Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tired thoughts about being tired

Jeff is out with the boys and I got Edie down at 8pm tonight. This is a new record. For months Edie wouldn't go to sleep until close to 11pm (and even that was early sometimes), so it's quite an accomplishment to have worked her back down to 8pm. I have so many friends with babies who go to bed at 6 or 7pm and it makes me wonder - are some kids just programmed to crap out earlier and get up bright and early? Others to stay up late, fight sleep and snooze until 9am? Or is it something to do with how we parented her the first week of her life? If we'd made more of an effort to put her to bed early when we first brought her home from the hospital, would things be different? Do I even want them to be different? Because if they were different, Edie wouldn't be Edie.

Sleep never really improved for us after Thanksgiving. I don't even remember what it's like to sleep for more than 3 or 4 hours straight. We had that one weird night (December 12th to be precise) that she slept 8 and half hours before waking to eat, but being a total moron I didn't spend those 8 hours sleeping; I mostly spent them wandering to and from the nursery sticking my finger under Edie's nose to make sure she was still breathing and worrying that the long sleep meant that she was sick or something. I refused to believe she was just sleeping.

Another stupid thing that I do? Go to bed at 10pm even if Edie goes to sleep at 8pm. Then when she wakes at 1am, I've only had 3 hours of sleep when I could have had 5. Idiot. But I've been struggling a bit lately with insomnia. I think going back to work is messing with my head a bit. Trying to get my job done when I'm only in the office one day a week is stupid. So I lay in bed at night trying so hard to get back to sleep, but instead end up thinking about emails that I need to respond to. Counting backwards from 100 by threes used to help me get sleepy while blocking out other thoughts, but now I've pretty much got that memorized and find that I'm able to obsess about all sorts of other stupid things while ALSO counting backwards from 100 in threes. I'm all, 100, 97, 94, how am I going to travel to DC for work and leave Edie at home for a week?, 91, 88, why can't I fall asleep?, 85, 82, 79, what time is it now? was that Edie sighing or the cat snoring?, 76, 73... you get the idea.

For me, being a Mom is an experience full of self-doubt. I like to have answers and there often ARE no answers when asking questions like, "Should I feed Edie every time she wakes up in the night? Is she actually hungry or .... what? Why IS she waking up so frequently?" Then how to act upon the problem is an entirely different beast. I've got the older generation talking of letting babies "work themselves down on their own" AKA "crying it out". Then I've got Ann (the pediatric nurse that leads my Mom's group) saying that at this age, babies are so overwhelmed with developmental milestones and growing that trying to sleep-train them is like trying to help a customer at work while your boss is yelling at you, the phone is ringing, you're carrying a teetering pile of files, and you have to pee - all at the same time. Who's advice to follow?? At 5am when you've been up with a baby who falls deeply asleep in your arms and then wakes up and cries the second they hit the crib (and doing this dance for over an hour), the whole "crying it out" idea suddenly seems like your best option. But when she's actually crying? How do you possibly just lie there in bed and listen? Hm. Turns out being a parent is hard.

I have to say though, that if there really is only one thing I've learned so far in regards to parenting, it's that "this too shall pass". And that goes for the good as well as the bad. Edie's sleep will get better. It might take a while, but it will. And then it will probably get worse. And if not, something else will get worse. And then better.... there really is very little that's consistent about the behavior of children. I can already forecast 4 years into my future and picture a pajama'd Edie begging me for just 5 more minutes before she has to go to bed. And then demanding a glass of water. And then a stuffed animal. And then a hug. You get the idea. I think I'm very slowly making peace with the fact that for the foreseeable future, sleep is privilege, not a right.

Oh and PS - It's now 9:15 and I've already stopped writing twice to rescue a crying Edie and put her back to sleep.


Tib said...

oh girl... I hear you on the doubt thing... been there, done that. My mom always told me it's the parents who don't doubt themselves that probably should.

Lindsey said...

The sleep issue is tough. I spent many weeks and months stressing about trying to get Marina on a schedule and all that. Finally I decided to listen to my mom when she says "she'll figure it out and settle in". I feel much more relaxed just taking things day by day rather than trying to really set up some big plans. My advice would be to trust yourself. No one in the world knows Edie better than you. :)

Lindsey said...

I just read this post again and it is as though I am reading my own mind. If it is any consolation, we are having the exact same issues and questions down here. And I am so tired I could fall over. You are right. This too shall pass. Hope you all get some real sleep tonight.