Whomever it was to have coined the phrase “slept like a baby” to describe a restful night of sleep, did not have children, or was smoking crack. Slept like a rock, sure. Slept like a dog, perhaps. Slept like a log, absolutely. But like a baby – c’mon.
Have you heard the joke that goes something like, “last night I slept like a baby. I woke up three times, wet myself twice and cried myself back to sleep each time.”
When Lucy was just a few weeks old, she had her days and nights reversed, a common occurrence in newborns. My mom, veteran parent to two and grandmother to four, shared the sage advice that all new moms should sleep when the baby sleeps. Thinking I knew better, I failed to see the value in this advice (as many new parents do), instead choosing to take advantage of hands free time to clean, bake, write emails, upload photos, and generally just enjoy time to myself – awake. Silly new mom.
At 4 months old, we entered a blissful honeymoon period in which Lucy slept in 6-hour stretches during the night. I bragged about it to friends. I stayed up late watching movies and reading. I assured Justin that we were thru the rough patch. Two weeks later, the honeymoon came to a screeching halt. As all new parents quickly learn, as soon as you have established a routine, it changes.
Lucy spent the first six months of her life sleeping in a mini pack and play at the foot of our bed. I came to cherish our time together, nursing Lucy to sleep. But, as the days turned into months and Lucy was still nursing 1 ½ – 2 hours every night before falling asleep, some of the charm wore off. Instead of gazing at my baby’s suckling mouth, I became addicted to E!, tuning in to The Soup and Chelsea Lately and then Meet the Kardashian’s, and Kim and the other one take one city while Khloe takes on another. It got to the point where I was disappointed when Lucy fell asleep sooner than anticipated because it interrupted my date with Kendra and The Girls Next Door. I hit rock bottom when Justin found me watching Jerseylicious, Jersey Shore’s redheaded stepchild. I had forgotten the bigger picture.
Eventually, I shut the TV off and Justin and I re-entered the battle against Lucy’s night-wakings. He rocked. I nursed. He danced. I sang [I can’t tell you how many words I know that actually do rhyme with orange]. We tiptoed, we whispered. We WD40ed the door hinge. We turned on fans. We downloaded mp3’s of fans. Eventually, we realized that we might be the problem. Keeping her in our room was also keeping her awake.
Sleep-deprived and bordering on psychosis, I agonized over the decision to move Lucy out of our room, citing problems from power outages (not being able to use the baby monitor) to her room simply being too far from ours (I mean, door to door, it is a whopping 20 feet or 18 ½ floor tiles).
I Googled sleep deprivation and came up with this:
- Long-term total sleep deprivation has caused death in lab animals.
- Sleep deprivation is one of the most insidious torture methods.
- Researchers at the University of Chicago have shown that too little sleep changes the body’s secretion of some hormones. The changes promote appetite, reduce the sensation of feeling full after a meal, and alter the body’s response to sugar intake—changes that can promote weight gain and increase the risk of developing diabetes.
Oh, but “the good news,” according to Newsweek, “is that these effects can be reversed by getting an adequate amount of sleep.” Gee thanks, Newsweek. No F-ing shit.
Death, diabetes, and deprivation aside, Justin also pointed out that Lucy was going to end up an only child if we didn’t move her out of our room soon. The decision was made. Lucy would have her own room.
I dutifully went about rearranging the guest room/playroom, making room for Lucy’s pack ‘n play. And in the sanctuary of her new nursery, I did just that – I nursed. I spent the hour and a half reconnecting with my daughter, rediscovering her growing fingers and toes, and enjoying the sound of her breath as it deepened in slumber.
In a perfect tale, after moving Lucy to her room, she went to bed and stayed asleep throughout the night. But, parenting is anything but perfect. Instead, on some nights, she sleeps like a rock. Others, she sleeps like a baby.
Now, blessings light on him that first invented sleep! It covers a man all over, thoughts and all, like a cloak; it is meat for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, heat for the cold, and cold for the hot. It is the current coin that purchases all the pleasures of the world cheap, and the balance that sets the king and the shepherd, the fool and the wise man, even. ~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, 1605