Monday, January 5, 2009

Tales from the crib

Everyone talks endlessly about exhaustion and sleep when you are pregnant. It's annoying really, "Get your sleep NOW while you can." There's an air of condescencion in the statement and really, a sense of glee that miserable, tired parents are about to gain new members. (I vowed while pregnant never to give advice/comments/otherwise to new or about-to-be-new parents. They really will just have to wait and see anyway.) Anyway, everyone says these things and you know it's coming, but you assume that it will be for the first few months. Of course newborns don't sleep long--their little bellies empty quickly and need refilling. It makes sense, even if it does just about kill the nursing mommy who never gets more than an hour of sleep for the first 4 weeks. oof. Nobody really talks about what happens after those first few months, with exception to those parents who say things like, "We've just been really lucky. Little Johnny is just a great sleeper." It's so annoying really, but those are the only ones who really speak of the sleep "issue." We've let others make us believe most recently that we are crazy sleep enforcers in our house and too protective of bed times and nap times. That sleep really isn't that big of a deal. No matter that these things come from non-parents or those with Johnny-sleeps-a-lot kinds of kids. Just when we were starting to question ourselves for never going anywhere past 6 pm and planning our days around naps, I began talking to my friends with babies. Guess what I found? They don't go anywhere either. Their kids sleep even less than ours! That exhaustion is so complete a physical ailment that it also becomes a psychological one too . . . and most importantly, nobody cares more about baby's sleep than mommy. Mommy, for whatever reason, is the one who loses sleep 95% of the time, exhausted 100% of the time, and worry-free about baby's sleep 0% of the time. (This is true for nursing, nonnursing, working, and stay-at-home mommies.)

But I digress.

Amelia was an amazing sleeper for a couple months. She got up only once a night from the time she was a couple weeks old and even that was at the same time every night. She took 3 hours naps, fell asleep on my chest (or anywhere) and, preferred her crib over anything else (every parent's dream!). Even when things were really bad and she'd scream for 7 hours, she'd sleep through the night. Then she went on Prevacid. It erased all of her sleep associations and habits. Since going off the med., we have done just about everything to regulate her sleep. Ritualized bedtime routine? Check! Scheduled naps? Check! Solid foods? Check. Sleep training? Check! Good sleep associations? Check! Sleep? Sleep? SLEEP?!

It's taken me a long time to get over the lucky baby we had at the beginning and come to the realization that we have an officially tough-to-sleep baby. A crap-napper for sure and still struggling at night.

After several weeks of going to bed without incident, she's been screaming bloody murder for the past couple of nights. We tend to her only to find that she's fine. She's been sleeping more consistently through the night (dare I even utter the words?), but not napping at all. NO NAPS. Babies need naps. They do. Mommy's need babies to nap too. The REALLY do. And she gets tired. You can see it all over her face and she becomes whiny like a puppy (seriously, you should hear it), but sleep? Noooooooooooo. *sigh* I guess I should take it for what it's worth. She's been sleeping until about 430 am or so for a while, (stay away you blog curse of mine) but honestly, is that where I am? Thankful to "sleep in" until 4 in the MORNING?! And then those around us think we're being paranoid about sleep? If your best case scenario was 4-5 hours and only that came inconsistently at best, how 'sane' would you be?!

In the end of it all, it is and always has been the exhaustion that is the worst part of the package. It's not just something to laugh at, but something that every mother feels for what I am coming to realize is for years (decades?)--never really being asleep and never really being awake. . . and still trudging through their lives. It makes us forgetful, weepy, sick, and impatient. How do they/we do it? Still trying to figure it all out for myself.

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