When our little girl unleashed the contents of her stomach across her bedroom floor two hours after she should have gone to sleep the other evening, we knew it would be no ordinary night in our house.
The poor thing had been off-colour all day, despite her starring role as a cow in the church nativity (!), and had not wanted much to eat.
Indeed, she’d been a bit sick in the afternoon and we’d sat watching the awesome film Rio to keep her feeling OK.
She’d had some dinner and all seemed OK but her distress at bedtime told a different story. Eventually, after a lot of pleading, she agreed to clamber into her bed but there remained plenty of whimpering and sadness, ” My tummy’s hurting.”
We knew sleep would be the best medicine but we couldn’t leave her. So in we went and a sobbing Sophie dropped out of her bed. My wife looked at me knowingly – one of us needs to sleep in here tonight – so I brought in our single mattress. I was just about to put the covers on the mattress when sickness round 2 began. All over it. Uh oh.
Sophie hasn’t been a sickly child at all and greatly distressed. Just because the whole process was so alien. Bless her. Mummy gave her a cuddle before an emergency phone call to Annie – “Please can we borrow your air bed?”
Annie was amazing, as ever, and raced round while I went out to get some carpet cleaner. (Naturally, we’d run out of ours earlier). Now I’m either terrible at pumping up or very impatient – or both – but I made a pitiful job at blowing the bed up and it lay rather limply on the floor. Still, our ill child was two and a half hours past her bedtime and she needed sleep. No time to make a better job of it.
My wife cosied down onto Sophie’s floor but, with a knowing smile on her face, said, “One child each tonight. I’ll stay in here for the next hour or so but obviously overnight I’ll have to be responsible for Harry. .”
Couldn’t argue with that.
And, after I’d done Harry’s “dream feed” until about one, the bed was free for me to get into. Cautious not to wake Sophie up, crumpling the air bed in many directions as displaced air screamed for help.
I settled down into one corner of the bed (not easy with legs as long as mine!), wondering what adventures the night would bring.
All in all, it was OK. I woke at periodic intervals throughout the night before finally giving into the temptation to use the bathroom. As I picked myself up, the air let out a great sigh of relief and I knew we could be in trouble.
Sure enough, when I clambered back into bed, Sophie had emerged from her sleep. Expecting great gratitude for sticking it out on her floor, I eagerly awaited her first words to me.
“Daddy?” she said.
“I want Mummmmyyy.”
Great. Thank Sophie.
Trying to save the situation, I asked her if she wanted to come into my bed for a bit of comfort. Obviously she chose to and her spatial awareness isn’t too flash. Cue me rolling off the air bed and Sophie settling down to sleep. Her sleep process tends to involve a lot of rolling around and flailing octopus-esque limbs.
Not exactly conducive for me sleeping. But at least she was comfortable!
And so, at 6.50am when my alarm went off, I was quite grateful for the opportunity to get out of bed. If you ask my wife, you’ll know that’s rather unusual!
Feeling pleased that I’d had a hard night for once, I went into our room to proclaim to my wife about just how hard it had been. No doubt she’d had an amazing trouble-free night, with a double bed to herself and not a care in the world.
Her eyes, staring glassily at me from behind a feeding baby and ringed with lack of sleep, hinted that perhaps my night hadn’t been so bad after all…