The clock struck one and a strange sense of fear engulfed me
In the middle of the night when most people have retired to bed, barring a few lovers who are whispering sweet nothings into their phones, and a few who are hooked to the idiot box or catching up on the latest series of " Game of Thrones" or some other daily soap on their laptop. An eerie silence has crept around but for the occasional bark of a stray dog.
In our home, the hubby snores blissfully unaware of worldly woes. In the other room, I, my mom and the baby are asleep. What a picture perfect moment!
And then the clock strikes 1.30 am. It's time for her night shift. The baby opens her bright big eyes and lets out a wail. I and my mom are jolted out of our reverie. I hurriedly reach out for her milk bottle as my half asleep self starts frantically searching for her glasses, pops them on and then hurriedly starts making milk for the baby hoping that she would have it quickly and sleep. High hopes! Which are surely not going to be met.
The baby hungrily slurps her milk and her diaper is changed. She refuses to sleep and is irritated. She uses her most effective and at this point possibly the only tool of communication. A loud ear piercing cry and then a few more. I am terrified of holding her for fear of dropping her and so it's my mom who wraps her in a blanket and walks around singing for her and trying to soothe her.
After a while she gets quiet and looks like she is dozing off. I silently heave a sigh of relief as I am almost dozing off myself. I have closed one eye and about to shut the other as well and it looks like she has woken up yet again. Some more milk and a lullaby but she won't sleep. After a while she's quiet and then the damn watchman chooses that moment to blow his whistle and beat his stick on the ground - a daily ritual to scare off any thieves - he claims. It never bothered me in the past for I slept unaware but now I almost wanted to get hold of his stick and whack him. The baby who was about to sleep is now wide awake and screams again. And the cycle begins.
By the time she has gone to sleep it’s 6 am and it's time for my Mom to wake up. She has to cook and go to school where she works. I manage to sleep for 2 hours if the baby is kind enough and decides she is OK with me resting. If not then any sleep even in the morning is a farfetched dream for me.
This rigorous night shift continues for almost 2.5 months with an odd one week when the baby thinks she has troubled people enough and she probably needs to give them some rest. But once she thinks they are getting too comfortable and getting back to their old life, she decides time is up and she needs to remind us that we have her around - and life isn’t easy now.
When I talk to my friends and cousins who have babies or have gone through this, very few of them seem to have faced a similar situation. Most babies wake up at night but they go to sleep after taking their feed.
Ours was a very unique case. People advised giving her a warm bath at night but we were afraid in the cold weather of Bangalore and in winters, what if this little one caught a cold! We did not want to risk that, we would rather take on the sleepless nights. There are some benefits (pun intended) like drastic loss of weight, no appetite or cravings, irritability due to which most people would stay far and you would rather prefer that. When I consulted her pediatrician he just waved me off saying this is normal.
Finally after she was 2.5 months we tried out the warm bath thing at about 7.30 pm post which she slept well. And then gradually things fell in place and she settled into a proper sleeping pattern. I now realized the value of sleep thanks to her.
I wondered how people who work night shifts including my Mom who did it in the past survived. No matter how much one sleeps during the day, one cannot really make up for the sleep lost at night. She is 1 year 8 months old now and though I wish she were a goody goody girl who would sleep early - well, she's not the one who would comply to my wishes so easily. She sleeps pretty late - in a way it works out for me as I get back home only after 10 p.m. so I get a few precious Mommy-Baby night moments with her. Thankfully she sleeps well. She does wake up for her feed once, seldom twice but that's perfectly OK with me.
As long as I don't need to feel the fear factor when the clock strikes one - all's well. The adorable things her son does to get her attention and how much happiness that has brought into her life.
Watch a fellow Mom, Neha share her experience as a mother. She also shares