Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Be careful what you pray for

I think the sleep-deprivation part of motherhood is meant to be lost in the amnesia we experience with pregnancy discomfort and labor pain. Right? But it's never been that way for me. I have never really recovered from the sleep deprivation I experienced with Miriam, and I certainly haven't forgotten it. She's eight now. Magdalena was a little better but it was still rough going. The fact is, I am the mother of two confirmed non-sleepers. Unfortunately, Sterling is a third.

It wasn't always this way. When he was one, two, and three months old, I was working on my thesis and then thesis revisions after the defense. I prayed many times a day to ask God to help Sterling to sleep so I could do good work on my thesis. I knew that if I didn't get that thesis done last semester, it would probably never get done. And guess what? God answered my prayers. As a tiny infant, Sterling regularly slept from 8pm until 4am without waking, sometimes even until 5 or 6am. After those nights, Jeremy and I would wake up and, after a moment of panic that Sterling was only quiet because he was dead in his crib (all parents have those moments after a good night's sleep), we would just stare at each other in wonder that we had produced a child who appeared to enjoy his beauty rest.

The thing is, I said God answered my prayers, but he answered them a little too specifically. Or I was wording them too specifically. After I turned in my finalized thesis - like, almost to the day - Sterling stopped sleeping so well (because "so I could do good work on my thesis" was no longer necessary, see?). He is now just as bad of a sleeper as his sisters ever were. I tend to get irrational about babies and sleep, probably due to frayed nerves (because sleep deprivation) and a touch of post-traumatic stress disorder from babies one and two. So I did what anyone seeking clarity would do: I created a spreadsheet. Green is a nursing session. Pink is sleep. Orange is roughly "he is in his crib and should be sleeping but he is crying instead and mom or dad had to go help him."

I've filled it in for almost a month now. It has really helped me see what is going on with Sterling's sleep. Is it really as bad as I think it is? Did he really wake up three times last night? Was there really a period there where he didn't take a single nap longer than 45 minutes? Could that really have happened? Yep. It's on the chart.

As for averages, Sterling gets about 10 hours of sleep a night, and then 2.7 hours of nap during the day. This is acceptable, I suppose, but it's the night wakings that are slowly (ok, quickly) crushing my spirit.

The moral of the story is, don't be too specific with your prayers, because God will answer them.


Crys said...

That will teach you to be so specific :) I think this is why we inevitably always just end up cosleeping because those nightly feeds are so demoralizing. Of course I am also a person who ends up night nursing an almost two year old so don't follow me! Even now that cheetah is weaned she still sleeps with us almost every night. We start her out in her own bed but when she wakes up for any reason she climbs out of her crib an forces her body inbetween us virtually ensuring her place as always the baby. I wonder if coffee drinkers are more easily able to deal with this child induced insomnia?

Jen said...

Tragic subject-matter aside, that spreadsheet is SOMETHING TO BEHOLD. It's a beautiful specimen of data. I just wish it was significant of something else.

I have two friends who delivered babies around the same time that I had my youngest (~14 months ago), and they are now both pregnant. I'm sure my face betrayed me when I offered my congratulations, because the idea of having a newborn gives me that feeling of dread right in the core of my stomach.

Hoo, boy. I hope Sterling gets into a rhythm soon----though, with the spreadsheet, you'll likely be able to see when it begins. So.....yay for data?

Eevi said...

We had something like that for Saku when we were sleep training him. "He slept for x hours" "then he cried x minutes(or sometimes hours). Sleep deprivation is SO awful. Of course I havent really experienced it for good two plus years but I can still feel the dreadful need to sleep and knowing that you wouldn't get it. Good luck! I hope all that data will have a happy conclusion soon!

Bridget said...

Yes, data is power! Or knowledge. Or something. Not sure what to do with this knowledge or power.

Amanda Ball said...

I'm surprised you had the mental clarity to create such a spreadsheet. I'd give Evelyn a C in sleeping but I'm not anywhere near sharp enough to be able to keep track of anything this specific. Evelyn cried in her bed last night for something like 2 hours, but honestly, I have no idea. I would wake up and think, "Is she still crying? Yes? Blerg" and then fall back asleep. Repeat in 10-minute cycles.

Bridget said...

I should have mentioned I snagged the template off of Google Spreadsheets. Someone more desperate than me created it. It's super easy to keep. 1 is sleep (auto converts to pink; it's a digit so it can calculate the averages), / is nurse, and , is cry in crib.


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