So we actually, finally, went through with it. We are on the other side of Night One. Here’s how it went.
7 pm-7.30 pm: bathed Maja, told her that if she woke up during the night, Apa would be there for her. I swear, she knew exactly what I was telling her – she expressed her opinion of the plan with a scornful ‘Nem’ (Hungarian ‘No’, of course). It had a kind of a ‘Yeah right; is that your idea of a joke?’ tone to it. We disregarded this opinion. We put her to bed.
9.30 pm: I went to sleep in the boy’s room and Mr A went to sleep in the girls’ room. Huh – weird. (By the way – that’s a model example of how to use possessive apostrophes.)
11 pm-ish, soon after I finally managed to get to sleep (I kept anticipating, you know?): the moment arrived. Fussing, some moaning, a little bit of thumping. The inevitable ‘… Mummy …?’ I heard Mr A go to her and explain that Mummy was sleeping (ha!) and that he was there to help. She expressed her opinion somewhat more scornfully. And then she screamed. She screamed and screamed and screamed. The sort of screaming that hurts your throat. At intervals, she screamed my name: ‘Mummeeeeeeee!’ And sometimes she screamed for milk: ‘Moooook!’ And sometimes she screamed her own name, coz she does that: ‘Maja mooooooook!’
11 pm-11.30 pm-ish (we didn’t time it; it could have been shorter?) The screaming continued. I lay there in the dark with my breasts tingling, feeling guilt (‘this is not natural; this is not what a good mother does’) and sadness (‘this is what my family would look like if I died suddenly’ – yes, I actually mourned my own hypothetical death) and fear (that she would vomit or choke from the crying).
11.30 pm: I heard Mr A tell her he’d pick her up and walk with her, like he used to when she was a little baby. Very quickly, the screaming stopped, and all I could hear was that loud hiccupy breathing that follows a massive Ferber-y cry-it-out, and thereafter silence.
2 am, maybe? And again at 4 am, maybe?: she woke again and whimpered, but it was so minimal that I only heard it in a liminal state; I was mostly asleep in that big, strange (somewhat smelly) boy’s bed, and I slept and slept till morning.
6.30 am: Life in our little household was suddenly a mirror image of the norm. I heard a shuffling and a snuffling and the occasional thumping from the girls’ room, and instead of calling out ‘Apa!’ my little girl called out ‘Mummy!’ And I went in to her, after the first night I have ever slept in a room where she was not, and I went to her with the biggest, showiest ‘HEEEEEEY beautiful girl, Mummy is here! Mummy LOVES YOU!!’. And she turned to Apa and asked him if she could watch some TV.
Parenthood, you can be a cruel bastard.