Tag Archives: sleep deprivation

The Swing

We all know teething is a special hell that God sends parents to, like being sat in the corner for timeout. Now you just sit here and think about what you’ve done! We chose to have offspring, so now we must live with the consequences. Our four-month-old is just starting on this hellish roller-coaster, making her sleep patterns erratic at best and nonexistent at worst. Complicating things further is my rampant, currently untreated, insomnia. Once I’m up, I’m up — no number of sweet, fluffy Serta sheep is going to get me to go back down again. Lucky for me, I’m not in this alone. My hubby is pretty good about taking one for the team so I’m not always responsible for investigating each cry. But given the fact that we have both become incoherent zombies due to lack of sleep, we have been suffering a few lapses in communication. Case in point: The Swing.

A perk of being one of the last couples we know to jump on the baby bandwagon, we’ve benefited greatly from their shared knowledge and their hand-me-downs. One of the best things we’ve received so far is a Graco Glider. This sucker is a six-speed, vibrating, baby-soothing master machine with 10 lullaby choices and an attractive bucket seat. But like all things magical and legendary, when passed on to intrepid new adventurers it arrives with a warning: Use sparingly, lest your little angel become accustomed to sleeping while in motion, and never sleep without it ever again. But Lord help us, we have been weak! In weeping desperation after trying and failing to soothe Moira ourselves, we have slunk shamefully to the Swing, buckled her in, and collapsed back on to the bed in a heap. I know it’s wrong, but it feels so gooood.

I’ve known for a while now that we have to put the kibosh on slumbering in the Swing but then she started showing signs of teething, which included late-night restlessness and frequent waking. Now, we as parents have become dependent on the Swing for our own sleeping needs. Such was the case night before last, when I lost that internal argument with myself and after trying for an hour to get her to settle down, buckled her in to the Swing before crawling back to bed myself, thinking that her dad (who works nights, so goes to sleep and wakes up much later than me or the baby) would put her properly to bed when he came upstairs. Alas, that was not to be.

At 2am, when M woke for a feeding, she was still in the swing. I picked her up, nursed her, and while Will was still sleeping, put her into her co-sleeper beside me. Twenty minutes later, I was back asleep, only to be awoken by M’s fussing around 4am. I reached over and swatted at Will, “Babe, your turn.” He didn’t move. Using only what could be called “necessary force” to wake him from his mild, selective-hearing coma, I smacked him again. “Babe! Your. Turn.” And bless his little heart, he finally rose out of bed to tend to our girl. Pleased that I had managed to pass the buck without sufficiently activating my brain to cause sleeplessness, I started to drift back to sleep. Then I heard it: The Swing had turned on at the foot of the bed. M had been in the swing for a few hours when I first went to sleep at 10, and now she was going back in for the night. A red warning light went off in my mind: No. Swing, bad. Must. Rock. Baby. To sleep. But I’m a little inarticulate when sleep-walking, so I think I just managed to fling myself out of bed, snatch M from my drowsy spouse, and walk her to the nursery. After changing her diaper, giving her a pacifier, rocking in the glider and singing songs for an hour, she finally, blessedly, went back to sleep.

At this point, I was a little miffed that I had been the one to put her back to down — though I knew it was my own damn fault for being at first too tired to tell William I didn’t want her back in the swing that night, and second, too distracted to set up ground rules in the first place. But in the spirit of all people recently robbed of precious, precious REM sleep, I only had room in my brain to be pissed at the man for making me do it. I tucked M into her crib and  walked down the darkened hallway back to our room. Glancing at the clock before I settled in, I saw that it was 4:55. My alarm was set to go off in little over half an hour. Whoo, whoo! chimed a voice in my head. Spousal Abuse Express, your train just pulled into the station. All aboard!

However, I did not throttle my now sleeping husband about the head and shoulders. I cried a little on the inside, so as not to disturb him (I’m so fucking sweet, it makes my teeth hurt, I thought.) and I went downstairs to make some coffee, where upon walking into the kitchen I was confronted with a mountain of dishes. Toot, toot! Last call! Deep, cleansing breaths, now Sarah.

It was a close thing, but you’ll be happy to know: He survived to live another day.

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Here’s to the real badasses of parenting.

Early this morning, nursing Moira for the second time in three hours and thinking about how ugly three o’clock can be when you have to be up at five-thirty, I started to feel pretty nostalgic about those days in my early twenties when eight hours of contiguous sleep was actually a thing. Once the baby was full and satisfied, I laid her down to sleep, and soon thereafter greeted my old friend Insomnia — ah, the peculiar conundrum of sleep deprivation meeting the chronic inability to fall asleep. I read a book for a hour and then, just as I’m starting to drift off, a bomb detonated in the region of Moira’s diaper.

Crap. Literally.

In my desperation to grasp those last 90 minutes before getting up for work, I turned to my peacefully dozing husband and made a quiet plea: “Please, honey, would you change her?” And he, perhaps sensing my tenuous grip on sanity, pried himself out of bed to go don his hazmat suit. As I finally fell off to sleep, two things came to mind: “I am going to need some very strong coffee today.” and “Thank you, sweet baby Jesus, for my husband.” And what’s more: when the alarm went off 90 minutes later, that man got up out of bed again to go make the coffee. Bless him.

That got me thinking about my previous post on motherhood and stay-at-home parenting. Yeah, I would still prefer to be a stay-at-home (or mostly-at-home) parent, and because my husband is supportive and hardworking, I might even get to do that someday. But there are a lot of parents can’t even dare to dream of staying home to care for their kids, because they’re doing it alone. They are the Alpha and Omega of their households, the beginning and the end, the Only. Single parents are the real heroes.

I’m thinking specifically of my sister, who is raising her young daughter on her own. Her baby is growing up fabulously, and my sis gets to take all the credit for that because she’s doing it all — all the work, all the parenting, all the earning. I cannot fathom supporting Moira on my own and doing everything that she does. People like my sister deserve an all expenses paid vacation with a nanny to watch the baby (babies) while Mom or Dad downs some maitais, because Christ, if a little sleep dep is making me feel crazy, I can only quiver in fear as I consider what single-parent families go through on the daily. I’ll just go ahead and amend the statement I made earlier and say this: yeah, being a working parent is tough, but being a single working parent is way tougher, and I commend you! Way to kick ass!