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.