A few mornings ago I woke-up feeling pretty cheery. After weeks and weeks of disrupted sleep it finally felt like moving H to her own room was starting to pay off. She had only needed attention three times (once for feeding, twice for settling) between 7pm and 6am. Then I got a message from my friend – her 8 week old son had ‘slept through’ from 9pm to 5am. She wasn’t telling me in any way other than a friend sharing an update. But I won’t lie, my heart sank a little. Be it a one-off or not, I was jealous.
Competitive comparison, both conscious and unconscious, is inevitably made between babies. It starts from the moment your child is born; The comparisons with other babies born at the same time, what your friends’ kids (or friends’ friends’ kids) did as babies, what you were like as a baby. Even if you personally avoid doing it, those around you make the comparisons. Of all things babies are likened on, sleep seems to be the top of the list. It’s the topic where the most comparisons are made; Everyone is striving for the sacred ‘Sleeping Through The Night’. Then at the opposing end of the scale there of course the poor parents who are so far from competing for the ‘Best Sleeping Baby’ award. These are the parents who have lost all faith that even 4 consecutive hours sleep is a far off dream. For those parents it becomes a competition of who has suffered and endured the most!
For the most part when a baby sleeps through, I’m certain all the parents feel are a mixture of joy and relief. Certainly that is how I felt on the one or two occasions when H has come close. (After the initial anxiety and tiredness of laying awake at her usual feeding time hoping she was still alive!) But despite this, when I hear this delightful news from friends to my ears it just sounds like a mixture of smugness and gloating. Having shared these feelings with other friends, I know I am not alone. In fact one of my NCT group almost didn’t come to our weekly meet-up a few weeks ago because her son was sleeping so badly. She didn’t think she could cope with listening to how well it was going for everyone else!
Of course deep down I am pleased when another mother finally gets to sleep, gets to feel human again. But until that happens to me, I know I’ll feel that resentment when someone tells me they’re finally getting some decent zzz’s. When the wonderful day finally happens in the Watling household (even if it’s just a one off to begin with), I think I’ll just keep it to myself and spare the feelings of those friends who are still waiting.