Tyson is sprouting molars and this has meant night after night of constant sleep interruption. He’s been keeping everyone awake. Something has to change, at least temporarily.
So that Reservoir Mum is able to grow the unborn Rick Astley* as efficiently as possible – and the rest of the house can slumber without interruption – I suggest she sleep in a separate room for a while. I can then have Tyson in bed with me and comfort him throughout the night.
‘No,’ Reservoir Mum says, her eyes moist. ‘I won’t leave you here alone…’
‘It’s for the best,’ I say, tilting my head towards Tyson.
She bangs her fists against me and whispers, ‘I can’t leave you alone like this…’ and I feel like a super-masculine, freakishly cool megastar – David HasselHoff or Ricky Gervais – but I am also overwhelmed by what this will force me to do. She loves me so much. To free her from these nights of horror I have to make her believe that she means nothing to me.
When I take her by the wrists, her breath stops short. ‘I feel nothing for you,’ I say.
‘Don’t say th…’
‘You’re dead to me!’ I scream. ‘You’re all cold and clammy and there was a period of time today – like a full five minutes – while I was watching a Beyonce video clip, where I didn’t even think of you once.’
She walks backwards keeping her eyes on me and fumbles for the door handle. When she exits I lose my resolve and run after her. ‘RM,’ I whisper forcefully down the hall. ‘I didn’t mean it… I’m Tom Cruise on a bouncy couch for you.’
She looks at me and smiles and it is only then that I notice she had a pillow and doona tucked under her arm the whole time. ‘Have a nice night,’ she says.
It’s three in the morning. I have taken all the Tyson-fired, sleep-dep missiles. I have thrown myself onto his wake the fuck up grenades. I have limped through the night holding my disemboweled intestines in one arm and his aching little body in the other. And to test myself even further I attended the Nuffnang blogopolis after-conference drinks party last night and drank so much alcohol I feel I have embalmed myself from the inside out.
Just as I am finally drifting off, Tyson wakes up with a scream, rubs his mouth violently in an attempt to dull his aching gums and we’re back to soothing and calming again and the darkness surrounds me and I am overwhelmed by a moment of sheer panic when I remember that Rick Astley* will be born in a few short months and that these kinds of night horrors will continue for years. I can seriously consider sleeping through the night again between the ages of forty and forty-five.
Tyson rolls suddenly and whacks me in the eye and then he sits up and lays down again and I am semi-conscious enough to calculate the hours since his last dose of Nurofen and decide that he’s due for more and then another half hour passes until he begins to settle and even though I am aware that sleep deprivation can lead to irrational thoughts and higher rates of depression I am unable to think myself away from them. For the first time ever I feel claustrophobic. I feel trapped.
When I finally sleep I’m relentlessly hounded by after-drunk dreams. I’m running down a dark street lined with babies and children. They’re holding plackards and although the slogans upon them could be interpreted in different ways I can’t help but read some of them in a negative light – You’re shit!, Germaine Greer’s A Better Dad Than You, and Why Don’t You Just Die Already? The road is endless. Some of the babies have massive heads. I feel swamped. David Hasselhoff is under a set of traffic lights eating a hamburger in his underwear.
Suddenly I am woken by a gentle prod. It’s Reservoir Mum. She’s a silhouette beside the bed. ‘You wanted to try this for a while so Tyson’s crying didn’t wake everyone up and now your crying’s waking everyone up.’
‘I was crying?’ I whisper, ‘That does seem to defeat the purpose a bit…’
‘You okay? You want me to swap with you?’
‘No, of course not.’
‘Get the hell out of here,’ she says.
I sigh, think of my friend – big empty bed in other room – and say, ‘Okay.’
I head to bed having just written the first two parts of this week’s Wednesdays From The Womb. The four hours of solid sleep from the night before has given me perspective. I take my IPOD with me and listen to my self title playlist Reservoir Dad. The song I choose to take me into bliss is ‘Love My Way’ by The Psychedelic Furs.
Tyson seems more settled tonight and I’m hoping that the worst is over when I remember that I have to think of a pregnancy tip for this week. I decide to go with something I read on the Huggies website –
Even if you don’t usually show your emotions, by 30 weeks pregnant you may be. Watching the news or listening to sad stories can prompt a surge of empathy and a fresh batch of tears. Somehow, the human experience seems so much more intense and personal when you’re pregnant.
I make a mental note to paraphrase this and then begin to think that it can also apply to the partners of pregnant women when I simply drift off.
When I hear Tyson stirring I note that it’s three in the morning again. But this time he’s slept for five straight hours. He wakes up, rubs at his gums, as if by habit, and then stops to listen. ‘Daddy?’ he says.
‘Yeah, mate,’ I whisper.
He shuffles over and flops a hand on my face. Puts a leg on my belly. He says Daddy again, then smacks his lips a few times and starts breathing heavy almost immediately. My love for him cannot by limited by the writing on a page. He’s not even fully awake but he’s looking for me. I feel joyous and when I move his warm hand to my lips, calm washes over me. These nights we have together – the sleepless and the settled – are only serving to strengthen our bond.
My mind is wandering thorough the dark street again and the babies and the kids are there but all the plackards are gone and when they crowd the street behind me I get the feeling that I should stop walking and turn towards them. There are so many babies and so many faces but I feel a pull towards one in particular. He’s wearing clothes that have been worn by Archie, Lewis and Tyson and I can see the similarities in his features as much as I notice what makes him unique. We’re moving towards each other. Soon I’ll pick him up and feel his warm hand on my face.
There are more interrupted nights coming for me.
And I’m so excited I can’t sleep.
(*We already know our baby’s name. Rick Astley is code for ‘we don’t want anyone to know yet’ See original Rick Astley post.)