{The Ordinary Moments 15} #40 ‘Tossing and Turning, and the Night Time Visitor.

My eyes spring open and take a few seconds to adjust to the darkness around me. I don’t need to look at my phone to check the time, I can guarantee it will be around 4am, but I look regardless- it’s 4.26am. I wait for the inevitable to happen, the way my mind begins to race, the fact that all sort of different thoughts start flowing and that I just can’t switch off.

For the last few weeks I have been having real trouble sleeping. I am quite a light sleeper at the best of times, but I have been waking in the early hours of the morning and not getting back to sleep for a good couple of hours. Usually in fact I fall back asleep just in time to get into a deep sleep and then have to wake up to start the day. Some of the time I head back off to the land of nod relatively quickly, but most of the time my mind is so awake, so active, and I just can’t escape my thoughts. Sometimes my thoughts aren’t necessarily bad, I just think of things going on, things I have to do in the week, or even just happy things. But a lot of the time it is when my anxiety is at it’s worst. I find myself thinking of the most far fetched things, and I lie in the dark and my heart races and my mind goes into over drive.

I have suffered from mild anxiety for most of my life. In fact I wouldn’t even say during the best times that it is even anxiety, more that I am just a worrier and I worry about the slightest little things. In periods throughout my life it has got a lot worse, when Mads was born and was a week old we went to get her up from a sleep, and found that she was floppy and not breathing. That’s another long story entirely, but that was when it was at it’s worst, I spent the next few months of her life setting an alarm every hour in the night to check on her and my Mum even took me to the doctors as she was so worried about me.

I am not stressed at the moment, in fact I couldn’t be happier, but for some reason my night time waking and overactive mind have been getting the better of me. We have lots going on here at the moment, we are really busy and have lots of things happening, but I think more than anything I have just got myself into a bit of a pattern. Worries and fears seem exaggerated and large at 4 in the morning, yet when you wake up in the cold light of day they are just pushed to the back of your mind, there but hardly present. Hopefully it will stop soon. Anyway back to my story…

So it’s 4.26am in the morning and usually I would have my husband in the bed with me. Inevitably I usually tap him (poor man) and ask him to swap sides with me, as for some reason a change of scenery sometimes helps me get back to sleep. But he isn’t there this evening, instead I look to my left and can hardly see the visitor sleeping beside me. She is bundled up in the duvet, almost half way down the bed, the two pillows tossed aside unused. I can hear her breathing, slowly and in a perfect rhythm, and for some reason it’s mildly comforting. I lift up her blue and white stripy pyjama t-shirt and feel the warmth of her back on my hand.

My biggest girl. The one who when she knew that Daddy was away for the evening was absolutely desperate to sleep in with Mummy and have a sleepover. The one whose absolute favourite treat is to sneak into our bed and cuddle us close, sandwiched in between us with her limbs draped over whoever happens to be in her target. For a long time our children rarely came in our bed, they have both slept through the night from a young age, and as I was strict about their night time routine there was never really a chance for them to sleep with us. The only exceptions were if they were sick and we therefore had to clean up their beds in the middle of the night, and in fact LL has never slept with us as she isn’t as cuddly as her big sister. But after a bout of illness a few months ago Mads realised that sleeping in with us was rather nice and so once every couple of weeks as a treat we let her come in our bed for the night, usually on a weekend. She goes to sleep in her own bed as otherwise LL would be hysterical that her sister wasn’t there, but we get her when we come to bed and pop her sleepily into ours. She absolutely loves it and her little face is a picture of happiness when we let her.

But this particular night it is just myself and her. In my awake state at 4.26am I just stare at her for a few minutes. I can’t see her face, she is lying on her tummy, with her unruly curls splayed out all around her. She is perfection. At least she is what I perceive as perfection. Especially when she is asleep, she has this innocence about her, and I could watch her all night long. She stirs and rolls over so I can now make out the outline of her features, her beautiful long eyelashes frame her face, they flutter as she stirs under my touch. I go to move my hand which was still on her back but is now on her tummy, and she grabs it and strokes it gently with her own, almost as if to say ‘leave it there Mummy.’ Even though she is asleep, she is still incredibly affectionate and she needs me.

She is a complex character this big girl of mine. At nearly 5 she is still completely innocent, yet she is on the cusp of becoming a little wiser about the world around her. School will make her grow up, in fact almost a month in, I would say it already has a little. If I am completely honest, I am finding her little sister a lot easier than her at the moment. Mads is a good girl for the most part, but she is harder work at this age. She can be really hyper at times, as well as having her moments of not listening and testing the boundaries. But the thing about her that makes her just wonderful is her warmth and affection- she is so cuddly and sweet, and almost a little needy- whereas her sister is happy to play on her own Mads constantly wants to be near you and seeking your reassurance.

I cuddle in close to her. She has this smell. They both do. Mads always smells fresh like soap, mixed with adventures, mischief and fun. LL has always smelt of honey, we call her our little honey head. She whispers to me in her sleepy state ‘Mummy you are more beautiful than all the princesses’, she has said this to me a few times recently, it is her latest thing to say, but it doesn’t make hearing it often any less sweeter. She sees me, my big girl. I look at her at times, and I can see the pride and love in her eyes. To her, I am enough. She doesn’t see my failings, she doesn’t see my worries, she just sees me. Her Mummy.

These girls of mine exaggerate my worries. That’s inevitable. A mother’s worry begins from the second you realise you have a tiny heart beating inside you. That tiny heartbeat instantly becomes more important than your own. And then they are born and they grow and grow and the worries become different, but stronger. We will never not worry about their happiness and of course their health. It’s as if our own relies on theirs.

Lying with my big girl, cuddling close together, it is almost as if she helps me see more clearly. We can’t stop life’s worries, or stresses, or fears. We can’t predict the future, nor change it, but we can change the present. I can try not to lose my patience over small things, I can play one more game of Peppa Pig Snakes and Ladders instead of washing up the dirty dishes, I can stop looking down at my phone instead of at my girls playing kitchens and serving up endless rounds of wooden cake. I can be better than I am now, even if to them I am everything they need.

My biggest girl pulls me in even closer to her, and lets out a deep, contented sigh. I can feel her little heart beating next to mine. And it is as if my overactive thoughts just disappear, if only for this one night. We snuggle close, myself and her, and at that precise moment it’s the only thing we need.

It’s the only thing that matters.

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Some unrelated photos but I just love them.



26 Comments

  • Oh Katie I am crying. This is beautiful. I’m sorry you’ve had this anxiety. I have these weeks too and I hate being such a worry wart about things, I wish I could be more like my hub. Such a gorgeous post, I think perhaps one of my faves of yours ever xx

  • Carie says:

    Oh Katie what a beautiful post. I’m so sorry that your mind is doing overtime in the wee small hours but you’re quite right about how our children show us what really matters and how some worries are just worries.

  • Suzanne says:

    I can sometimes be very like you at night time – why do thoughts often seem so dark in the middle of the night? What a precious moment with your girl. I hope she remains cuddly and affectionate. Always. X

  • Hannah says:

    What a beautiful post. I have mild anxiety at times too, and end up tossing and turning in the night, normally with something silly on my mind that I cant shake, and that ive almost forgotten by morning! Mads is such a beautiful, affectionate and thoughtful little girl, they do help us put things into perspective. Xxx

  • Donna says:

    I’ve never really been a worrier so when I do worry it really takes me out of the blue and the dirsturbed sleep is just so hard to deal with. Neither A nor T slept well as babies, and neither slept through the night until way after I stopped breastfeeding – I think they were both 15 months when they regularly slept through. So I have spent a lot of time with babies in my bed and now every morning that LP wakes before us she’ll come and climb into bed and have a snuggle. T waits in his bed when he wakes up and if it’s early I’ll bring him into our bed for cuddles too – our bed is one of our favourite places! x

  • Ah my girl has defo changed in the few weeks of being at school. She seems a bit more with it. A bit more chatty and a bit more grown up. I tend to have a sleepover with her every few weeks as I miss her so much. We are such saps! x

  • Oh Katie this is absolutely beautiful. I love having Zach in our bed but we try not to let him too often as we want him to feel comfortable in his own bed. It means when he comes in ours its such a treat and I love watching him sleep next to us. xx

  • Jenny says:

    They aren’t totally unrelated photos they are gorgeous cuddly photos hahaha I love them too. OH bless you hunny I have suffered from over active imagination and brain running amuck. Maybe that’s just bad terminology for anxiety for me too. So I can relate so much to this babes. It’s tough to shut it off and some days I look like I haven’t been to bed because my brain decided to have a party all night and I started keeping a notebook and pen next to the pen and jump up and write a bunch of things down on my list sometimes it makes it worse and sometime I lay back down and I am back out. I hate those mornings you get back to bed and then it’s time to get up only minutes later. grr. So lovely to have a snuggle partner. Mr P is away for nine days and I never have had ours sleep with us either. We are strict on routines but B ended up with me in mine first time ever about 6:30 as we have all been really sick and it was just nice to have that comfort from your child. There is nothing that makes me feel more at peace than that. What a beautiful post and I hope you get sleep soon and the worries trail away. 🙂 xo

  • Katie says:

    The sleep thing, I get the exact same. It was horrendous when F was little and I had to go on sleeping pills for a bit. I still get insomnia on and off and like you it’s always early waking stuff, I try and tell myself there is no conseqence and the worst that will happen is i will be tired and that helps a bit. I’ve not had it for ages actually but just the other night I got it again – so annoying I just wish i was one of those people who can fall asleep anywhere x

  • What a lovely post. I’m just like you – always waking up between 4 and 5 worrying about silly things. When I think about them in the cold light of day it seems crazy that they would wake me up, but they always do! My daughter loves sharing a bed with me (and she doesn’t snore like her Daddy!) – we usually have a ‘ladies’ room’ when we stay in a hotel as it’s impossible to get a room for five!

  • Oh Katie you always have such a beautiful way of writing things that just tugs at my heartstrings. I too am a light sleeper and suffer with anxiety so i’m used to those early morning wakeups as well, sometimes it would just be nice to completely switch off and sleep right through but i don’t see that happening any time soon. We have far too much to worry and think about as busy mamas xxx

  • Ali says:

    ah what a lovely post. I’m sorry you are having trouble sleeping but how awesome that little Mads was a comfort to you x I know that you do a lot of running – maybe up it a little bit – exercise might help you sleep better x

  • Such a beautiful post Katie. I know exactly how you feel. I get a knot in my stomach frequently and it can cause sleepless nights but remembering that you are the world to someone really helps to bring perspective. Hopefully you start sleeping better soon x

  • This is such a beautiful emotive post. I am a deep sleeper but if I am anxious and I wake then I am done for, my brain, like you, goes mad and I have a hard time getting back to sleep. I have always been a worrier and PND over the last couple of years has made it worse. You are totally right our kids are all that matters xx

  • This is just beautiful!! I’ve never been a worrier until I became a mum. In fact, since having Sienna my anxiety levels are really high. I too find myself awake in the night, usually after feeding Sienna. I don’t enjoy Ella being in bed with us during the night, as she’s so wriggly and I really struggle to sleep. So we tend to avoid it or one of us will sleep in the spare bed so there’s a bit more room. I’ve got to admit though. Waking up with her in bed with us is so lovely! I completely understand the smell thing! Xx

  • We are experiencing the “hyper” thing a bit at the moment. I was warned about it and it does seem to come as a result of a whole day at school behaving and concentrating. Oh and worries are always FAR worse in the middle of the night, if you are anything like me, both of you working for yourselves can’t help either, I always worry about money, but I am *slowly* learning to relax a bit and accept that the worst that could happen is not actually that bad… (it only took me about 20 years)

  • Honest mum says:

    Oh Katie sending so much love, totally relate to this, we are all spinning so many plates… I go through anxious periods too, do you know what helped me hugely with sleep, switching off. My fab friend Helen of Mummy Mode advised me to switch off the laptop and phone completely by 8pm (my GP friend said 9 at a push) and I stopped getting nightmares, sleeping better and relaxing at night. I’ve literally never had better sleep. The phone light affects our brains, keeps us stimulated and interrupts sleep-plus, as we work online, a world that never sleeps, it becomes so hard to switch off. It becomes addictive and all consuming. Plus, we’re creatives too so our achilles heel is the fact we’re sensitive and care so much (not really a bad thing, part and parcel of being creative) but it can get full-on at times. I’ve also found low GI way of eating, limiting sugar and doing yoga really helps. I recently discovered Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube which is so accessible and fun and quick too, she even does a video of yoga in a chair. Finally, I cannot live without Rescue Remedy, a few sprays and it really relaxes me, stops those panicky feelings and has gotten me through everything from uni to weddings and babies. Here if you need to chat xx

  • Mary says:

    I don’t know why I feel so emotional reading this Katie, it makes me want to give you a big hug and tell you there are a lot of people like you, because I am worrier too and can completely relate to your thoughts and behaviours, and see on here other mummies are too. Of course it makes us susceptible to a level of anxiety, and its so weird how we cope with that…I will not check on the kids at night since Poppy died at fear ill find them not breathing or something terrible and I too can’t sleep well whenever there is something on my mind. I find though that being a worrier makes me more sensitive to others and not a hard person but friendly and loving, so its not a bad thing you have these traits – it softens you and helps you empathise with others!

    You have a beautiful family and its amazing how aware our kids are of us and just want to snuggle and reassure us.. I think they remind us how simple life is and how complicated growing up makes it seem. Have you tried Valerian? Its a plant that helps with relaxing and sleep – you can buy it as a tablet in boots and I have it in Clippers sleep easy herbal tea before bed when im particularly troubled.

  • There’s something about waking up in the middle of the night… it does something to your brain, tiny things become huge and incredibly urgent. I’m normally a great sleeper, my husband’s the worrier but lately (in the past few weeks) I’ve been waking at around 4am and the things that pop into my head is such crazy! I literally almost got out of bed to check the door was locked the other night.

    This is such a beautiful post, and sounds like your big girl knows when she’s needed. Bless her!! xx

  • Notmyyearoff says:

    Its crazy what we think about at night isn’t it? Z is going through a testing phase too and I wonder if its all the big massive changes with school ad becoming more independent. We can’t wind him down in the evenings and then we know he’s tired in the mornings because of it. He’s like a little teen at times. I love your description of them though, the smelling of fresh adventures and honey, that’s so so lovely. I hope the anxiety fades away and stays faded xx

  • Lovely post Katie, it must be something about being a parent (dads as wells as mums) – maybe it’s the responsibility, or possibly that fact that our days are so busy we don’t have time to process all the information in our brains and so the night is when things get filed away.

    The ‘4am shift’ is a familiar one for me also, but I recommend to anyone they try Mindfulness Meditation to help focus the mind away from those annoying thoughts and rationalise the anxieties that come into our heads in the middle of the night. There are some good guided meditations you can download for free on the internet and plenty of reading material around.

  • This is just so beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. I’m new to your blog and your writing is just outstanding. You capture everything that is beautiful and wonderful and exceptional and just lovely about being a Mama and having children. And your girls are indeed gorgeous – the more unrelated photos the better in my opinion!

  • This piece of writing is stunning Katie… Absolutely stunning… And exactly why your blog is one I come back to time and time again. You are so right about mothers worrying the moment that tiny heartbeat starts. Everything always seems worse at night. I can totally relate! A beautiful piece… xxx

  • I totally relate to this pet… anxiety is a horrible thing isn’t it? It manifests itself when we least expect it and really takes a hold sometimes. You’ve had a lot on your plate recently — plus your house extension will be on your mind too, I bet. Things like that weight heavy on the subconscious, when sometimes we don’t even realise it. We’re so, so lucky to have these gorgeous, amazing little people of ours aren’t we? They really put things into perspective and gives us a clear purpose. Big kiss to you, hope you get back into a more settled sleep rhythm soon xx

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