I know, it's not even newsletter time. But we need to talk. Mostly, I need to talk.
Because I need to sleep.
Before you came along, I felt mildly apprehensive about the lack of sleep I knew I'd experience as a new parent. But I had no idea what you had in store for me. I like getting my 8 hours a night, but I can get by on less. Six is entirely passable. This was before I understood the vast difference between six hours of sleep in a row and six hours of sleep spread over eight or ten hours. Not all sleep is created equal, I guess.
My next terrible misconception is that things would get better after three months. They didn't. Like, at all. And when we finally decided to do sleep training at seven months, I seemed to have this expectation that since you went to sleep in 14 minutes the first night, you would take 13 minutes the second night, 12 minutes the third night, and so on until about 2 weeks later when you would just fall asleep mere seconds after I lay you, sweetly smiling, in the crib. And, you know, that you would just continue to do that every night (and nap) from then until you moved out. Yeah, NO.
So now you are 8.5 months old, very active and intelligent, and we are back at square one with your sleep. The fact that you can now pull to standing means that you are no longer safe to just "cry it out" in your crib, since the ability to stand brings the likelihood of falling, and since you haven't figured out that you need to lie down to go to sleep. Nor have you figured out how to get down from a standing position, since we're on the subject, so even if you were ready to lie down, you couldn't. This means our nighttime and naptime routine now includes the following:
- I lay you in your crib
- You stand up in your crib
- I pick you up and lay you down again
- You stand up again, with increasing agitation
Repeat, repeat, repeat, until you are hysterical and cannot possibly hope to sleep. What are you gaining from this experience?
I'd be perfectly happy to give up on the nap altogether, since you seem so opposed to it, but this doesn't please you either. Instead, you become the Whiniest Babe in All The Land, determined to destroy my will to live with your endless whimpering. WHAT DO YOU WANT? You don't want to nurse, you don't want to play, you don't want to cuddle, you don't want to sleep ... is whining just an end in itself for you? Because if so, we may need to review our Parent-Child Contract. And our tenancy agreement. Soundproofing, for example, may be in order.
Yesterday I thought the problem might be teething, so I even broke down and gave you Tylenol before your nap. Made no difference. It took over 90 minutes to get you to go to sleep. And then you slept for an HOUR. Gwen, this is not a good situation for either of us. You need your sleep (you really do!), and I need time to myself. I count on your naps to allow me to get some housework done, as well as having a shred of personal time. Having that time is what allows me to regroup and continue to take care of you when you're awake. Just as you are not in a good mood when you give up sleep, I am not in a good mood when I give up that time. It really works better for both of us if we spend that time apart, both refueling in our own ways.
I got to a very dark place last night, Gwen. It was 3:30am and you'd been awake for over an hour. I'd only slept for about two hours before you woke me. I had tried everything I knew how to do to get you back to sleep, but nothing worked. Over and over again I calmed you down, lay you in your crib, and enjoyed the two seconds of silence before your wails pierced the night again. Your dad, who was supposed to be up for the day in only another 90 minutes, finally had to spend another half an hour soothing you before he finally succeeded in getting you to sleep.
As I lay in bed, wide awake, listening to him walk across the floor with you, I started to ask myself some serious questions. I wondered if I was really cut out for this motherhood business anyway. After all, shouldn't I be able to put my own child to sleep? Or, failing that, be capable of the self-sacrifice needed to sit up with you all night and be cheerful about it? I wasn't able to do either of these things. Instead, I lay in bed and wished that you had never been born. I wondered if I was the only mother to ever question herself in this way.
Please don't believe that I would do anything to hurt you, Gwen, because I wouldn't. And the question of whether I am cut out to be a mother is obviously a moot one, since you are here now, not going anywhere, and I am a mother, ready or not. There's nothing anyone can do to change that. And I know that this stage won't last long, and that in years to come I will barely remember what it felt like to be so sleep-deprived that I imagined sneaking out to sleep in the car just so I couldn't hear your whining anymore. So sleep-deprived that I wished someone in this house was a drinker, so we could give you a slug of brandy.
I know the Rules of Mommyblogging demand that I end this post with the "it's all worth it!" disclaimer, maybe even throwing in "motherhood is SO rewarding!" for bonus points, but I don't feel that way today. I don't feel rewarded. I don't feel like it is all worth it. I feel like sometimes, it sucks. Sometimes, no matter how much I give and give and give, you treat me like crap and then scream in outrage about it. I feel like I am barely hanging on to my sanity, and I really don't like the feeling that I'm always one missed nap away from losing my mind - and yet, what alternative do I have?
Please, Gwen, I am doing my best. I'm still new at this, and I know I'm not perfect. Please, just meet me halfway. Allow me to take care of you, and then allow me the time to take care of myself. I promise I won't steer you astray. You're my daughter, and I love you, but I can't do this alone.