The Diary of a Stressed Out, Sleep-Deprived Mother Part 3. So Sleep-Deprived and Forgetful you can Barely Remember your Kids’ Names?! Well, you aren’t Alone……

“Can you grab my balls please?” my husband asks me with a wink and a smile. It’s a humid summer’s evening and the car windows are steaming up much like they did in that scene from Titanic. I am in a compromising position, leaning over the ledge between the front carseats with my nose inches from the floor. I scan the back seat of the car and my heart sinks as I spy our two tennis rackets lying there side by side and I realise that the tennis balls are nowhere to be seen. Yes, that’s right, we’ve roped Nanny into watching the kids for an hour or so so that we can play tennis together and I have only gone and forgotten the damn tennis balls! Sheepishly, I confess my mistake to my husband and after he has rolled his eyes and made some comment about my memory being useless these days, we have found an acceptable solution- we will drive to Sports Direct, which is only round the corner, and purchase some emergency tennis balls so that we are still able to make some use of our pre-booked session on the tennis court before we have to head home to sort the kids out.

After I have been sent in to get the balls and I have finally located and paid for them after finding my way through crowds of people who look as though they have never played sport in their lives, we push the pedal to the ground and hurry back to the courts. By this time, of course, it has started p**sing it down with rain and so we slip around the court for about 45 minutes, not sustaining much of a rally for fear of breaking our necks in these now treacherous conditions. Nevertheless, we enjoy some much needed child free time that evening and at least we manage to play a bit of tennis rather than simply going on a glorified drive (which we very nearly ended up doing when we realised we had no tennis balls!)

Ever since having children, my life has become increasingly eventful and I ever more forgetful, as evidenced by the fact that I even neglected to take tennis balls to a game of tennis. My husband is always despairing over the fact that I often deny any knowledge of certain tasks that he claims he has asked me to do. Some days it is a wonder that I manage to function at all! Since having two children, my absent-mindedness has only escalated. It is safe to say there is now rarely a dull moment in my household- sometimes this is good, sometimes this is not so good. I suspect a lot of my apparent amnesia and selective hearing is due to now being much busier, but there is no doubt that the sleep deprivation has a great deal to do with it as well. Over the past few weeks, we have been more sleep deprived than usual. This is mostly due to us having moved Edward in to the nursery with Henry. Yes, the brothers are now sharing a room!

I had known it was time to move Edward in with his brother for a little while, but various confounding factors had stalled the transition; the recent heatwave being one that springs instantly to mind. However, the final push came when we were clearing our bedroom in order to have our ensuite bathroom redone. My husband declared that Edward would go into the nursery when we took up temporary residence in the spare room ready for the work to begin. I managed a fake smile in response, but secretly I was dreading the inevitable disruption to my sleep that was going to result from this (necessary) move.

My husband and step-father-in-law had spent the weekend putting together Edward’s cot and rearranging the nursery to fit both boys’ furniture in. D-Day came on the following Friday. The boys had their evening bath together as usual and then they were both put to bed in the nursery. My husband and I had agreed to keep the bedside cot in our room so that we could bring Edward back in should there be intolerable sleep disturbance at any time.

The first night didn’t go terribly once we had settled the boys. The initial settling took a little while given that they were very excited at the prospect of being in the same room. My husband and I were treated to an evening concert of singing, babbling and laughing from both boys coming over the baby monitor. Just before they gave in and went to sleep Henry, like a lad drunk on a boys’ night out greeting a mate he is pleased to see arrive in the pub, shouts “BUBAAA!” at the top of his voice, leading my husband and I to dissolve into fits of laughter. Between us, we probably have to go and settle one or both of the boys a few times, but it is nowhere near as dreadful as anticipated (nowhere near as dreadful yet, emphasis on the YET).

The next morning, my husband goes to play cricket as usual and Nanny and I take the boys for breakfast. Now, if you have toddlers, you will know very well that one has to be on the ball 100% of the time when supervising a potentially hazardous event such as breakfast. Sadly, in my sleep-deprived state, my attention span is not quite up to scratch. Things are calm at first, but the food takes a little while to arrive and in this time, the boys start to get impatient and begin to grab dangerously at breakable and potentially perilous objects on the table. Shortly after intercepting Henry just in time to prevent him from licking a pepper-mill (though perhaps the shock of a mouth-full of pepper would have served him right for fiddling), I have a temporary lapse in concentration. Before I know it, a tidal wave of orange juice comes hurtling towards me as a result of Henry enthusiastically lashing out irrationally at Nanny’s glass. I leap to my feet in a bid to avoid it, and although the damage isn’t as bad as it could have been, I don’t escape unscathed. Specifically, the leather bench on which I was sat is covered with orange juice that is rapidly spreading over the fabric and dripping on to the floor. Alas, I have foolishly selected a white outfit (yes, I know this should NEVER be done when dealing with toddlers but I wasn’t thinking as usual!) today and therefore the splashes of orange juice that have landed on my arse give the unfortunate effect of making it appear as though I have p**sed myself in public. A kind young waiter approaches the table with some much needed kitchen roll and asks me if there is anything further I require. I ask him for another latte and then whisper to him that I would be eternally in his debt should he slip a shot of gin into it for me. Perplexed by the fact that he seems to view the latter part of my request as a joke, I turn back to the table and proceed to berate my eldest son for misbehaving (and getting Mummy’s backside covered in vibrant orange juice!)

When I finally arrive at the cricket I have fun explaining to my husband (and everyone else who is in earshot and sports a remotely observant eye) that yes, I am fully aware that I have orange juice all over my rear, and no, I have not in fact p**sed myself. As the game gets underway, Edward begins to have a significant meltdown. I go through my usual process of trial and error as I attempt to find the cause of his distress. After having tried a few different things, I conclude that he may be teething. In a bid to soothe him, I place my finger in his mouth to rub his gums. I instantly regret this decision when he bites my finger with his newly erupted tooth. I suppose at least I was potentially correct about why he was crying.

Over the next few days we persevere with keeping the boys in the same room and I become increasingly sleep deprived and emotionally labile as a result. That week, my husband develops what we think is a kidney infection. He has high fevers and a lot of pain. To top it all off the work on the bathroom has started and we discover that our entire drain system is, for want of a better word, f**ked, thanks to tree root erosion. My husband is somewhat out of action given his illness and so I am left to try and decipher what the drain man is telling me about complex plumbing. I look at him blankly and he patronisingly asks me how long I have lived at my property and why I don’t know what work has been done on the drains whist I’ve resided here. Feeling furious in my exhausted state, I snap back and say that him asking me to exhibit an outstanding knowledge of drains and intricate plumbing is somewhat similar to me (a doctor) asking him to explain to me the physiology of the kidney. When he realises that he cannot do this, I laugh and ask him how long he has had a kidney, because it’s definitely longer than the period of time over which I’ve lived at my current address, and jokingly tell him that he should be ashamed of himself for not knowing exactly how the thing works. I think he gets my point. Luckily my husband comes limping down the stairs to discuss the matter further with the drain man when he senses that things are escalating rapidly out of control thanks to me already being in a fractious state on account of little sleep.

As the week continues, my husband improves thanks to antibiotics from the GP and eventually he passes what we think is a kidney stone. He thinks he has got this due to being dehydrated thanks to working long shifts in hospital during the recent heatwave. The boys continue to share a room with varying results. Some nights go better than others. The worst is probably the Wednesday of that week when Edward wakes up virtually every hour and I feel as though I have barely slept at all by the morning. This results in marked emotional lability from me, and I am prone to crying over the most ridiculous of things. By the end of the week, things have caught up with me and my zombie-like appearance is not aided by the fact that I inadvertently put blusher on my forehead in my somnolent state in preparation for an early evening meal with the children.

We have formulated a plan for transporting the clan to dinner. This is to involve Nanny collecting Henry from nursery and then picking myself and Edward up from home. My husband will then meet us at the pub where we plan to dine. I am given the job of locking the house as we leave for dinner. With my arms full of bags of baby paraphernalia, my handbag and keys, and Edward himself, I lock the door and proceed to load all of the aforementioned into Nanny’s car. The evening is enjoyable and we laugh at Edward attempting to devour the menu (he’s at the stage of trying to eat everything at the moment) as we wait for the meals to be served. We say goodbye to Nanny outside the pub and she sets off on her way home. James and I take the kids home in order to bath and bed them. When we pull onto the drive, he asks me to move my car forwards (it has been reversed so as to allow the plumber working on the ensuite to get in and out of the garage with ease). This is when I discover that I can’t move my car because I have in fact lost my keys.

Panicking, I frantically search through my handbag, emptying the contents on to the front seat of my husband’s car as I go. However, I am soon forced to admit defeat. It is official, my keys are lost. I try to remember what I have done with them- I know the last time I remember having them was when I locked the house prior to putting Edward in the car. We realise there is nothing for it, we must retrace the entire journey to and from the pub, as well as enquire in the pub as to whether anyone has come across the keys. James and I are understandably irritated by the situation and we begin to bicker. He doesn’t know what he will do with me, I can’t be trusted with any possessions etc etc etc. We call Nanny, who searches her car to no avail. The keys are similarly nowhere to be seen on the drive, at any point on the route there and back, and no one has discovered them anywhere in the pub. In my heart I have a horrible feeling that I know what I’ve done with them. My husband snaps at me “you realise that if you’ve left them on the roof of my mum’s car they’re GONE?!” I reply that “of course I am aware of that, Einstein” or something to that effect. James tells me to take the kids home and get them ready for bed. He will then go and have a more thorough look on the route. To say we didn’t row would be a lie. However, once I sit down on the sofa with Henry, crying over my lost keys, I receive a phone call from Nanny who tells me she has had another look and she has located the lost keys. They are still on the roof of her car. James is apparently on the way to pick the keys up. We marvel at how on Earth said keys have managed to stay on the roof during a drive to the pub, throughout the duration of the meal and on the journey all the way back to Nanny’s house (the latter leg of the journey involves a drive through the city centre and down a considerable stretch of the M1) and all in torrential rain! It seems that although I was silly enough to put the keys on the roof whilst I strapped Edward in to the carseat in my exhausted state, someone was on my side that day. I was more than relieved to receive my resilient set of keys back later that evening. I think it’s safe to say I will never put them on a car roof ever again. Now I can truly relate to that song Where Me Keys, Where Me Phone? that was performed on Britain’s Got Talent a few years back, because now I have certainly been in that situation where I’ve lost my keys or my mobile phone.

By the weekend, we finally think we have cracked the new sleeping arrangement with the boys. They are sleeping much better and the nights seem less disrupted. On Sunday we enjoy an early meal at a local cafe and then venture home with the boys. After Edward does an enormous poo, which extends all the way up the length of his back to the nape of his neck, we give him an early emergency bath. Henry gets bathed shortly after this. Once the boys are in bed, my husband and I laugh about how it wouldn’t be a normal weekend without an epic poo explosion from one of the kids, then we proceed to put our feet up and watch a film together, smugly thinking we will get an early night after that and catch up on some much-needed sleep after the ordeals of our eventful week.

By the early hours of the morning I have lost count of the number of times I have been in to the boys’ room. My husband turns over and asks me what the f**k is going on- Edward has been crying for over an hour. I correct him and tell him that actually I have been in to the nursery to settle him about three times in the last hour. I have not just left him to cry, contrary to popular belief. My husband demands that I bring Edward in to the bedside cot as he simply cannot take any more crying coming over the monitor and he convinces me that Edward will be easier to settle if sleeping next to me. I reluctantly agree and go and fetch him from the nursery. As I place him in the bedside cot I can see in his eyes that he is on a mission to party tonight. He is wide awake and sports a grin from ear to ear (a grin featuring the single tooth with which he bit me last week, I hasten to add). He is kicking his legs excitedly and slamming them down on to the cot mattress whilst intermittently squealing in an ear piercing manner. My husband is tossing and turning and cursing under his breath that he has to be up in a few short hours and he can’t even retreat to the spare room because the en suite is being done, so he is well and truly stuck with this hullabaloo. He demands that I lean over the cot in a bid to soothe Edward to sleep by stroking his head. As I try this, Edward enthusiastically grabs my hair and yanks it forcefully, causing me to cry out in pain, thus disturbing my husband further. He then begins flicking a hairband I have stupidly left around my wrist. Growing in frustration, I simply tell him to be quiet. This annoys my husband, who reminds me that Edward is only 8.5 months old and so this strategy of mine is unlikely to prove effective. As Edward’s energetic spell continues, my husband and I begin arguing over who is entitled to the various items in the bed. Specifically, he accuses me of stealing all of the covers leading me to point out that actually I only have a small proportion of blanket across me. In retaliation, I accuse him of stealing all of the pillows. As we come round gradually from our semi-comatose state, we discover that we both actually have two pillows and that the one in the middle is in fact an extra pillow and so we are technically both entitled to use it. Saying no more, we try and go back to sleep (sharing the extra pillow) and figure that Edward will soon get bored and go to sleep himself. As we are drifting off we hear an ominous exploding sound and my husband jerks awake exclaiming “oh sh*t, he’s vomited!” Peering over the side of the cot I see that Edward, who is now crying, is indeed lying in a puddle of sick. Cursing, we conclude we must change the cot sheet. I have to confess to my husband that I have forgotten where we have put these since we have reshuffled the nursery (a further example of my rubbish memory and poor attention span according to him). After he indignantly reminds me where the sheets are now stored, we change the sheet and put Edward back in his cot with clear instructions to him to “go to sleep right now and stop f**king about, child!” (it seems my husband has also now disregarded the fact that an infant is unlikely to comprehend such instructions).

We must have all fallen asleep because the next thing I know the alarm is going off and it’s time to get up and get everyone ready. My husband and I analyse our activities from the previous day in order to try and decipher why it was that Edward found himself so full of beans in the small hours. We conclude that it was most likely due to consumption of a large quantity of e numbers during an evening meal we had at a nearby cafe. Edward had eaten a rather large helping of a waffle, which, in hindsight, was most likely loaded with sugar (hence why it tasted so good). After vowing we would never again be so foolish, my husband leaves for work. Meanwhile, I get Henry ready for nursery, addressing him first as Edward and then James, before finally correctly calling him Henry. About half an hour later my husband phones me and tells me he has bought a large coffee from the drive-thru Starbucks opposite his work. He is especially regretful about having been persuaded to invest in a Thermos coffee mug, which he has since realised was an unnecessary purchase, but he had panicked on the spot after realising he had forgotten his own Thermos. “See” I say patronisingly, “it’s not just me who is forgetful when they are sleep deprived.” Truculently, I put the phone down and head to the kitchen to make myself a very strong cup of coffee in my husband’s left-behind Thermos flask.

The boys asleep together in the nursery- how long will that last?!
Edward enjoying eating the menu prior to the key fiasco
Edward with his new tooth- the one with which he bit me!
The weekend wouldn’t be complete without an epic poo explosion!

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