Write of Passage

Every mom knows about the lack of sleep, and every mom blogger writes about it at least once.  Some write about it at length numerous times.  And now, here I am too.

GeekBaby has usually been a decent sleeper… on his terms.  He has very specific mattress requirements, namely he will only sleep on the human mattress.  Sleep on his back?  Not for him!  He is a devout fan of the sleeping on various parts of mommy’s  (and occasionally daddy’s) anatomy.  And when he was a newborn, we let him.  Because at least he slept, and neither of us really wanted to ever put him down.

At about six weeks, we tried moving him from the bassinet to the crib, hoping he would sleep better at night.  Two weeks later, he was sleeping in the bed with us.  It was just safer to nurse him lying down in bed at night, than to risk falling asleep in the rocking chair and dropping him.  And sleeping in the bed he was only waking up twice to nurse, and it wasn’t really waking me up to nurse him although I was aware of him.  So everyone slept really well, even while visiting grandparents, and everyone was happy and relatively well rested.  

I’m too chicken to tell his pediatrician because I don’t want to deal with her flipping out at me.  She’s already nagging about how he should be sleeping at least ten hours straight at night and another four during the day.  She’s completely out of her mind, but I remind myself that she’s young and doesn’t have kids of her own, so she doesn’t really know any better, she’s just working from guidelines based on population averages.

This happy arrangement has all gone straight to hell.

I don’t know what it is, but he’s just not sleeping well anymore.  He wants to nurse every hour, but he isn’t hungry.  And he’s biting now – I have a 5 millimeter long cut where he tried to bite my nipple clean off, hurts like you wouldn’t believe – so I’m constantly being woken all the way up.  Lots of times he just wants to be held, upright of course, and sleeping in a chair holding a wiggling baby just doesn’t work.

He had an extremely bad patch right before he started crawling, then it got better, now it’s worse again.  And I know babies’ sleep is disrupted by developmental spurts, but we’ve never experienced anything like this previously.  The Husband has been a champ getting him to sleep during the non-hungry wake ups, but we’re both starting to move beyond frazzled and into seriously sleep deprived.

Teething could be the culprit, but teething gels don’t seem to help.  We stuff him full of sweet potato or pear or avocado at night, and he still wants boob, which now tends towards a painful wake-up-mommy experience.  Everyone was sick a couple weeks ago, but he bounced back from that quicker than the adults did.  Sticking a pacifier in there results in an immediate full wakefulness, and we can’t leave him asleep on the bed anymore now that he’s crawling.

We used to have some success leaving him in the crib to cry himself to sleep, but now that he can crawl, he doesn’t fall asleep anymore.  He sits himself up, rattles the bars of his prison, and screams his poor little throat out.

I used to spend an hour coding in the morning before heading to work, but now I just long for more sleep.  I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around Objective C.

And then, by 8:30 every morning (some mornings earlier), he’s awake and ready to play, even if he’s been keeping me up all night.  He’s even still sleepy, he just won’t go back to sleep, not in the bed with me, not in his crib, not walking around the room.  Sleepy or not, he’s intent on playing.  And I want to scream.  One morning, after two hours of this, I stumbled downstairs without my glasses, handed him to my mom, and I don’t even remember going back upstairs, but woke up three hours later.

And on odd days I go to work, my lovely job with its lovely PubMed access, and read articles on just how bad sleep deprivation is for people.  How sleep debt just piles up, so if you lose just one hour of sleep every night, by the end of a week you’re a whole day’s sleep behind.  How people who slept 6 hours a day instead of a normal 8 for 14 days are just as sleep deprived as people who stayed up for 24 hours… but they didn’t even know it.

And I marvel at how very tough we are that we can lose all this sleep, and still survive.  And maybe even thrive.  Eventually.

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