November was obviously a banner month for Barely Blogging At All. Sigh.
I’d like to say that it’s because my other project was progressing in leaps and bounds, but I’m afraid that’s not the case either.
What there HAS been: some serious sleep issues – for all of us. Especially me.
So today, I’m thrilled to present “A Little Night Weaning.” Or, as Mozart would have described it, Eine kleine Nachtentwöhnen. I assume. (Konstanze must have done her share of breastfeeding the kids she had with Wolfi.)
Daddy – dedicated father, works at 7 a.m. on weekdays, naps at the drop of a hat.
Mommy – dedicated breastfeeding mother, teaches part-time, has trouble napping.
E – four-year-old son, attends full-time kindergarten, never naps.
Baby AB – fourteen-month-old daughter, stubborn + screechy type, down to one nap/day.
For the past year, Daddy and E have shared a room to sleep, and Mommy and AB have shared a different room to sleep, since Baby AB is a frequent and unquiet waker. (When dissatisfied with the situation, she escalates to barking screams like a brawling baby mountain lion.)
Mommy has been pleasantly surprised by how much easier sleep deprivation has been with the second child (as if her body just resigned itself to the exhaustion), but after more than a year of two to six wake-ups per night, she is reaching the end of her… you know, whatever you get to the end of. She has tried to be disciplined and not nurse AB every single time she wakes up… but mostly she’s too tired to be that organized. And there’s that screaming thing. Recently AB’s been not only waking but nursing forever or climbing up on Mommy’s chest instead of dropping back to sleep… so yeah. There is much sleep loss.
All is not perfect in the other room either; E sleeps well most of the time, but recently has been awaking at 5:30 when Daddy gets up, and feeling anxious about him leaving. Hence, he ends up in Mommy’s bed. Mommy tries hard to make sure both children get some more sleep at this point without suffocating her – but things don’t always go as hoped.
First Movement – Thursday Morning: Adagio fatiguo furioso*
It’s been one of those nights/mornings. Nobody has had enough sleep. E wakes up grumpy and is crying within minutes about some inconsequential thing. Mommy gets up with less than zero patience, and shortly thereafter, despite her lethargy, yells at her firstborn son in a way that horrifies all parties. She then apologizes, feeling like the worst parent ever.
That evening, she discusses the situation with Daddy.
Daddy says, Honey, it’s time. WE ARE DOING THIS. He brooks no argument whatsoever.
Daddy has offered many times to trade places with Mommy and bear the brunt of the mountain lion’s fury so that Mommy can sleep. Mommy has always found reasons why this isn’t a good idea: AB has a cold right now and needs nursing to clear her passages; Mommy wouldn’t sleep anyway because she’d still hear AB with her bionic Mommy hearing so then BOTH parents would be overtired grumps; Daddy works with heavy machinery during the day AND PLUS is a bit of a wuss about tiredness, so Mommy is better off taking the sleep hit….
The crux of it is, Mommy knows that her baby no longer needs food at night, but she also adores nursing and sleeping with her child. But surely Baby AB needs proper extended sleep too. The “still worth it” refrain has worn thin enough to see through.
Second Movement – Thursday Night: Rondo agitato lacrimoso
Mommy gives Baby AB a last sleep-feed before going to bed – in the bunk below her son – at a reasonable hour, with earplugs in (as ordered by Daddy). Unfortunately, Mommy never sleeps well the first night in a new bed, and the anxiety of the first night ever apart from her daughter does not help. The mattress seems to eat her. The unfamiliar pillow and the remnants of her strep throat threaten to choke her. The silence of the earplugs makes her feel she is drowning. She is afraid she will hear crying, and afraid she won’t.
Finally, at 12:30 a.m., she removes the earplugs and is able to breathe somewhat. There are scraps of fitful dozing until about 2 a.m., when she hears (faintly, down the hall and through two closed doors) the crying she feared. And soon, the scream-barking, then the semi-hysterical sob-gasping. She texts Daddy to let him know she is awake anyway, if he wants to switch. Hoping desperately he will say yes.
He texts back to assure her that everything’s fine.
She continues to listen to the howling in nightmarish darkness, as her son sleeps peacefully above her. She sheds tears. She wrings her hands to keep from texting again. Then, just as she is about to give in – the crying abates, and stops altogether.
Wow. He did it.
Finally, there is some actual sleep.
At 5:30 a.m., Daddy summons Mommy to give Baby AB her early-morning feed while he gets ready for work. Mommy is beyond relieved to go in and stop the crying with her nipple, and have a snuggle before the day begins. E sleeps on.
~ Intermezzo ~
Later in the morning, Mommy sends Daddy a concerned text, wondering how he’s holding up at work. He replies, “I’m doing surprisingly well. Can’t wait for round 2!”
Mommy is more than a little surprised. And impressed.
Third Movement – Friday Night: Menuetto moderato stressando
This time, after AB’s last feed, Mommy goes to bed without earplugs, and with a new sense of faith in Daddy. She falls asleep much sooner. A couple of times, she wakes and hears crying, but it is short-lived.
At 5:20 a.m., she awakens to crying and figures it’s time for the feed. Daddy tells her that Baby AB did much better than the night before – none of the wake-ups involved the mountain lion.
E sleeps through to 7:30.
Fourth Movement – Saturday Night: Allegretto poco optimistico
Mommy awakens a few times, but does not hear crying, so goes back to sleep. At 5:30 a.m., she awakens spontaneously and looks at her phone. Daddy had texted her to come in a whole hour earlier, but she was sleeping too soundly to hear the buzz. She arrives at the bedroom and there is no crying: AB had rooted for food but gone back to sleep anyway. Daddy says she did almost as well as the night before.
When AB surfaces and realizes it’s time for a snack, she is downright jolly.
Daddy seems to be enjoying the bonding with his little girl, interrupted sleep notwithstanding. Mommy is starting to feel… rested. !!!
Fifth Movement – Sunday Night: Largo giocoso con amore
Mommy goes to bed without administering the extra night-feed, since Baby AB is sleeping so peacefully at the time. She falls asleep without difficulty.
She awakens almost seven hours later, when Daddy phones for the morning feed. She does a double-take: SHE HAS SLEPT RIGHT THROUGH. It is the first time she has slept a solid stretch this long in more months than she cares to count. Daddy congratulates her with a hug.
Folks, it’s a WHOLE NEW WORLD.
Obviously, Mommy should have said yes to this plan long ago. She feels like shouting from the rooftops, “I Just Had Sleep!”**
And Baby AB seems to be learning. Her naps are solid.
Daddy, you’re Mommy’s hero. xoxoxox
*I’m aware that my Italian terms are baloney and make no musical sense. In this case. Probably because there was no music involved.
**Oh yes she did. (Allude to Mozart and The Lonely Island in the same blog post.)
P.S.: For the record, there has been no evidence of wussiness about the fatigue on Daddy’s part.