Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sleep: The Biggest Brain Bender of Babyhood

You hear it ALL the time while you're pregnant: "Better sleep while you can!" You smile sweetly and nod knowingly, all the while thinking about what a joke that is...
Why don't you try sleeping with this jackfruit attached to your midsection, and while you're at it, go ahead and enjoy your new dragon status with that fire breathing reflux burning through your entire upper body.  
You read the articles, and you laugh at ALL the products promising to help your baby sleep. You say to yourself, "I'll just do this" or "We'll never do that."

But you don't really know anything about sleep deprivation until that baby arrives, and not only are your exhausted, you are on duty 24 hours a day.  Oh, and by the way, your body just went through something amazing, and I'm sure you're not tired from that at all.

Don't worry, though, because you probably have at least 7 days before people start asking you, "So, is the baby sleeping through the night?"  (True story, 7 days.)  Maybe you'll be lucky, and the answer will be yes.  Maybe you're not so lucky, and the next thing you know, you're crouched over that person with your fist in their throat.  Oops, did I forget to mention something earlier about raging hormones?

Here's the thing:  whatever your baby is doing right then, sleeping through the night or waking every 15 minutes to have a serious conversation with one of your sore, engorged, hulked-out boobs, chances are that is going to change soon.  And change again.  And again.  And again.  If the sleep deprivation doesn't get you, the pure chaos will.

Hubby calls this the "Yes, that is a person" reality.  I think that's hard to really grasp or remember when everything else seems so predictable.  You know around when that baby is going to want to eat, when they will get tired, when their diaper needs changing... but whatever you think you know about their sleep, they will prove you wrong time and time again.  They will prove you wrong.  They will prove your mother in law wrong, your sister wrong, your pastor, your pediatrician, your best friend and their baby: wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong.

Oh no--I'm sorry--if you're reading this in a desperate pit of exhaustion (waves from the pit next door) looking for THE SECRET on how to get your baby to sleep, you're probably going to want to just move on to the next article.  Guess what?  I have no idea.  No one really has any idea.  They don't know your baby half as well as you do, and they can't tell you what's going to work today, or tomorrow, or 3 months from now.  They can give you tools, like the 5 S's, to help you work through it.  But me?  Oh, I'm useless.  I'm just here commiserating with you.  I'm waving at you with crazy eyes from the adjacent pit while embroidering a pillow that says: "THE FATE OF MY SANITY RESTS IN THE TINY LITTLE HANDS OF THIS BEAUTIFULLY UNPREDICTABLE BABY."  You probably can't tell if I'm laughing or crying.  I probably can't either.  It's okay, just smile and nod...

So... my Baby recently slept--wait for it--through the night.  As in, 8 hours straight.  And then two days later--now, you're going to want to sit down--Baby slept 10 HOURS.



What the what!?  I woke up many times, laying in bed with boobs pumped full of marbles, wondering what the heck was going on.  Lucky for us, I've long since outgrown the "OMG the baby slept so we have to replicate everything we did that night so it will happen again!" phase.  Maybe I'm just too tired for that level of crazy, or maybe I'm just thoroughly sleep-defeated.  I don't know.  I didn't even really worry about sleep jinxing, because we all know that is never going to happen again.  Still, when I went to bed the next day I thought maybe things were turning around.

It was 1AM when my daughter woke up rattling away the opening speech for her "Why What Happened Last Night Is Never Happening Again," a 3.5 hour Seminar in a month long series titled "Unpredictable is a Four Letter Word."  While she was bouncing around the bed, cheering "Monkey! Oooo Eeee Aaaa!" I thought of this post.  And while she was cooing, "Hi Pookie!" two inches from my face after she head butted me so hard that she dislocated my jaw... again, I thought about everything I wanted to say regarding baby sleep.  But then, she grew quiet.  Her arm fell down my side, and her pacifier rolled off my chest.  I oh-so-gently lowered her into her bed, crawled deep under the comforter, and thought about sending myself an email with the most important points of this very blog post.

But instead, I fell asleep.

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