Two of the bed hoppers

Two of the bed hoppers

Last week, I noticed that Vegemite was looking tired. Not just worn out from a few late nights during her school holidays, but exhausted, with big, black smudges under her eyes. I realised that although she seems to sleep through Lil Z waking up during the night (Vegemite could probably sleep through a marching band parading through her bedroom) she isn’t getting as much good quality sleep as she needs.

This also coincided with discovering that Lil Z has pneumonia. I’m not sure if it has been the pneumonia causing the sleep problems all along – I sort of doubt it. But, the fact that she had pneumonia – and the implications of that on her long-term health – got me anxious.

So, I decided that I would move Vegemite into our bedroom for a night to make sure she had a solid night’s sleep. And that would also leave her bed, in the girls’ bedroom, free if I needed to move closer to Lil Z. How was I to know the crazy chain of events that I would set off, resulting in more bed-hopping that a French romantic comedy.

It all sounded so logical. Vegemite was excited to ‘camp out’ in our room and dragged a spare mattress, some blankets and her vast menagerie of stuffed animals across the hall into our bedroom. QB was pleased that she wanted to sleep on the floor, because Vegemite has the habit of turning into a starfish when she falls asleep, and even a queen sized bed is too small to share with her.

At bedtime, it all seemed to go swimmingly. The girls had a bath and Lil Z went to bed (with a Slinky Malinky story) at 7pm. Vegemite got a bit more time with us before going downstairs to read a few chapters of “James and the Giant Peach”. She loved the fact she could lay on her mattress while listening to the story.

Ben, who is not allowed on furniture, was excited to see that Vegemite was sleeping closer to the floor and curled up next to her mattress. Everyone was happy and went to sleep fairly quickly. Ben got bored when Vegemite fell asleep, so came back upstairs to sleep at his usual post at the top of the stairs.

Around 10.30pm, QB and I went downstairs to get ready for bed. Ben went into his crate in Lil Z’s bedroom. I decided that since Lil Z had been sleeping so peacefully for 3 hours, I would try to sleep in my own bed… And then the bed-hopping comedy routine began:

10.30pm: Lil Z gets her Motilium. I then have to wait 15 minutes for the Motilium to kick in before she can have the rest of her nighttime drugs. I then have to wait another 10 minutes for the drugs to settle in her stomach before starting her overnight feed.

11.30pm – In between giving Lil Z her meds and feed, I read a book on my iPad. I get a bit caught up in it, so it isn’t until 11.30pm that I turn off the lights and go to sleep.

11.31pm – Lil Z starts coughing. I go into her bedroom, pat her back and suction the goo that she is bringing up. She settles and I go back to my bed.

11.35pm – Lil Z starts coughing. I go into her bedroom, pat her on the back, suction her. She settles and I wait a few minutes before going back to bed.

11.40pm – More coughing. Repeat procedure.

11.45pm – And more coughing. Another patting and suctioning repeat.

11.50pm – I give up the idea of sleeping in my own bed and climb into Vegemite’s bed. Lil Z falls asleep and so do I.

1.45am – I wake from a deep sleep with a start when Vegemite taps on my shoulder. She pitifully says that she thinks she has had an accident in her bed while she was asleep. The sheets don’t feel damp, nor do her pajama bottoms, but she is convinced it happened. Giving up trying to convince her otherwise, I help her change pajamas and put her to bed in her own bed – rather than changing the sheets on her mattress.

2am – I return to my bed to discover our cat, Juno, has taken over my side of the bed. She digs her claws in and doesn’t want to move. I finally kick her out of bed and she stalks over to Vegemite’s bed. She finds something that makes a crinkly noise and kneads it with her paws.

2.10am – No sooner am I back in my bed, about to fall asleep, than Lil Z starts coughing again. And crying. I get her up and take her out of the bedroom, so she won’t wake Vegemite (who is already fast asleep). We sit in the study and I rock her and pat her back until she starts to fall asleep again. I put her back to sleep and return to my bed – where once again, Juno has taken over.

2.15am – After evicting an annoyed cat, who returns to making the crinkly noise by Vegemite’s mattress, I climb into my side of the bed and fall asleep.

2.30am – I can hear sounds of Lil Z scratching her ears and whimpering. I go to her bedroom, cuddle and pat her, put her in a different position to sleep. She is calm, so I go back to bed and once again evict the cat.

2.45am – Repeat the above.

3am – Repeat the above.

4am – Sounds of Lil Z coughing wake QB and he gets up with her.

4.15am – After QB’s second trip to the girls’ bedroom, he moves Vegemite from her bed into his side of our bed. He then tries to sleep in Vegemite’s bed. The cat, deciding it is a good time to be fed breakfast, begins a campaign of sharpening her claws on the carpet in an attempt to make me get up. I ignore her.

5.15 – QB gets up, lets Ben out of his crate and feeds Juno breakfast. While he is upstairs, Lil Z starts coughing and vomits – I get up to deal with her. I clean her up and get her resettled. Then I climb into Vegemite’s bed.

6am – More coughing from Lil Z, I deal with it. I return to my bed in my bedroom, hopefully that Lil Z will now go back to sleep for a while, like she usually does in the morning.

6.30am – QB brings me a cup of tea and tells me that he’s leaving for work. I have the idea of drinking my tea in bed while catching up with Facebook on my iPad and enjoying a few quiet moments before the girls wake up. I take a sip of my tea and reach for my iPad…

6.31am – Vegemite wakes up and asks if she can play a game on my iPad.

6.32am – Lil Z starts coughing…

According to the Fitbit bracelet that Gavin got me for Christmas, I got up 19 times between 11.30pm and 6.45am. Nineteen times! And according to my calculations, three people slept in Vegemite’s bed, two in QB’s side of the bed, and two in my side of the bed (if you count the cat). French comedies have nothing on us…. (well, apart from the expressive shrugs and that indifferent ‘umph’ noise that only French people can make).

Fortunately, our bed-hopping routine has stabilised since that night… I have been sleeping in Vegemite’s bed – with no attempt to sleep in my own bed. And Vegemite is sleeping on her mattress in our bedroom – while remembering to go to the bathroom before bed. It has lasted a bit longer than the ‘one or two nights’ I originally intended, but at least we’re all getting more sleep than before.

Vegemite looks less tired and the black smudges under her eyes have disappeared. And after a week of antibiotics, Lil Z is starting to sleep better at night – apart from 2-3am, which seems to be ‘the coughing hour’.

I am hoping that soon we can all return to our own beds. And maybe even try sleeping through the whole night.


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