I knew I would be sleep deprived as a parent, at least, I knew it intellectually. I didn’t, couldn’t know it in the bone-weary, sick-stomach, foggy-headed physical reality that would become my life. Who can, until you’ve experienced it?
I knew Tristan would be up frequently to feed. What I didn’t anticipate was how long those feedings would be. It’s nothing like peeing in the night, where you’re up for a minute, then fall right back to sleep. This involved picking up the tiny, warm, wriggly bundle, stumbling through the dark room, getting set up on the couch with the nursing pillow, getting a boob out, getting the baby in position, helping him latch, and encouraging him to feed for anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes. Then changing a diaper, soothing baby back to sleep, and repeating an hour later. And an hour after that. Forever.
At least, it felt like forever at the time. Especially once the colic started. For a while, as I was pacing our dark, claustrophobic basement suite again at 2am, it seemed as if I would never sleep again. Three hours of sleep in a row was a miracle. More often, it was 45 minutes snatched at a time, stretched out on the couch with my baby cuddled on my chest.
Then those first, tough months passed, and he began to sleep longer stretches. And he would be up more in the day, and sleep more at night, which meant I slept more (I’ve never been a good day-sleeper). I found myself becoming very protective of his sleep. During the Stanley Cup playoffs, I used to hate it every time the Canucks scored a goal, because it meant some idiot with an airhorn would wake Tristan up. “Shut up!” I wanted to scream out the window. “Baby sleeping here! For the love of God, keep it down, world!” I considered writing to the city, asking them to make the 10 block radius around our house a siren-free zone. I’d tense up every time I heard a fire engine go by, waiting for the answering wail from the nursery.
Naps became precious – his, not mine. A good nap meant a happy baby, and a better chance of a good night sleep for me. So when he wouldn’t nap, I’d put him in the stroller and walk for hours – effective, but exhausting. One of the best milestones in his little life was when he started reliably napping in his crib. I didn’t have to cradle him or walk with him – suddenly I had so much free time in the day! I could shower! Eat! Answer an email! Or, if I was really lucky, catch some sleep myself.
Now, at almost ten months, Tristan is sleeping really well. He naps twice a day, usually for 1.5 hours each time. He goes to bed at 6pm, and sleeps usually until 6am, with one feeding around 3ish. Every now and then he sleeps through the night, which is amazing. Finally, I’m starting to feel like a human again. Still, my greatest fantasy is sleeping from 8pm until about 10am. What a luxury that would be!
At least I finally feel rested enough to update the blog again. I’ve been trying to write this post for months, but I was too tired.
Grampa helping with Tristan's nap