Who’s turn is it to sleep today?

I know that sleep deprivation is boring for people who don’t have young children and I know that I seem to always be talking about it, but let’s face it: it’s hard to think of anything else when you’ve been getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night consistently. It’s not the end of the world: I know that it will get better, and I have been napping with my baby in the morning now that she consistently sleeps for at least an hour and sometimes an hour and a half, twice a day. Sometimes I even get to sip a cup of tea during her afternoon nap. So I’m ok. I do get frustrated more easily, and I’m sorry to say that Zak and our son are probably the ones who get the short end of the stick. It’s hard to be patient after a bad night, and especially around our boy’s bed time, my fuse tends to get shorter. But my family is wonderful and certainly worth it.

However, what I find really hard these days is the function of sleep manager. I have been “sleep-training” my baby, if you can call it that (it’s pretty soft sleep-training, really). More accurately, I refuse to respond to her calls when it’s been less than 4 hours since the previous feeding. But even that is hard to maintain: when she goes to bed at 7 and wakes up at 10 just as we’re going to bed (which, let’s be honest, is every night), I  feed her because I figure it’s ridiculous to let her cry so she can wake me up an hour later. But after that, if she wakes up at 12 or 1, I let her cry. I feed her when she wakes up next, around 2 am, but then the problem is she tends to wake up again around 5 or 5:30. I want to let her cry until 6, because it’s less than 4 hours, but if I do, it wakes up our son, who then doesn’t go back to sleep. We have tried everything, but if he wakes up after 5:30, even if he has to stay in his bedroom until 7, he doesn’t actually sleep. And if he naps in the afternoon we have trouble putting him to bed in the evening. He’s pretty exhausted… So if it’s 5:45 when my daughter wakes up, or if it’s 5:30 but my son has something really important that day and needs to be rested, I pick her up so her brother can sleep.

Sometimes, I pick her up so Zak can sleep. Other nights, when it’s really bad, he sleeps on the couch to get a few hours in a row. I thought of joining him, but since I’m not ready to go cold turkey (i.e. not respond to my daughter at all during the night), I want to be where I can hear her and respond (at reasonable intervals). The result is, I feel like I have been turned into a sleep manager. Do I pick up the baby? Do I let her cry? Who needs their sleep the most today? I  have to make these decisions really fast (I can’t let the baby cry for a few minutes and then pick her up or she will learn that crying gets her picked up). And the only consistent answer to the “Who gets to sleep?” question is: not me. Although I’m not being fair: I get to nap in the morning and Zak gracefully picks up the slack at these times, taking care of anything else that has to be taken care of. He never naps, even when he doesn’t sleep well, because when he does he then has trouble sleeping at night. Personally, I’m way too exhausted to worry about whether or not I’ll sleep at night. I have learned to take any bit of sleep when I can because I never know what the next night will bring. Because even if I don’t pick her up after one or two hours, she doesn’t seem to get the hint and she still often wakes up and cries.

Oh, well. It’s hard right now, but I know it won’t last. My baby is almost 6 months old. She falls asleep on her own, and it just made me realize that it’s been several weeks since I’ve had her lying on me asleep, her warm breath against my neck. She’s my last baby. I’ll soon miss her cuddles – and she’s going to be an independent one, I can already tell. I’m afraid she’ll grow way too fast. So I won’t complain. I’m not working, I can nap with her, I have a my wonderful husband home to take care of our son and give me a lot of help, so I’ll take advantage of this year with my whole family and I’ll enjoy them fully while I can.

Remind me of these good dispositions next time I whine about sleep!

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