One of the trademarks of having a baby is sleep deprivation…it kinda comes with the territory. Here’s an article listing 11 signs of sleep deprivation, in case you’re curious or unsure.
It didn’t take much for me to conclude that I’m sleep deprived. These last couple months have been a crazy roller coaster ride that I can’t seem to get off. Along the way there have been 3 aspects of sleep deprivation that have been such a tease.
Tease #1 is when you finally go back to sleep after feeding/soothing and then a short time passes when your baby awakes again. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture in some countries, you know, and I can see why.
What’s even more of a tease (tease #2) is when you finally have the opportunity to go back to sleep, and then you can’t sleep! That’s just not fair. Is life playing some kinda mean trick on me? I must either be too aroused or have one ear tuned in, dreadfully anticipating the next cry.
Upon these night awakenings, my first choice of action is to shove the soother back Jack’s mouth. But then I wonder if I’m contributing to the habit and exasperating the problem even further. Or out of sheer desperation for a guaranteed chunk of sleep, I’ll put him in the baby swing. The result is a feeling of guilt and wondering whether I’m creating a bad habit.
But fortunately, after a difficult night sleep, I’m grateful that my daughter has day camp the next day so I can at least take a nap. With Ella, I didn’t usually follow the classic advice to “sleep when your baby is sleeping.” I find many new mothers don’t either. I guess we think we’re “fine” and keep plowing through the day. But from what I’ve learned about sleep, you can acquire a sleep debt. It has taken having postpartum depression and a second child to start heeding the advice to “sleep when the baby is sleeping.”
Alright, so I’ve learned my lesson, I’m trying to sleep when the baby is sleeping. But then one of two things happen, which leads to tease #3. Either I can’t sleep even though I’m tired (see tease #2). Or I finally get to sleep and not long after, Jack wakes up! I can feel the short circuiting sparks ricocheting in my brain as I desperately think, “Go….back …to ..sleeeep…..please….oh puh…leeeeease!” This is not sustainable. No human can live off of broken night sleep and less than an hour nap all day. At some point, something has to give.
Out of delusion and urgency, I either plug the soother in his mouth or use the swing. The aftermath is the same feelings mentioned prior: guilt, doubt and fear of creating bad habits.
So I’m in a blur of confusion of what to do or not do. I’m immersed in different books all telling me different things. I’m uncertain about what my values are about crying it out or not. I seem to oscillate back and forth between the two. I’m fearful that I’m creating bad habits that will cause problems down the road. I guess after having one kid, you see all the things you don’t want to repeat and then hope to do it differently with the second. Some of these bad habits could be adding to my milk supply being low, which then creates another layer of challenges. Oh, what is one to do? I know I’m not alone and that there are other women out there, awake several times throughout the night, empathizing with my difficulties.
In the end, I need to come back to compassion. It’s no wonder I do the things I do when it’s 3 in the morning, it’s been 3 months of getting less than 3 hours of sleep at a time, and the only thing I can think to do out of sheer desperation is shove a soother back into my baby’s mouth or put him in a swing. Fortunately, children are adaptable and they will, of course, change again!
Therefore, I have come full circle with the same conclusion I had when I was trying to figure out sleep with Ella: the most important thing is for everyone to be sleeping; however that needs to be obtained, so be it. I choose to accept and not judge – it is what it is, neither good nor bad.
And I choose laugher yoga! “Hi my name is Kristina. Hahahahaha. And I’m sleep deprived! Hahahaha…ohh HAHAHAHAHA…(hilarious laughter and chuckles).” Aaahh that feels better already.
Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net