You know that moment where you’ve brushed your teeth, washed your face, put on your fleecy socks and while snuggling deep down in to bed, you take a deep breath out and hope your mind will shut off? But then, instead of the blissful slumber you were so eagerly anticipating, your mind pipes up with a rousing game of “you know what we haven’t thought about in a while?”.
Now, instead of catching those much needed zzz’s, you spend the next three hours thinking about everything from monsters to taxes to the unwashed dishes still lying in the sink.
We’ve all been there.
What I don’t know is why I thought a baby’s mind would work any differently.
Baby K has always been a good sleeper. She figured out day and night very soon after she made her grand entrance in to the world, slept 5-6 hour stretches from about a month or so on and was sleeping through until 6 A.M. at 4 months.
I thought I had it made. But I should have bit my lip when I was telling people about what a great sleeper she was because if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that babies have an uncanny ability to make liars out of their mothers.
As of late, sleep has become a fleeting thing. While the hubby has begun to lovingly refer to our little one as a domestic terrorist at night, I find myself scratching my head over the new sleep pattern of playing in her crib for an hour before sleeping, waking every 2-3 hours just to hang out, eating once or twice at night to keep up her energy and waking a solid 1-2 hours before she ever used to.
Wasn’t the newborn stage supposed to be the hard one when it came to sleep deprivation? I could deal with sleep deprivation when all she required of me was food, clean diapers and snuggles.
But now that diaper changes are more like wrestling matches, meal time is like yoga between fetching all the cups and utensils and wiping the yogurt off the walls, and play time is sheer cardio as I crawl around the house and toss a 20-lb flailing weight in the air – I need the energy that comes from getting enough sleep. Because nobody likes a cranky mommy.
The crazy catch-22 about this whole situation is that all those things that are the reasons I need to get some sleep are the same reasons she is no longer sleeping well.
Oh developmental milestones! How I have a love-hate relationship with you.
From all the reading, talking with other moms and observing Baby K’s sleep habits on our baby monitor, I’m slowly coming to understand that it’s hard to be a baby. And nighttime is the time that her world slows down enough to process that.
So, what happens? After my nightly performance of Goodnight Moon and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, I lay her down with her super cuddly bunny and crib aquarium and leave her room. All is silent for about five minutes and then we hear the first telltale squeal.
She spends a good half an hour practicing her mobility skills as she spins, twirls, crawls and tries to sit up. Once she finds the perfect position, she settles in to chatter away about her day and play with her soother. While chewing on the wrong end of her soother, she hits her swollen gums where a little dagger tooth is trying to cut out and screams in pain. I go in and comfort her back to a relaxed state. Then she whacks at her crib aquarium, plays with her bunny, kicks off her blankets and finally goes to sleep.
A few hours later, she wakes up in good spirits. Upon checking on her, I realize it was a trap and now that she’s got me, she just wants to hang out and tell me about her day. She wants me to hold out my fingers so she can pull in to standing position and practice walking. The fact that it’s now the wee hours of the morning don’t mean a thing to her.
And this will repeat a few more times tonight with a feeding thrown in there somewhere for good measure.
Her mind is on hyperdrive between all the language she’s absorbing, all the food she is discovering, and all the painful things she deals with on a daily basis like teething, eczema, bum rashes and face planting whenever she gets overly excited reaching for a toy. She’s trying to learn to crawl, to walk and to work a few of her more complicated toys.
Just like our minds work through problems at night, so does hers. She needs the night to “sleep on it” and work through all those problems she couldn’t solve during the day. And she needs that for her development far more than I need my sleep.
It’s funny how babies solve problems at night just like adults. The difference? Adults hit the snooze button and try to remember in the morning. Then never do.