Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Art of Minimal Sleeping

Big duh, right? New parents get very little sleep. And what they do get is often sporadic, interrupted and often on strange surfaces. If you read my blog you are most likely friends with me on Facebook, so you know that I'm a fan of the late night nap face down on the living room floor. There's a very specific reason why I'm in the living room at 11:00 pm and not in my bed. I've managed to magically make my pumping schedule 4 times a day, every 6 hours. This shouldn't work, but somehow it does and somehow I'm producing enough, so I go with it. However, the midnight round is tough. Alex usually falls asleep around 10, 10:30 pm. If I let him go, he'd be up at 4:00 am every morning, which is not a very friendly wake up call. So since I have to be up at midnight anyway, we let him sleep in the living room until 12:00 then stick a bottle in his face while re-diapering him. If we do the parental double team, he stays asleep through this and goes right to bed. Then I do my thing and join my boys in the bedroom. Alex's night time baby nap is the perfect time for me to finish laundry, flip the dishwasher or pass out. Pass out usually wins.

Lately Alex has been waking up at 4 in the morning despite our careful planning. Growing teeth is a painful and difficult process, and he likes to share his experience with his mom. Not that I blame him... if I had little enamel bullets cutting through my delicate virgin gums, I'd probably bitch a bit too. For the first two nights of this, I was an grumpy, slightly tearful mess. It just so happened that these early mornings coincided with Dennis' opening shifts. While I truly believe that parenting is a two person job, I still try to be extremely respectful of this. I've worked the business. I understand that not only are the hours long, but you are on your feet all day in an extremely hot kitchen (this past week they recorded 105 degree temps in there!) Add to that the fact that he's the new guy in a newly created position, and there's some serious pressure to be on your A game. So on the days where I know he has to go in early, I try to make sure he's not up too late with Alex, and try to usher the little guy out of our room at the first hints of wakefulness. So no help for the mommy. I was exhausted, I was frustrated, I was not functional. I would comfort, feed, then rock to sleep. By this time, it would be 5:00 am. The logical thing at this point would be for me to pump, even though I usually do it at 6:00 am. I would grumble under my breath the entire time, read status updates from my west coast friends (and up late east coasties), play games on my iPod so I wouldn't fall asleep in the chair. Then I'd trudge back to bed at 5:45 knowing I had to be up in about 3 hours. GRUUUUM-PY! It was a vicious cycle, and I was getting pretty snarky, which is never good for household relations.

Around the middle of last week, after wallowing in my own pity puddle for several hours, I decided enough was enough. The next time Alex took a nap, I went outside, turned the sprinkler on to water the garden, and stood in it. It was a wake up call in more than one way... it was freekin freezing on a 110 degree heat index day, and it was a good reminder that you make your own fun, your own attitude, your own daily path. Yeah, getting up at 4 am sucks big time, but I chose this. I wanted to be a mom, and Alex is worth every second. So next time I had to get up at 4 am, I didn't have to like it, but I didn't get to hate it either. I would take a deep breath, a good stretch and rescue my sugar from dreams of bears and baby fangs. I ran this over in my head several times while drying off from the sprinkler. I thought about it while I gave Alex his evening bath. I repeated it over and over during my midnight session (it's really easy to mentally repeat things while pumping, the pump sound is totally made for meditation!)

You know what? It worked. When Alex got fussy at 3:45 that morning I got up, stretched and felt more awake and in control of the situation. Alex was more calm while I changed him and fell back to sleep quicker and easier. I finished my business, went back to bed and felt more refreshed when I got up that morning. Am I still tired? Oh yeah. I don't think I'll stop being tired until he's at least 30 or so. But I no longer feel like crap. I don't want to bite anyone's head off. And by far the best part is that Alex let me sleep until 5:30 this morning (hey, its another hour and a half, I'll take what I can get!) and then again until 9:00. I'm not the type to preach like a caffeine amp'd self-help guru, but it worked for me. It brought my happy back.


  1. Way to go. I'm very proud of you.!!

  2. Sleep the elusive mistress of every mom. I feel your pain, it took me until the 5th baby to figure out how to get them to sleep through the night before they stopped nursing. Actually I can't claim know-how really, I should say more blessing, but getting some ZZZZs makes a world of difference. Hang in there!


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