Thursday, April 14, 2011

the s-word and parenting while sleep deprived

Sleep is such a huge focus when you have a baby. You're either getting it, in which case life can feel pretty darn good, or you're not which can make everything look pretty gloomy.  Q's frequent night wakings have continued, so I've gone from hoping it was a growth spurt to assuming this is our new "normal."  More annoying than the wakings themselves, is that many times it takes a while for him to get back to sleep-- falling back asleep for a few minutes before stirring and crying again, the process repeating a few times before he's finally "down."

At least we're making some slight progress during the day.  Today we stumbled onto a routine where after 1-1.5hrs of being awake, I'd take Q to him room, shut the blinds, swaddle him, put on a white noise track on my ipod, and nurse him to sleep.  The combination of darkened room + swaddle + noise = much higher chance for a successful transfer onto the bed, where he then takes a 20 minute nap.  This is a vast improvement over the past several months where he either napped in my arms, or woke as soon as I tried to set him down, taking only an occasional out-of-arms catnap here and there.  This new routine worked all day today, so we'll see if it continues. Part of me is pretty excited to have figured out a routine of sorts, the other part of me feels tired just thinking about repeating that cycle over & over all day long.  Interestingly, D was about the same way with naps his whole first year (though his cycle was a bit longer- 1.5-2hrs of wakefulness + 45min nap).  Here's hoping Q lengthens it out a bit, too, over time.

There are so many things I've learned and discovered over the past few months that I never anticipated. One of them is realizing how much lack of sleep affects my mood and parenting, and how difficult it is to see D be affected by it.  I'm kind of a sucky parent when I'm sleep deprived.  I certainly lose my temper a lot more, and I hate that D has to see that.  Yes, there's value in him seeing his parents not be perfect and own up to our mistakes... but there's only so many times I can lose it and yell at him, and then apologize for it afterwards, before I start feeling like the abusive partner who swears she'll change "one day."  By the way, let me tell you there's no quicker way to feeling like The World's Suckiest Parent than having your 3 year old ask you to please not close the door so hard because the noise scared him.

I know this is temporary.  I know kids are malleable and forgiving, and I hope D won't remember much of this time period.  I know that most of the time I am a pretty good, loving, and patient parent.  But, egads, is this tough.


  1. We're with you in spirit, Sister. You will get through this. And so will Donovan and Quinn. It'll all be ok.

  2. I've never commented on your blog before but I've been reading for over a year and I can tell you, You are a good parent. From my experience, remember you're tired and over reacting. Once I realized this I stopped snapping as much. It also made me calmer and handle my sleep deprivation a bit better. (Not perfectly but a little better)

    Also, its amazing that you've taught Donovan the communication skills to tell you when he's afraid. This is much, much better than him living in fear of you slamming doors. You're doing great.

  3. I agree with Anna.

    The fact that D can 1) ask you to change a behavior and 2) tell you when something scares him/makes him uncomfortable is a huge testament to the awesome parenting you have been doing, and continue to do even when you feel you're slacking (not "doing it all") or not living up to your expectations for yourself.


  4. You have great perspective and patience and that makes such a big difference to your children! They are lucky to have you mothering them! Best of luck!



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