I should probably not be writing right now. In my present state, it’s like drinking and dialling: I might use inappropriate honesty.
For the last many weeks (I haven’t been counting because that just makes it worse) Baby A, and therefore I, have been sleeping in increments no longer than 2 hours, and often 90 minutes or less. Well, there have been a few times we’ve slept three or four hours in a row. (One time I got all excited because I thought we’d slept for five hours, but then I remembered we’d switched to daylight savings in the night and my phone had automatically reset. Only four hours.)
Of course I mostly blame myself for this. We bed-share, and the majority of the time when she wakes up, I don’t have the presence of mind (or the energy) to do much besides nurse her back to sleep, which means I’m assiduously teaching her NOT to put herself to sleep, right?
With that in mind, I’ve been doing some sleep training with Baby A (using the Baby Whisperer’s Pick-Up-Put-Down, because I do not have what it takes for crying it out), and she has been able to put herself to sleep for a nap several times this week, without crying. She is learning more swiftly than I expected.
Last night I thought I had all my ducks in a row. She had napped well during the day, including an evening catnap (which she needs in order not to get overstimulated); she was in a good mood all day, not fussy; I remembered to give her Tylenol in case of teething pain; and I went to bed at the same time she did, so in case she had a long stretch of sleep first, I would get to benefit from it.
She was up less than an hour later. Sean and I spent half an hour or more trying to get her back to sleep – and succeeding, but she would wake up minutes after being put down. I finally caved and nursed her to sleep… and she woke up twenty minutes later. And then we repeated that scenario. Then we tried again, and nursing didn’t soothe her at all. I finally patted her to sleep sitting up, and she slept for about 90 minutes. Next round we got maybe a hundred. At 5:20 a.m., she awoke wailing and nothing I did helped until I turned on the lamp to give her some more Tylenol. The effect of the lamp (which I’ve covered with a starry receiving blanket to make it dimmer, and I guess she thinks it’s pretty) was instant: suddenly she was smiling and sweet and jokey.
Honestly, I was like, WTF, baby??? I was glad she seemed happy, but in that case, what’s wrong? Can babies have bad dreams? Could that have been it? It didn’t seem to be gas (she got very mad when I tried my standard solutions for that) and teething can’t be the whole issue. Obviously not hungry. Diaper was fine, I checked. She was up and babbling until finally falling asleep (nursing) at 6:30. Then we had another 90 minutes of sleep, etc.
I feel that I have been dealing better with interrupted sleep this time around than I did with E. This was especially true earlier on, when A was only waking up once or twice a night. (PIECE O’ CAKE.) I felt like an old hand at this, someone who’s adapted. Even with four or five wakeups in a night, I can usually function quite reasonably the next day.
But it’s now been well over a month of the frequent wakeups, and this long-term thing is getting to me. I thought it would be temporary, since A was achieving 5- and 6- hour stretches before she was three months. But now those are a distant memory. (Just to get a bit mawkish on ya.)
I know lots of moms who have pulled through much worse than this with their babies. I shouldn’t complain. But look, here I am complaining.
I guess it’s that I am recharged just enough to keep going, but there is some base level of life-juice in me that is depleting, without getting topped up. I don’t like the kind of person it makes me.
It makes me want to quit and just walk away from poor E, sometimes multiple times in a day (when he melts down, when he ignores what I’m telling him, when he deliberately defies me, or when he decides it’s a good idea to take all the books from his bookshelf and put them on his bedroom floor). I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of what he needs right now.
It puts the tears right up at the top of my throat so that stupid little things make me cry, or almost.
It means that when I get frustrated, I immediately want to throw breakable things against a wall, really hard. (I never do, though.)
It paralyzes my writing, so that when I have thoughts jumbling in my head looking for an outlet, when I most need a “flow experience“, I can’t focus myself to sit down and write.
It takes the meaning out of things, so that I want to say SCREW IT and just give up on stuff I otherwise care about, like my blog, the dishes, spending time outside, getting errands done, socializing… And any larger projects seem laughably unattainable.
Please don’t be alarmed. I don’t sound or even feel like this most of the time. I’ve just noticed that my patience is wearing thin, and last night was like a double-dose. I tried to nap with A (she’s still napping) while E is at the babysitter, but couldn’t do it. Too much crap in my brain. So I figured it was time for me to write something, already.
Since I’m trying to catharsify here, I might as well write about Sebastian. He’s been in my mind a lot these days, and I won’t deny that it’s off-throwing to be going about my day and suddenly remember, with breathtaking vividness, the sound of an empty Doppler, or the pain of him leaving my arms, or crying at the funeral home. For some reason, these memories are sharper and realer than usual lately.
It’s more complicated, and confusing in a deep place I can’t fully access, to grieve for Sebastian, to miss him, now that Baby A is here. Her unique, adorable baby-self would not be alive if he had survived.
Friends of ours lost their firstborn, a son, at about the age Baby A is now (about the same time of year, too), to a congenital heart defect. I think of that sweet baby and wonder how anyone endures the pain of losing a five-month-old. Five months is more than enough time to be head-over-heels in love with every teeny part of your child. It’s an absolutely gorgeous age. (Not that six weeks or seventeen months or three-and-three-quarters years is any less gorgeous.)
The other day, Sean asked me jokingly if we should trade in this wakeuppy baby for one that sleeps better. And though I laughed, it was a good reminder that whatever the side effects, I would go virtually sleepless if I had to, to keep my little girl.
She really is totally awesome in basically all ways – except the sleeping thing.
Wow. See, that helped a lot, just unloading some words on y’all. Hope you don’t mind.
Now, if we can just get some better sleep than last night, I’ll be thrilled.