In the past month or two, we have been attempting to battle our chronic sleep deprivation with some strategies to push our 12 month old’s first nighttime feeding back. It has taken weeks to inch her wake-ups back, due to our desire to keep our techniques as gentle as possible. One feeding at a time has been our motto. At this age, we don’t really believe that Sophie is hungry anymore, but nursing is her comfort method of choice, and it has always worked like a charm to get her back to sleep quickly. The problem is, waking up every two hours leaves me feeling like an irritable basketcase who has trouble completing simple tasks and even experiences difficulty with word-finding. Not an ideal side effect when writing is my coping mechanism.
|Maybe we should just start sleeping in the car every night|
We have discovered that whatever method we try- rocking, patting, hair-smoothing, and even closing the door for minutes at a time while she wails- will cause our one year old distress that ranges from intermittent whimpering (tolerable) to flat out screaming (heart-wrenching.) The only thing that will make her stop crying is nursing. We had reached the point where she could make it consistently from 7 until 1 or even 2 in the morning without nursing- a huge accomplishment and a long stretch of sleep that would be more helpful if Mommy actually went to bed at 7 pm. From that point on, she is welcome to nurse as often as she likes. Our goal for last night: try whatever strategy necessary to get her to go back to sleep at 1 or 2, besides nursing, thereby pushing her first wake-up a bit later.
Nap Number One: 10:00- 11:24 1.5 hours
11:24: Sophie wakes up. Well, shit. We weren’t expecting that. A rather big step backwards from our goal wake-up time of 1:00. The husband pats her back to sleep, which works for about twenty minutes. She spends the next hour dozing and fussing periodically.
12:30: Sophie begins to freak out. Her hysterical cries are laced with outrage and betrayal. Mommy cannot have that. I spend the next thirty minutes patting her bottom and smoothing her hair, which works for 5-10 minute increments until she detects a change in my movement.
1:00: Mommy folds. I bring Sophie to bed to nurse. The husband’s snoring causes me to become nearly apoplectic, and I implore him to sleep downstairs on the couch. He obliges, and I leave the baby next to me in bed, where we now have ample room to stretch out.
Nap Number Two: 1:30-4:30. 3 hours
4:30: This is big news! A whole three hours of sleep! Fantastic. Perhaps this night will not be a total bust after all.
4:45: I see my six year old, comically draped in a fleece blanket that covers her head, shuffle in to use my bathroom. Mercifully, she shuffles back out without communicating with me.
5:00: The disturbing blanket encased lump reappears at the side of my bed. To my dismay, she is trying to climb in next to me and her sister. This is not okay. I begin to hiss at her to go back to bed, desperate that the baby remain asleep. She informs me that she is having a scary dream. I scramble out of my bed and call down the stairs to my husband that I need his help. Groggily he returns upstairs to join Izzy in her bed.
Nap Three: 5:00-5:30 .5 hours
5:30: Sophie wakes up to nurse. Of course.
Nap Four: 5:30-6:30 1 hour
6:30: Sophie wakes up to nurse
Nap Five: 6:30-7:301 hour
7:30: The alarm goes off. Sophie wakes up. Her sister stays asleep. Our day begins.
|We were literally getting more sleep when she was a newborn|
I drive to work feeling hungover, and put on some Lily Allen in an effort to perk myself up. Instead of having the desired effect of energizing me, I felt myself swallowing a lump in my throat as I listened to her songs. Lily Allen, people. Singer of “Smile” and “F-ck You”? It doesn’t get much more upbeat and un-melancholy than that. Yet I found myself fighting back tears instead of singing along. I was able to pull myself up by the bootstraps while I taught two classes, though I felt several overpowering waves of dizziness when I stood up too fast.
The drive home was even worse; that is normally the time of day when I call my mom to debrief her on the previous night of sleeping adventures. I remembered that she was on a road trip with her best friend, a well-deserved break from her daily routine (including the part where she listens to me bitch.) I tried my husband. He immediately texted, “I’m in a meeting,” which brought another lump to my throat. There was nobody I could think of to reach out to, and I felt unbearably lonely in that moment. The few mamas who I knew would empathize with my plight were at work, and I was certain my childless friends could not tolerate one more rant about how exhausted I was. They had no way to grasp what it felt like to subsist on four to six nightly naps for a period of months, what that kind of exhaustion could do to a person’s psyche. Then I felt selfish for my impulse to burden another human being, a loved one, with my tales of woe. Obviously, I had a lot to be grateful for with my two healthy girls and supportive husband.
I quickly ran my errand, biting my lip as hard as I could to avoid succumbing to tears. I passed by a couple of pimply teenagers dressed in black, and I noticed that I was actually holding my breath when I walked by them. It was as though my protective energetic barriers were so compromised by fatigue that I couldn’t possibly risk inadvertently weakening myself by absorbing anyone else’s toxic energy, even by breathing their air. Feeling like a nutcase, I returned home, pulled into my garage and eagerly closed the automatic door behind me, as though to physically cocoon myself from the intrusive, unsympathetic world outside.
|One begins to crave sleep like a drug|