I woke up in the middle of the night recently with a sinking feeling. It turns out that I had, in fact, sunk. My air mattress had sprung a leak, and I was lying on the living room floor with a crick in my neck. “OWWW,” I whimpered. “WAHHHH,” screamed the baby from the bedroom. “NOOOO!” yelled my wife from the couch. “WOOOOF,” barked my dog from his bed in the corner.
This, to be clear, was not a normal night in the Mahdawi household. It was a night of wretched desperation. For the past few months, my wife and I have not slept. That’s what happens when you have a baby: you don’t sleep. You wipe drool off yourself constantly, while daydreaming about eight solid hours of rest. Some babies helpfully oblige with this and sleep through the night early on; ours did not. So, after several months of severe sleep deprivation we decided we were going to sleep train our child. Our one-bedroom apartment is not an ideal place to sleep train an infant, but we decamped to the living room and tried to let the kid “cry it out” in our room. In the end, we cried it out in the living room while the baby screeched it out in the bedroom.
I am glad to report that the kid is sleeping a little bit better now. Alas, I am not. You know what’s funny? Not so long ago I used to feel guilty about how much I slept. In the years BK (Before Kid) I used to set my alarm for an ambitiously early hour and then hit snooze over and over until several hours had passed and I had finally mustered the energy to get up. These days I don’t even bother setting an alarm. I just know I’ll be up at 6am whether I like it or not. I am a morning person now and I hate it.
Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist