, worthless, lazy mother in the world. The thoughts plague me actually.
“Get up and help him you lazy bitch,” she will say.
”But I’ve just had major back surgery, I’m just too sore and if I lift Daisy (all of 15kg) back into the bed I know I’ll set myself up for another painful day at home tomorrow, ” the other one reasons.
“Yes, but he always does it. You can’t work that poor man to the bone, he is exhausted,” she will reply.
“But I would swap my chronic back pain with getting up in the middle of the night any day,” is the final thought, and usually the one that helps nurse me back to sleep.
Sometimes when I open my eyes again, my husband is still missing in action. That means he is sleeping on the floor of my daughter’s room (yes, the actual floor, with a thin blanket.
And he can usually sleep, too. I credit his five years in the army). I have told him countless times that we should just set up a little bed in our room on the floor for her or – god forbid – just let her sleep in the bed with us.
“No, no, I’m making progress,” he says, “She is nearly sleeping through again. If we let her sleep in our bed she will never want to sleep in her own bed.”
He is right. But it’s not fair that I can’t share the shifts with him. And I mean really, shouldn’t we cut ourselves some slack? I’m recovering from a spinal operation (four months out). And we had a second baby, Lola, just eight months ago (who – praise the Lord! – sleeps through the night). Maybe we just need to let the kid sleep in our bed.
By the time 6am rolls around, my husband has changed for work, fetched Lola, fed and changed her, fixed Daisy some cereal, and is scoffing some toast at the kitchen bench. He has put my clean baby in her rocker next to the couch so it’s easy for me to access her during the day, with minimal lifting. Daisy is also clean, fed and ready to start the day. All this while I stuff my face with painkillers and mentally prepare myself for the challenge of looking after two babies, whilst riddled with excruciating back pain. With a quick kiss and a “seeya, babe”, he is out the door and on the road at 6.45am. It’s amazing what you can achieve in 45 minutes!