So I’ve been talking a lot lately with friends who are parents about sleep deprivation. I don’t think I really understood how bad it would be until I had a baby. I also mistakenly thought it would only last for a short while at that beginning newborn stage and then would get better.
Simply put, I was wrong.
There are days I get a blissful 3 or even 4 hour stretch of sleep in a row. These days are far and few between. Some people have babies who “sleep through the night” from an early age (it should be noted that this is defined as 5 hours in a row, normally from midnight to 5am or so for babies). Not mine.
We are in a bit of a catch-22 situation now. We co-sleep because we breastfeed and it is the quickest way to get her back to sleep in the middle of the night. She wakes up, puts up a fuss, I roll over and offer the breast and it is a quick nursing and back to sleep for both of us. No getting up (most nights). No trying to put a baby back into a crib and not wake them after you’ve gotten them back to sleep.
However, because we co-sleep, my presence in the bed with her is most likely ALSO the source of her frequent waking. I mean really… why sleep through when you can wake up and have a snack at the all night diner? It is warm, ready and waiting 24/7 and your most favorite and delicious treat. Plus it makes you happily sleepy again and you can drift off to sleep in comfort? So, yup, I am in a bit of a difficult situation now. I also have thought about letting her “CIO” (Cry It Out for the non-parents among you who are reading this). The idea of getting her to fall asleep on her own, in her beautiful currently unused crib, and then sleep for many hours straight is extremely appealing. I’m not going to lie about that. But the few times I’ve let her cry, even for a short while, it tore me apart. So even knowing full well that some short-term crying could mean long-term salvation for my sleep deprived brain, I just can’t bear to do it. Yet.
I am not completely opposed to the idea, but I do admit that every time I read another article or story on how babies crying is not good for them, I cling to that article and notion as a way to justify my reluctance to do CIO. So although it would appear I AM a sissy when it comes to CIO, I can truly say that I am a trooper when it comes to dealing with sleep deprivation.
I must say that I now realize also why they use sleep deprivation tactics to wear down prisoners of war. I am starting to believe my Mommy brain may never fully recover from the ongoing lack of sleep. My language skills are languishing sadly. I am very forgetful. I babble. I am clumsy. More clumsy than ever before as my battered and bruised body can attest. At least the upside of this is that my daughter has recently taken to finding my pain hilarious. She giggled hysterically when I banged my knee on the table and was gasping for breath. Then every time I said “ouch” she giggled even harder til I thought for sure she would pee her diaper (thank God for cloth diapers!). At least there are upsides to everything it would seem. 🙂
The toughest part of all, however, would be trying to share in the “go to sleep” duties with my husband. My hubby, bless his heart, tries to help out when he can hear on the monitor that the baby isn’t sleeping. However, sometimes his timing is just the worst! I’ll be letting her roll around babbling, hoping she’ll tire herself out and go back to sleep without requiring the assistance of my breasts. Then sure enough, just as she has finally rolled onto her stomach and laid down her head to rest… he will appear in the bedroom, ready to save the day in any way he can help. Up pops her head, excited and ready to play. Daddy’s here! Hooray! I silently curse in my head and plead with him to sneak back out of the room silently so she’ll go back to sleep. Then in comes the dog. Click, click, click go her toenails on the floor. Another excited gasp from the baby and she tries desperately to crawl toward the sound while still trapped in her baby sleep sack. I bury my head in the pillow and groan at this point. I will apparently be starting again at ground zero trying to get her back to sleep.
I love my husband SO much for wanting to help. I know, too, that this too shall pass. It is my current catch phrase and I am sure it will remain as such for a long time to come. In any case, we will figure it out. I feel terrible, too, for being so frustrated when he has bad timing like that. It isn’t his fault. It really isn’t anyone’s fault. And she does, in time, go back to sleep. She can’t stay awake forever. I am also sure that if I got more sleep on a regular basis I wouldn’t be so frustrated by such things.
Thankfully my hubby is a patient man when it comes to me and his family. It is a big adjustment becoming parents later in life. I am so happy we met, though, and sleep deprivation and frustrations aside, at the end of the day, I am glad he is my husband and partner and that we have this pretty terrific baby to love.
Now if only we could get some sleep. 🙂
As my Belly Buddy would say… the time she finally sleeps through the night (STTN), we will have to have a party. But it will be a slumber party! LOL. Well said little mama g, well said!