My daughter has moved out and I can’t help feeling a little bereft.
She’s only gone down the hallway but the gulf seems vast, especially in the middle of the night when I have to trudge to her room to answer her cries.
The time had come, and as I got the nursery ready for that first night apart I felt like we had reached an important milestone and I should consider it some sort of achievement.
She’s nearly seven months and her cot has been sitting fully-assembled, made up and empty, in the spare room of the house we bought specifically because we were having a baby, for several weeks now.
On the evenings she did go down relatively easily and we savoured some time to ourselves downstairs – vacantly watching trash TV and chomping biscuits or swallowing wine – it did feel a chore to creep into our room without waking her up again.
We’d stumble in the half dark towards the bed, stubbing our toes, muttering expletives and then freezing, as in a game of Musical Statues, while she turned her head and snorted, before sliding with relief past the crib as her breathing pattern became steady once again.
Night feeds aside, we were woken before 6am every day by a dawn chorus of babbling, kicking and a rather disturbing noise made by her enjoyment of scratching at the canvas sides, which bore an unfortunate resemblance to the sound of a rodent making its home in the corner of the room.
So I thought I’d relish reclaiming my territory again, and foolishly dreamed of getting a quiet night’s sleep.
But it seemed so empty without her snuffling away at the foot of the bed.
The sound of silence hanging all around us was far more disturbing.
And despite having the baby monitor right next to my head, I couldn’t help getting paranoid if things were too quiet for too long, and had to pop in to check she was still breathing.
My separation anxiety didn’t last long though.
The first night she woke five times, despite all the precautions I had taken including blackout blinds and white noise-making animals.
On the second night she decided at 2.30am that she was quite ready to start the day, staring up at me with big wide eyes, smiling and chattering away.
By 4.30am, having failed in my attempts to persuade her it was in fact bed time, I gave up and brought her into our bed.
I lay down exhausted, drifting in and out of consciousness to the sound of her pounding the mattress with her feet and squawking her favourite vowel sounds with gusto, while simultaneously poking at my face.
When things finally went quiet I cracked an eye open to see her sprawled like a starfish in the middle of the bed, snoring victoriously.
Our boarders were breached, we had been invaded, and I surrendered.
Anything in the name of peace!