Friday, March 21, 2014

on sleep (deprivation). the 6th month.

 I've been at this for six months, and man, I still feel like I'm only just starting to figure this whole gig out. And that's a liberal statement at best, one that's made on a day that I'm feeling rested, which I conclude is the primary key factor in my ability to parent this little squishy face with any amount of patience and semblance of sanity. It's my own fault, really. It just took me a while (three months, half of her life to be exact) to figure out that a baby with thigh rolls may not need to nurse every 2-3 hours at night, that she may not be hungry every time she wakes up, and that lo and behold, the kid does have the ability to go back to sleep without me and my boobs. Something happened between Dr visits: 3 months, at which I was basically instructed to still feed on demand, and 6 months, at which I was gently told that she needs to develop some better sleep habits (which would thereby curb my martyrish tendencies to run myself into the ground).

Somewhere in that time span, I missed the obvious. I think it may have started with a growth spurt or a sleep regression that went bad, bad being that I failed to recognize that either one would have an end date, a stop point, a sign or two or ten that it was time to move through and past it, and that doing so might take some biting of the bullet (and basic parenting skills) to break some bad habits and change the status quo. Even now, looking back, I don't really know how we let it go on for so long. But luckily somewhere in there, in that foggy haze of sleeplessness, little alarm bells starting going off and the phrase "this is not sustainable" became a mantra, a broken record in my stream of no-longer-very-rational-consciousness (let's just say I was beginning to understand what they mean when a celebrity checks into rehab for "exhaustion." yes, I'm fairly certain it's possible that that's a real thing.). These warning bells happened at about the time I realized that my brain was no longer functioning as it once was at work (not even kidding), and so I started frenetically researching every possible sleep method known to man, and just short of buying every book on the market, I realized that the first steps just might be to trust my instincts and start somewhere, with something, and that there probably isn't a magic solution or one-size-fits-all approach and that all of the experts aren't going to be next to me shushing her or sitting with me downstairs listening to her cry-it-out or whatever the case may be. And quite frankly, I'm pretty sure my reading comprehension abilities were effed by that point anyway. So we started somewhere, and that happened to be with this feel-it-out mixture of crying and comforting and listening, paired with a fairly lenient kitchen-is-closed policy through the night, within reason, reason being defined as "you're capable of giving us at least a 5-6 hour stretch because you did that at 3 months before all hell broke loose so we know you can do it now stop looking at me that way." 
don't let her fool you.
the rolls. i just can't even.
Just as a disclaimer, all of this was blessed (not to mention strongly encouraged) by our ped. And what do you know, after a week and a half, things are better. Faaaaar from perfect, but better, and manageable, and I don't feel like I'm thisclose to running off the edge of a cliff anymore. And instead I feel like a human again, one who enjoys coming home from work, putting her kid in the stroller, and whipping her around the block now that we have some daylight in the evenings, which let me tell you, is a real mark of progress compared with before, when every thought and fiber of my being was consumed by thoughts of and movements toward trying to get sleep. Which makes me sad, but oh well, you move on.

The takeaways and lessons learned?

Everyone close to me has been expressly instructed to intervene before I get that run down again.

Listen to your mothering instincts (and if they're too drowned out by sleep deprivation, borrow someone else's instincts and call your doctor).

Don't ignore the thigh rolls. They might be trying to tell you something.

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