- It gets the ageing process over more quickly. I can accept I don’t look young anymore and move on. Until I had Noah, I still on occasion got asked for ID when buying alcohol. Just before I got pregnant at the ripe old age of thirty, someone knocked at the door and asked if they could speak to my Mum (as in they didn’t think I was old enough to be the homeowner). Three years living with a sleep demon and I have wiry pure white hairs sticking up all along my parting, giving the impression that I have been given a mild electric shock. When I smile, the skin around my eyes bulges into little creases. When someone asks my age, instead of expressing surprise and claiming they thought I was five years younger, they accept it without comment.
- I am more knowledgeable about babies than I would have been. When I used to sit awake in the early hours, feeding Noah or just holding him because that was the only way he’d stay asleep, I read a lot of stuff on my mobile. Dr. Google kept me company. I read government health websites from several different English speaking countries. I read sites by child behaviour experts and psychologists. I read hundreds upon hundreds of posts in different forums. I read about cholic, reflux, development milestones, medications, breast-feeding, weaning, SIDS, an array of illnesses, injections, weird rashes, bowel movements, check-ups and (of course) sleep. I read things that made me panic as well as things that comforted me.
- I spend more time with my son than other parents because he is awake for more hours of the day (and night).
- I have developed the skill to sleep anywhere – sitting up, cramped in a toddler bed or lying on the floor of a cold bedroom next to a cot.
- I have developed the patience of a saint. Being a school teacher and dealing with a hundred teenagers every day, I thought I was a pretty patient person already. Teenagers have got nothing on Noah. Never again will I be pushed to slam my planner down on my desk and bellow “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WILL YOU JUST SHUT UP?!” to a room full of thirty startled faces. There is nothing like being woken up every 40 minutes to stretch your patience to new limits.
- I get to live more than other people. Surely my sleep will never be the same again? So even when Noah becomes normal and sleeps through the night for 12 hours every night, my body will be programmed to survive on less sleep. Think about what you can do with an extra couple of hours every day! That’s 21 hours a week, 1092 hours a year. I could learn a new language or take up crochet or study for another degree…The possibilities are endless.
- My husband no longer wants his own five-a-side football team. That’s right, back in our romantic heyday when we were just children ourselves, my husband (God love him) mentioned he would like no less than five children so he could have his very own little football team. Having spent the last three years with a sleep demon, he is now very adamant that he absolutely only wants one more child (eventually).
- If I don’t go back to teaching, I could get a job as one of those statue people in Covent Garden (the gold ones). I am adept at lying or sitting very still so the sleep demon doesn’t stir.
- I could write a book on child sleep. (See 101 Things I Have Done to Get Noah Asleep for evidence). I am a sleep expert who knows nothing apart from what doesn’t work or what works occasionally. But still…I have enough material for a book.
- I wouldn’t break under interrogation. I have heard (or maybe read in a book) that people can be tortured with sleep deprivation. If I ever happened to know any important secrets and I was kidnapped and kept in a brightly lit, noisy room, I wouldn’t crack. Oh no. No one would be getting any secrets out of me.
So these are the reasons why I am really actually in fact honestly lucky to have been blessed with a sleep demon…. But I’d still like a bit more sleep, my Noah.