Sleep Deprived And Still Alive
Mark and I did a pre-parenting workshop when I was pregnant. One exercise included listing the basics we needed to function. Laughing about it now, “basic makeup” and “7 hours of uninterrupted sleep” were on the top of that list. SMH…
When Wes was a newborn, he slept quietly at night for about two weeks. Then the grunting baby syndrome (GBS) started and he grunted for up to two hours at a time. His doctor said it was likely because he was trying to work out a poop. We tried un-swaddling him, rubbing his belly, nursing… everything. It was a tough three months until he outgrew it. After GBS ended, the four-month sleep regression began. He’d wake crying every 1.5-2 hours throughout the night. I tried my best for three months to cuddle and rock him patiently until I woke up one morning sobbing and feeling depressed. We did some gentle sleep coaching – basically, soothed him in his crib, instead of picking him up every time he cried. It was a success!
After he slept longer periods, he began waking up for 1-2 hours in the middle of the night for the next several months. I never got used to sleeping early, so I’d go to bed at 11pm, Wes woke around midnight and I would finally settle back to sleep around 3am, only for him to wake for morning a few hours later. The sleep deprivation didn’t start just after Wes was born. I had around the clock morning sickness from months 2-5, then debilitating hip cramps throughout the rest of my pregnancy. It had been almost two years since I slept over 5 hours straight. For someone who was accustomed to sleeping 8-10 hours per night and napping frequently everywhere and anywhere, this was quite an adjustment. I was not prepared for how challenging sleep would be the first year.
When he turned one, Wes’ pediatrician said we could put a baby blanket and pillow in his crib. It was like someone flipped a switch – Wes slept his first 11.5-hour stretch ever! My first eight-hour night’s sleep in years!
Looking back, I don’t think heavily of the sleepless nights – I laugh at how I managed to function on such little sleep, dressed in pajamas or “athletic gear” all day, no makeup, maybe showered, feeling constantly hung over, and seven hours of uninterrupted-what??
My saving graces throughout the entire sleep deprived period, were/are (1) knowing it’s just a phase and this, too, shall pass; (2) changing my perspective dramatically from “needing seven hours of uninterrupted sleep” to “at least 5 hours of whatever kind of sleep;” and (3) seeing our sweet baby boy light up whenever he sees me. He doesn’t care if I wear makeup and stay in jammies all day and his laughter replaces whatever endorphins I lack from sleeplessness.
For those who have always had “perfect sleepers,” I can’t say I’m jealous of you because I’d like to imagine that you have asshole babies (we’re friends, we can joke like that, right?! Insert smiling devil emoji here.) I’m kidding… but another way I cope is that (4) I definitely don’t let myself get caught up in comparing babies or hearing how amazing everyone else is sleeping.
Being sleep deprived is a sure way to torture someone. Constantly feeling groggy and grumpy, a condition worse than hanger, like you had a rough night with twelve 151 shots, standing next to the speaker at a Nirvana concert for six consistent hours and water tortured repetitively. I don’t say this lightly but I think I had PTSD for months, hearing constant phantom baby cries that made my entire body tense.
To my friends and loved ones, to my sweet husband, Mark: thank you for putting up with my shoddy planning, poor communication, for repeating yourself several times after you just repeated yourself, for being patient when I constantly “forgot what I was just about to say,” and for bearing with this un-adventurous/I’d rather rest/Disneyland-will-always-be-there version of me. This too shall pass ;)