My eyes are bloodshot and my head is throbbing. There is sick in my hair and my throat is sore from singing half the night.
I swear that this is the last time.
I promise myself I will do something about it.
But myself has heard it all before.
And she knows I am full of shit.
Soon this darkness will be forgotten.
The sun will come up again and I will wonder how something so good could ever make me feel so bad.
I can't live without this feeling now. Of that I am sure.
I become the truest version of myself. I no longer care what I look like. I lose all track of time. I sing like no one is listening, I dance, I laugh and I love like I have never loved before.
"This is happiness." I think, as I launch into the second verse of Wheels on the Bus. "Life is good."
It is 4am.
Relentless exhaustion. Tears. Crying. I long for silence. I pray for sleep. I sing, I shush, I rock. I want to be alone. I can't do this. I want before again.
I chose this.
I wanted this.
I made my bed and now I am lying in it. Awake.
It is 6am.
I turn to face the reason for my 'hangover' and smile.
My baby who has kept me up all night smiles back and clambers on top of me for a cuddle.
My toddler bursts into the room, joins us in bed and kisses her little sister.
My tired head hurts but my heart melts.
One smile, one kiss, one strong coffee and the darkness disappears.
So you see, having babies gives you all the symptoms of a night out but without the booze...
Before I had children I was a connoisseur of the humble hangover. Back in the binge-drinking noughties I was what was commonly known as a 'lightweight'. One too many glasses of wine and I would be totally out of action the next day.
However, some of my old strategies for surviving the Day After The Night Before have come in very useful since having two babies who do not sleep!
Here is how to survive the morning after the night before (whether you have been nursing a baby or a beer):
1. If you have just woken up and feel fine be afraid, be very afraid. Chances are you are delirious with exhaustion or still buzzing with adrenaline from the night's activities. In fact, the better you feel in that first 10 minutes the worse you will feel later. Make the most of this temporary high to get coffee, supplies and get back into bed before the 'hangover' kicks in.
2. Get up. As much as your body is screaming 'do not leave this bed' the power of a shower and a teeth clean should never be underestimated. However, this process must never be rushed. I have been known to take two hours to make it into the living room. I find a slide and roll off the bed and onto the floor, then a slow shuffle into the bathroom is the best way to get started. Once you have had a shower, immediately lie down again to recover from the exertion.
3. Eat and drink. When you are sleep-deprived the last thing you feel like doing is eating. Just the thought of preparing food can seem like a massive undertaking. However, an empty stomach will just make you feel worse. I would recommend yoghurt, Weetabix, baby food or instant mashed potato. Not only are they easy to prepare, but you are spared the effort of having to chew.
4. Breastfeed if you can. Sure, we all know it is good for the baby but the BEST thing about breastfeeding is that once you are into the swing of it, it takes very little effort. As the tired mother of two sleep-hating babies the biggest benefit of breastfeeding for me, was that I could do it lying down. (OK, so if you have an alcohol hangover breastfeeding may not be the cure. Although, as breast milk apparently contains all manner of magical healing powers a few sips may be worth a go.)
5. Do not attempt to do anything that involves using your brain. One lunchtime, after a particularly sleepless night, I found myself staring blankly at a tin of beans because it didn't have a ring pull. I stood there for the best part of half an hour trying to process the fact that I would need to use a tin opener. Stick to uncomplicated activities, ideally ones that can be achieved while lying down.
If you have an alcohol hangover plus babies, your only option is to CALL FOR BACK UP. Some of the best parents I know have buckled under the strain of a hangover plus small children. Back up not an option? Then good luck my friend. You are going to need it.
If you have babies who do not sleep then you may want to check out my Survival Guide or feel free to read my No Sleep Solutions. Totally useless parenting advice but it is just good to know you are not ALONE!
More on Parentdish: Real confessions of sleep-deprived parents