Broken Nights,
Full Heart

by Ken Williams


I have never really understood the expression ‘To sleep like a baby’.

I’ve heard people using this expression to describe their own sleep. When asked how they’ve slept? They’ve replied, “Slept like a baby.”

This is where I don’t get it. Are they implying that they woke every hour on the hour screaming at the top of their lungs, soiled themselves continuously, needed to be fed every four hours, then patted on the back, picked up, cuddled and rocked, and had Mummy and Daddy sing to them every song ever written?  I think not.

Is it possible then that this expression implies they slept extremely well, perhaps took in a solid eight-hours, awoke refreshed and ready to start the day with a smile? Then, where the hell do you get those babies?

I bring up the subject because my wife has just informed me that we are having another baby. And I’m thrilled. I really am.

But, it’s only been in the last few weeks that I’ve been able to sleep an entire night through.

At present we have one child, Max, who is now two-and-a-half, and who now, at least for the most part, sleeps in his own room.

And as guilty as I feel for saying this, I’m enjoying my own side of the bed without being shaken from my sleep by a scream that would put Jimmy Barnes to shame.

I have my own space where I’m not constantly waking with a tiny foot resting on my chin or being pushed out of bed. It’s Bliss with a capital B. But, now my wife informs me that in around eight month’s time this Bliss will be over. I’ll be back to being a bleary eyed blathering zombie. Though my wife swears I was like that when she married me.

Of course, on the plus side, the idea of having a newborn around the house has brought back some wonderful memories. It’s funny how in just two and a half years you forget so much of the little things. Things such as that newborn scent; I wish I could somehow bottle the stuff for aromatherapy. 

There’s the fluff that magically appears between their delicate fingers. No matter how many times you wipe it out, more magically appears.

There’s the hours spent staring in wonder and disbelief at something so beautiful.

But then – yes here it comes – there’s the sleepless nights, the constant nappy changes, the sleepless nights, the worrying, and I don’t think I’ve mentioned the sleepless nights.

On top of this, the thought of a newborn stirred an emotion in me that I wasn’t expecting.
I feel rather silly even thinking about it. Perhaps it’s because I was raised as an only child that I initially felt this way. I don’t know.

My concern was how I’d be able to love another child as much as I love Max.
I mean, I love Max so much that my first thought was how can I share or divide that love with another child? A part of me still feels that it can’t be fair to Max.

And another part of me feels silly, even a little juvenile for thinking like that, and I guess until I meet this other person, a part of me won’t know.

However, my negative thoughts fade each day as my wife and I discuss the birth of our impending child. We talk about the fun stuff ahead, such as family outings to the park, where we’ll lay a blanket out under a shady tree and roll around laughing.

And we talk about the scary stuff, such as loading everything we own into the station-wagon just to go to the park and sit under a tree – remembering to pack enough nappies, wipes, dummies, clothes, stuffed toys, prams, and whiskey, I mean water, to get us through the experience.

Each time we talk I feel a surge of excitement that assures me I will love this person easily and unconditionally.

And when I see the joy on my wife’s face even now in the early stages of pregnancy; as she glows, I feel a tear touch my eyes and think of us together as a family, facing our dreams and hopes for the future. I become overwhelmed with the magic and the wonder of new life as something I can touch and hold and believe in. And I definitely want to be a big part of that.

Okay, that’s that. Now to the Stork that’s delivering our next bundle of ear-piercing joy.

Please, when you’re sorting through the pile, can we please, please, please have one of those babies that sleep through the night? If indeed there is such a thing?


© Ken Williams
This story was originally published in The Child magazines.

“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*

I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.

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* Gloria Steinem