i've been thinking about this post for awhile. but i didn't feel any sort of rush to put it up because i knew the subject of sleep would remain an issue for quite some time. i thought the illustration below, from jenny highsmith's instagram, was very appropriate for the first few months of raising a newborn. if you didn't already know, it's a play on the beatles lyrics "all you need is love." and yes, love is very very important. how i feel about my husband and my son has definitely gotten me through the long days and nights of the past six weeks. but what i really need...is some sleep.
everyone's answer to this age old complaint is "sleep when the baby sleeps!" now, i don't begrudge them for this advice. but i'm going to take a moment to explain exactly why that is impossible (for me and my baby anyways).
my husband gets home at 6 pm. he likes to have half an hour to unwind or read a book - no problem. i wouldn't want to be accosted with a screaming child the moment i walk in the door either. he's always super excited to see jackson though, so that's twenty points in his favour. he usually plays with jackson from 6:30 to 8 pm - this gives me exactly an hour and a half to clean the entire apartment, put in a load of laundry, take out the garbage and recycling, do the previous night's dishes, eat dinner, pack up etsy orders, and take a shower if time warrants (or i am desperately dirty).
the baby is fed around 8:00 pm and finishes at 8:30. most evenings, jon will do this feeding and i express some milk and hop into bed. other times, i nurse, and jon does the "routine" (wait for digestion, diaper change, put on pj's, and rock to sleep). the routine takes anywhere from thirty minutes to one hour. unfortunately jon doing the feeding does not save me time (expressing still takes twenty minutes). i can never fall asleep right away, and the hardest time to do so is at nine pm. first, because i've hit my second wind by this time and am essentially forcing myself to sleep. and also, because the baby is usually crying and i feel guilty.* if i have gone to bed, i'm usually asleep by 10:15 pm.
however, if an hour and a half is not enough time to complete the aforementioned list (and goodness knows it never is), then i do not go to bed until after the midnight feeding.
although 11:30 or midnight never used to feel that late to me (in university i remember ordering pizza and beginning essays at that hour), pretty much any time you go to bed and are forced awake by a grunting or screaming infant two-three hours later...isn't going to feel refreshing. jackson is usually back in his bassinet (in our room) by 1:30, though again, it takes me at least half an hour to get back to sleep.
awake again at 3:15 am. same routine, different (ungodly) hour. back in bed by 4:30...though now we are getting closer to morning so it's not as easy for him to fall asleep. did i mention he generally only falls asleep in our arms? so i hold him and pace around the apartment for 20-30 minutes. then i drop him ever so gently into the bassinet. i won't even describe to you the anguish i feel when i put him down and BAM, his eyes open and he's awake. the pacing begins again (funnily enough, during the day he has no problem falling asleep while i watch tv or read a book but at night he likes to be "walked").
***insert what i call "the period of unpredictability." if we're going by the schedule, the next feeding time should be 6:45. but more often that not he also wakes at 5:30 (do the math, if he's back in bed at 4:30 and it takes me thirty minutes to fall asleep...i've just gained a grand total of 30 minutes of stage one sleep).***
i am most tired at 6:45 am when he is ready for his third (fourth??) feeding of the day. but is he sleepy now? no, not at all. he is lively as can be - cooing up the most adorable storm that would generally have me in smiles that reach to my ears. but mostly i'm just trying not to fall asleep on top of him while he eats.
a subset of day time sleep entitled naps:
jackson falls asleep a lot during the day - he is still a newborn after all. about ninety percent of the time these little siestas take place in a car seat, stroller, wearable carrier, or in our arms. occasionally he will also sleep in a bouncer chair.
it is my understanding that a good mother doesn't take a nap while her child sleeps in a stroller, car seat or bouncey chair. it's not safe right? and sleeping while he's in my arms, or in a sling just isn't possible.
should you remove him from any of these apparently delightful scenarios - he will wake, and usually cry.
i've tried every once in awhile to swaddle him up and put him in the bassinet like it's night time but he knows it's not, he rarely falls asleep like this in the day...and if he does, i never know how long it's going to be for. and honestly i'm not sure i want him to confuse day and night. i think on some level i realize we are lucky and that maybe he sleeps better than most babies at night, or falls asleep quicker.
fifteen mins down i usually remember i've forgotten to put my mouth guard in. that, combined with a reeling thought process and the sheer pressure to fall asleep means that i cannot.
thus i conclude that it is near impossible to "sleep when the baby sleeps."
and that dear friends, is how we are sleeping.